Vintage Engagement Rings
Modern weddings are often a fusion of contemporary and vintage styles. We all love a nod to the past and these are often evident in the choice of car, wedding dress or groom and groomsmen’s suits. But there is nothing like putting your own unique stamp on the occasion.
And the same goes for your engagement ring. Whether inspired by an heirloom, love of history or just the current trend for vintage engagement rings, combining classic styles with modern manufacturing had produced some unique and stunning rings such as those worn by Brie Larsen and Pippa Middleton.
Creating your own ring and incorporating styles from some of the most influential eras in the history of jewelry design (Art Deco, Victorian, 1920s and Edwardian) is not only great fun, it also provides all the glamour of the design with modern processes to produce a ring that is as robust as it is beautiful.
So, what are current trends in vintage engagement rings and what defines each look?
Art Deco Engagement Rings
Art Deco was the outward sign of societal change. It had its roots in the Art Nouveau period and featured swirls, ribbons and floral designs, but this was a time of great change and eclectic styles. Art Nouveau was put together with bold geometric shapes to create a whole new look that was classy, sophisticated and unashamedly brash.
The jewelry designs replicated this and the Asscher cut, with its large, open facets and striking size, became the cut of choice. Yellow gold went out during this period in favor of the clean, fresh look of platinum or white gold that enhanced the block geometry of fashion, architecture and interior design.
At the time, large colorful gemstones were popular, but the modern trend is for diamonds that feature square cuts such as the Asscher or Princess style. Milgrain, though, has stood the test of time and is evident in many modern designs. Milgrain is a style of raised beading synonymous with vintage and antique style jewelry. It adds texture and helps to frame and enhance the gemstone.
Victorian Engagement Rings
Queen Victoria reigned for 64 years from 1837 to 1901 so, inevitably there were many changes during the period. That said, society and everything about it was heavily influenced by the Queen throughout her reign and intricate, decorative styles were all the rage. Victoria herself was a huge fan of diamond jewellery and that led to an increased demand for diamond rings throughout her more than six decades on the throne.
In 1870, South African diamond mines opened and the diamonds available were suddenly much bigger in size than anything that had gone before. Coupled with improved manufacturing processes, mass-production made diamond jewelry more accessible too.
Early-Victorian designs featured delicate edges and open settings to enhance the center stone. The rings themselves were often elaborate and ostentatious, with serpents or examples of flora and fauna, even Celtic symbols in some cases. Rose cut and European cut diamonds were popular and were usually pretty big.
After the death of Albert in 1861, Victoria began wearing mourning rings. Engagement rings followed suit and became less ornate. Sleek sophistication became the name of the game. As time wore on, though, that sense of decadence came back and in the late 1890s a return to more decorative designs with motifs and images from around the globe.
Edwardian Engagement Rings
Edwardian engagement rings were typically ornate. Elaborately carved metals, lavishly decorated rings with diamonds and precise, filigree designs, clasped sumptuous gemstones. New diamond cuts were created, buoyed by advancements in diamond cutting processes which allowed for more precise faceting. Baguette cut diamonds and trapeze cut diamonds were introduced alongside triangular cuts and shield cuts. Old European cut diamonds were the most popular choice, though.
Despite the intricately detailed carving and opulence of the metal work, Edwardian engagement rings were all about showcasing the center stone.
Edwardian jewelry was very feminine and used predominantly white metals. Platinum and white gold were paired with opals and large diamonds and the filigree designs evoked images of fine lace.
Georgian Engagement Rings
It was a time of huge change that saw the birth of the industrial revolution and the first shoots of mass-production. Jewelry made during the Georgian era was innovative and distinctive.
Georgian engagement rings were typically hand-crafted in gold, with diamonds set in silver to enhance their brilliance. Rose cut and table cut were popular designs and would sparkle and shimmer at elaborate candlelight during festivities at the homes of the richest members of society.
Cluster rings, with immense sparkle became popular, as did intricate filigree designs featuring motifs in the shape of hearts, leaves and images that celebrated the beauty of nature.
Vintage engagement rings are a great way of merging your developing love story with family history. These enduring designs are quite simply timeless and will never go out of fashion. Every unique design of the modern era brings with it echoes of days gone by; from the playfulness of the Georgian era, to the minutia and detail displayed on Edwardian engagement rings; from the bold elegance of the Art Deco period to the decorative styles based on one of the modern world’s first influencers – Queen Victoria.
The thread that stitches all of these fashions together, though, is innovation. Each new style took something from its predecessors and added a unique twist or a new element to freshen up the look and make it unique and individual. These were true statement pieces. Statements of love and statements of social standing.
And now you can do the same. Choose your favorite classic style and see where your imagination takes you.
Author: Beth Behfar