People, and even jewelers, use the term vintage, but its meaning isn’t as clear as estate or antique. And there is a difference! An antique engagement ring is over 50 years old, which now means anything made before the early 1960s. Most people don’t think of a 1960 era ring as an antique engagement ring! An estate engagement ring is simply pre-owned and could have been bought as recently as last year. A vintage engagement ring is a conversational term without any defined meaning, although some use the term vintage to mean a new ring styled to look like a ring from an older era. The actual name for this is a reproduction.
So when looking at rings, make certain that the ring fits the description, because the terms vintage, estate, and antique are loosely used. At Fox Fine Jewelry we’ll tell you as much as possible about our ever-changing selection of estate and antique engagement rings.
What are the antique engagement ring styles of different eras?
The styles and dates below are generalizations only. Styles did not abruptly change on a specific date; there was a lot of overlapping. Even the dates are approximate.
Victorian antique engagement rings (1837 – 1901)
The Victorian era is named for Queen Victoria of England, who ruled the British Empire during this time. Queen Victoria loved jewelry, and her exceptional taste shaped the jewelry that was made.
The gold supply increased in the mid-1800s, and most Victorian antique engagement rings are set in yellow gold. The discovery of diamonds in South Africa made diamonds a favored gemstone in the late Victorian period. Many rings of this era feature rows of diamonds. Victorian antique engagement rings, especially during the later part of the era, were often finished with ornate filigree and engraving.
Edwardian antique engagement rings (1901 – 1920)
Named for King Edward of Britain, Edwardian antique engagement ring styles kept much of the late Victorian era styles. With the discovery of the oxyacetylene torch, platinum became the metal of the day. Platinum allowed for increased open filigree work and lacy designs. Designs with bows, flowers, and scrolls complimented the Edwardian woman’s silk dresses with lace and feather-topped hats. Most designs featured white on white: diamonds or diamonds and pearls set in platinum for a sophisticated look of the upper class.
Art Deco antique engagement rings (1920 – 1935)
The world threw off the old and entered into an era of flappers, jazz, gangsters and speakeasies. Jewelry, including Art Deco engagement rings, was another way for women to express their individuality. Gone were the lacy scrolls and flowers. The new Art Deco engagement rings were playful and fun, with geometric shapes and straight lines. Think of the cubist style of Picasso, the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. New alloys were discovered and the less expensive white gold replaced some of the platinum styles.