Due to the nature of human existence, fashions are ever changing. This has been the case for hundreds if not thousands of years and antique style engagement rings are no different. Through every age, their styles have evolved producing a wide variety of choice for the modern enthusiast or ‘fallen head over heels in love’ customer.
As each era is hard to differentiate between, I have put together a quick summary for the untrained eye to use when choosing their type of antique engagement ring. Let us start with a common misconception many purchasers are not conscious of:
Vintage versus Antique
Whilst many confuse the two titles due to the modern day clothing industry mistakenly intertwining them, they are in fact very different.
According to FTC guidelines, any jewellery, including engagement rings is considered antique after 100 years of existence, therefore anything made before 1912 is antique today. Vintage on the other hand is known to have been first created in the early 1940’s and ran its period all the way through to the late 60’s.
Now with that simple point cleared up, let us delve a little deeper into the different eras of antique engagement rings.
Georgian Engagement Rings
Perhaps being responsible for some of the most stunning designs ever produced, Georgian pieces are becoming rarer by the day. This is because the majority of these pieces were broken down and to put in a devaluing manner ‘sold for parts’.
Georgian rings were designed in servitude for King George 1, II, III and IV during the years of 1714 to 1830. Many historians know this period as a time when the aristocrats and nobles of the land walked around sporting an unbelievable amount of jewellery. Buttons made from diamonds, pure golden pocket watches and platinum belts were favoured by men, whilst woman wore exquisite diamond necklaces, shining bracelets and twinkling rings. You could say that the Georgian era was much like the ‘bling bling’ era of a few recent years ago.
Victorian engagement rings
Renowned for their interesting and ‘out there’ designs, Victorian diamond engagement rings have become increasingly popular among the people of today. Distinguishable a lot of the time by their colour (yellow and rose gold were used a lot) this era also produced some very ‘individual’ pieces. One such example of this is the ‘two headed serpent’ that became a popular style during this period. Tiffany, now famous for its ‘six pronged diamond solitaire’ was also first introduced in 1886.
The Victorian Era is known for using a wide mixture of assorted coloured stones. They included rubies, pearls, opals, and dazzling sapphires. Before 1870, diamonds were harder to come by; resulting in them not being used much. This was until the discovery of the diamond mines in South Africa. After this monumentous find, Victorian antique engagement rings started to contain rows of diamonds that had an extra ‘facet’ on the bottom. This was cutely named a ‘mine cut’.
Funnily enough, during this period the word ‘engagement’ was not used as commonly as it is today. These binding rings were referred to more as ‘regard’ or ‘romantic’ rings. Many were engraved with sentiments of love and romance, making it a perfect gift for their partner. Normally being a gold band circled with glistening stones, it was not uncommon for these stones to all be high Karat diamonds; lucky girls!
Edwardian engagement rings
This era was responsible for the invention of the ‘oxyacetylene torch’. As jewellers more frequently used the tool, platinum started to become the metal of choice for Edwardian engagement rings. More shapes and sizes were being created which opened the gate to more refined ‘scrollwork’. This included delicious ‘millgraining’ and melee’s of diamonds set in platinum. Rose cut diamonds and sparkling sapphires seemed to have been the most prominent precious stones during this period.
Edwardian rings main concentration was to make their rings feel as feminine as possible. Everything was designed to look calming and delicate, complimenting a woman’s softer nature. In fact, historians know this period as the ‘beautiful era’.
When choosing your style of engagement make sure to research what you want first. One of the forgotten beauties many buyers miss are the tales behind the antiques. These can be full of magic and love which in my opinion are just as important as the way it looks.
Appearance can always be complimented well with sentiment.