Vintage engagement rings are hot on the list for brides-to-be in 2012. Designers are getting their inspiration from times long past–yet certainly not forgotten. From the intricately engraved Edwardian or Victorian rings to the glamorous patterns hailing from the Art Nouveau or Art Deco eras, there are countless interesting designs to choose from. Keep reading to find out the latest styles and design features from the fashion industry–and to find the perfect ring for the perfect bride.

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What Are Vintage Engagement Rings?

The term “vintage jewelry” refers to jewelry that is either old (“antique“) or is new but takes its inspiration from different eras throughout history. Vintage engagement rings are appealing to many women because they not only have a classic and timeless style, they generally are out of the norm for the popular solitaire engagement rings. It is important to remember that one can either buy a true vintage ring from an antique shop or from any modern jewelry store that has vintage-inspired rings (“new” vintage).

Designs for Vintage Engagement Rings

Nearly any ring dating back several decades could potentially be considered vintage. However, most of the true vintage rings come from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.  Georgian, Edwardian, Victorian, Art Deco and Retro era rings are some of the most popular styles available.

Georgian Vintage Engagement Rings

This era ranges from 1714-1837 and jewelry from this time period might have diamonds as well as colored gem stones such as rubies, emeralds and sapphires.  The rings which remain on the market are incredibly valuable and a true collectors item.

Edwardian Vintage Engagement Rings

Edwardian engagement rings are a stunning example of  lady-like, intricate designs. The quality of craftmanship is superb, with delicate filigree patterns, miligrain details and fancy scroll designs swirling between tiny diamonds.

Victorian Vintage Engagement Rings

A defining characteristic of Victorian engagement rings is the use of yellow or rose gold (sometimes with layers of platinum or silver) and engravings on the sides of the band which are highly sentimental. The diamonds are often the “old-mine” cut (today’s modern antique cushion cut), and tiny pearls or other embellishments are popular among the Victorian designs.

Art Deco Vintage Engagement Rings

One of the most desirable of all vintage engagement rings. The Art Deco style has geometric, sleek lines which give an air of an elegant, modern woman. These rings often have different colored stones or black diamond accents which appear striking against white gold or platinum. With the geometric shapes as the guide, it is common to find trapezoid, triangle, kite or other interesting shapes in modern Art Deco rings.

Retro Vintage Engagement Rings

Jewelry designs in this era are confident, big and bold–greatly reflecting the mood of that time period (1960’s – 1980’s). Some of the styles were created to bring attention to a large center stone with swirling and dramatic lines of diamonds or colored gemstones. Other styles during this time focused one large diamond, often times fancy shaped stones (pear, marquise, oval, heart, emerald or Asscher) and appearing to be more of a cocktail ring by today’s standards.

Shopping Tips for Vintage Engagement Rings

  • Vintage settings are usually more delicate due to their age and intricate designs, and require a little extra care. If purchasing at an estate sale or antique shop, be sure to carefully inspect the quality to ensure no hidden repairs are required.
  • As with any antique piece of jewelry, a good professional cleaning may be in order to restore the true sparkle, as dust and other impurities could have built up throughout the years of wear.
  • Before purchasing, have the ring independently appraised and insured.
  • Be prepared to spend a reasonable amount of time searching antique shops or estate sales, as they may not always have rings in stock. A better bet may be to look online at reputable antique jewelry dealers such as Hillary’s Antiques, Fay Cullen, or Lang Antiques.
  • Vintage engagement rings need to be treated with extra care and it is not recommended to wear them during day-to-day activities such as dishes, housework, sports, yard work, etc. Take additional precaution with them and have them cleaned and examined by a professional jeweler on a regular basis.
  • Inquire with family members on either the bride or groom’s side if there are any heirloom rings which may be suitable for an engagement ring.
  • If you prefer to wear the ring on a more frequent basis, it may pay to get a vintage-style engagement ring, rather than a true vintage or antique engagement ring. The new rings duplicate the look but may have higher quality metal in their settings.
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Vintage engagement rings are a stunning way to celebrate the past, present and future. They are perfect for the nostalgic woman who adores beautiful things from a different era and may want to pass down a ring to future posterity one day.

Images courtesy of Collectors Weekly, Lang Antiques and Faye Cullen.

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