Every jewelry era of the past few centuries saw engagement ring styles that were pervasive during their particular time. New innovations in styles and settings paved the way for future designs. However, unlike many things in life, older styles of engagement rings didn’t disappear, rather, they transformed and were slightly modernized with each iteration by different eras, trends, and inventions.
When it comes to fine jewelry, vintage inspired designs have always been in. Vintage-style engagement rings create a unique feeling of romance…and they will never go out of style.
Each year, brides-to-be seek to find an engagement ring that will offer them a sense of distinction and prestige. The best place to look for something beautiful, unusual, and “new” might very well be…in the past.
Romantic eras of jewelry offer exactly what the modern bride craves, although they might not know it yet. Some styles and traditions in life never fade, and if they do, they come back full circle. Qualities of fine jewelry and engagement rings are proven to be everlasting.
In this article, we will be discussing the different eras of jewelry, vintage diamond cuts, shapes, detailing, and settings that are still a la mode, and of course, the TOP 10 Vintage Style Engagement Ring for 2019.
The 6 Best Eras of Jewelry
Certain historical periods of fine jewelry have come and gone in regards to desirability, while others have remained favorable and in high value. This means that older isn’t necessarily more valuable, and not all antique styles are “trendy”. Thankfully, experts in the jewelry industry know what people want, and modern vintage-inspired designs take from the eras that withstood the test of time. So, when choosing any vintage-style engagement ring, you can be sure it has features taken from one of these 6 best eras of jewelry.
Here are the 6 best eras of jewelry that many modern rings take inspiration from. Note: if you have an heirloom piece from any of these historical periods, you can be sure you are sitting on something considerably valuable.
Georgian era: (1714-1830)
Engagement rings from the Georgian era exceptionally rare. Georgian rings were handmade using 18k gold and silver. They feature a multitude of stone shapes and sizes, even within one single piece. During this era, rose and table cut diamonds, sapphires, and amethysts were ubiquitous, as were ornate floral, ribbons, foliage, and animal designs.
Victorian era: (1835-1900)
Engagement rings of this time abided by the styles and jewelry tastes of Queen Victoria herself. Birthstones in place of diamonds were ever-present. It was in this era, at the time of the industrial revolution, that the diamond solitaire engagement ring setting was developed. Rings started to reflect the beginning of a new age – the modern world. They had intricate designs, and a plethora of precious stones, and even pearls, were used and set in place within yellow, rose, and white gold, and platinum metal bands. Inspiration came from animals, so animal designs were a common theme.
Art Nouveau era: (1890-1915)
There was a powerful shift in attitudes during this time. Women wanted to be more sensual. Thus, the designs of engagement rings followed suit. Engagement rings were more voluptuous and curvy. The innovation of vitreous enameling, also called plique-a-jour, made diamonds shine brighter, as this enameling technique allows more light to shine through. Designers of this time created engagement rings with amazing designs and beautiful depictions of nature and mythical enchantment (like mermaids). Popular gems, such as tourmaline, pearl, emerald, opal, lapis lazuli, and more smaller diamonds, were used alongside diamond centerpieces. As for gem cutting styles, old European cuts were of the highest esteem.
Edwardian era: (1900-1915)
The Edwardian era saw the return of elegance. Engagement rings made from platinum were the most pervasive. Many new methods of cutting and stonesetting came into existence with the advancement of technology. This also allowed for quicker manufacturing on a larger scale and decreased costs. Rose cut diamonds, and emeralds, sapphires and rubies were high in demand. White-on-white appearances were go-to as they were a symbol sophistication and prestige. Designers took inspiration from Ancient Greek, Roman, and Napoleonic art, with rings stunningly reflecting feminine characteristics.
Art Deco era: (1915-1935)
Art Deco engagement rings gave a radiant rejuvenation to the industry after World War I. Engagement rings were exquisite and grand, with their symmetrical, geometric designs. Structures took shape in the form of pyramids and stepped ziggurats, as well as simpler linear shapes like triangles and rectangles. Three-stone rings were very popular. Baguette diamonds as side stones can be seen in many Art Deco engagement rings. Furthermore, at this time, there were inventions of new styles of shield shapes and caliber cuts, which really took diamonds to a new level.
Retro Modern era: (1935-1950)
The Retro Modern jewelry era was the beginning of American culture being recognized across the world, especially in Europe. Hollywood actresses became global superstars, and their flashy jewelry became popular beyond all others. Radical curves, scrolls and bows were some of the most popular shapes, and rubies became the gem of choice. It was all about glamour and extravagance.
Antique and vintage jewelry eras go beyond the brief descriptions above, and each era saw significant innovative, game-changing designs that have persisted to this day. Every unique engagement ring is a work of art.
Vintage Diamond Cuts and Shapes
Now, let’s go over some vintage diamond cuts and shapes that prevailed time and remain active in modern vintage-inspired engagement ring designs.
Old Mine Cut (Modern: Cushion Cut)
Historically speaking, antique cushion cut diamonds (or old mine cuts as they were once known) were one of the most distinguishable styles for engagement rings. You can see this by looking at some of the most prestigious vintage diamond engagement rings from past eras.
Over the last decade, cushion cut diamonds and gems have seen a serious increase in popularity thanks to the bold and powerful appearance that they produce as centerpieces in engagement rings.
The modern-day round brilliant cut diamond is a successor of the old European cut diamond. Before the introduction of the brilliant cut, the old European cut diamond was the standard for round diamond engagement rings. Nowadays, the old Euro cut is still very attractive to vintage jewelry collectors.
A rose cut features a flat bottom and a spherical dome top with anywhere from 3 to 24 facets. The first rose cut diamond appeared as early as the 1500s, seeing a major rebirth in engagement rings from the 1800s on. Rose cut diamonds create a very feminine look with its subtlely soft brilliance. In recent years, rose cut diamond engagement rings have made a comeback thanks in part to celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, who has a rose cut diamond engagement ring. Nevertheless, they are still extremely rare.
The Marquise cut was named after King Louis the XV’s favorite mistress, Marquise de Pompadour. She was a very smart and accomplished woman who had a sharp eye for art. King Louis wanted a diamond that looked like Marquise de Pompadour’s graceful and ever desired mouth. Yes, her mouth…We aren’t sure if that’s exactly what he got, but he did create one of the most coveted diamond shapes in history, still as popular as ever.
The oval cut diamond may be the oldest diamond shape to ever exist. It dates back as far as 1304. And, in 1887 there is a record showing a bequeathing of a 184-carat oval shape diamond to the Queen of England (Queen Victoria). The oval cut shape gives the appearance of a bigger diamond than a round cut with the same carat weight. It is perfect for those with long, slender fingers.
The first creation of the pear-shaped diamond, also described as ‘teardrop’, was in the 1400s. In the 18th century, the Pear Brilliant was introduced. Like the Marquise cut, the pear shape diamond is a gorgeous shape and one of the most unique and fashionable diamond cuts in modern engagement rings.
An adaption of the step cut rectangular shape diamond, the Emerald cut was an invention of the 1940s. Emerald cut diamonds are the most brilliant of the rectangular shape diamond cuts, with their long and wide table-like tops. Emerald cuts scream antiquity, even though they have only been in existence for less than a century.
At the start of the 20th century, Joseph Asscher lead the development of the Asscher cut. As you can imagine thanks to its shape, it took a sharp spike in prominence during the Art-Deco era. In 2002, the Asscher cut was underwent an additional refinement and diamond companies came running. It is now one of the most desirable vintage shapes for women who want a distinctive diamond cut.
Vintage Engagement Ring Settings
As with everything regarding engagement rings, the way the stones are set in place has been an evolution in itself.
The most simple and familiar stonesetting is the prong, or solitaire, setting, which uses four to six (or more) metal prongs to hold a stone in place.
The bead setting (or Pavé) sets diamonds directly in the metal using gravers. It’s essentially the drilling of tiny holes in the metal and fitting them in securely. Pavé set diamond engagement rings are said to produce the most “bling”.
The bezel setting is the earliest technique of stonesetting. It requires a strip of metal to be bent into the shape of the diamond. After which, a ring maker solders the strip of metal to the ring. Then the stone goes into the encircling strip of metal and the top lip of the strip folds over to keep it in place.
This method takes two bars or strips of metal and suspends the stones in between to make a channel of stones down the middle of the ring.
A halo engagement ring has circumscribing smaller diamonds or gems around a large centerpiece. The centerpiece and halo can be of any shape. It also can be a double or single halo. The halo creates the appearance of a very large diamond engagement ring, and it shines super bright.
A cluster setting takes a large diamonds and surrounds it with a cluster of smaller diamonds or gems. Sometimes, a cluster ring has many stones of the same size clustered together. In antique jewelry, many popular cluster designs took the shape of flowers.
Vintage Style Detailing
There have been multitudes of detailing methods for styling engagement rings throughout history. Here are two of the most intricate techniques that produce a stunningly ornate vintage style engagement ring.
A filigree styling is a graceful beautification of the malleable metal which twists and curls in designs of scrollwork and other ornate motifs, creating a gorgeous lacy appearance. Engagement ring makers solder the filigree onto the ring, usually underneath or on top of the band.
Milgrain detailing is a finely set row of metal beads, normally arranged as borders around engagement rings. This fine embellishment naturally draws the eyes to the most important elements of the rings.
Most popular gemstones in vintage-inspired diamond engagement rings:
Most popular metals used in vintage style engagement rings:
- White Gold
- Yellow Gold (trending hot right now)
- Rose Gold (trending hot right now)
Vintage Inspired Rings
Nowadays, we have a plethora (we’re talking hundreds and hundreds) of engagement ring styles to select from. This can make selecting your engagement ring quite overwhelming. Therefore, we put together our top 10 choices for vintage style engagement rings this year.
Remember, if you are looking for new and unique, all you have to do is look back in time, as everything that is old is new again in the realm of fine jewelry.
Top 10 Vintage Inspired Engagement Rings for 2019
The following engagement rings are not only vintage style, but they are also everything the modern bride wants in an engagement ring – They mix the old with the new.
If you have a very specific engagement ring in mind, at Diamonds by Raymond Lee in Boca Raton, you can fully customize your engagement ring. We love giving women the opportunity to create their perfect, dream engagement ring. So, all you have to do is contact us and we can discuss the process with you.
Diamonds by Raymond Lee in Boca Raton
Diamonds by Raymond Lee has been serving Boca Raton and South Florida’s insatiable need for diamonds for over 30 years. Our team of diamond advisers dedicates themselves to assisting you in selecting the perfect engagement ring.
Our vision has always been to forge a unique, professional, and intimate vibe. We provide a shopping experience that works for all generations. We especially know what the modern jewelry buyer wants; and we keep traditions that never fade intact, such as sensibility, artistry, and craftsmanship.
Diamonds by Raymond Lee is Sunny Florida’s best engagement ring retailer since 2016.