Days Gone By: The Ultimate Vintage-Inspired Engagement Ring Guide

Vintage-inspired engagement rings capture the romance of past eras. Rings from the mid-1800’s to mid-1900’s fall into three separate time periods:  Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco.  Jewelry from each of these eras reflected what was happening in the world and how societies responded to their culture.  Vintage and antique rings are therefore treasured symbols of past lifestyles and artistic movements.

Read about each of them below, illustrated with our Beverley K vintage-inspired engagement rings.

Victorian: Delicate Adornment

Queen Victoria’s regal style impacted the world of jewelry design during her reign, from 1837-1901.  It was a romantic period in art and culture, resulting in rings with detailed feminine flourishes and natural motifs.  It was the first time in history that larger diamonds (1 carat and up) were widely available due to the opening of new diamond mines in Africa.  While rings of the past frequently featured diamond clusters, the Victorian era was the beginning of rings focused around a center diamond.  Handcrafted details such as engraving and raised milgrain beading were important factors in Victorian ring settings, and the most common metal used was yellow gold.  The lower karat weights (18k, 14k, and 10k) gave the rings a softer color.

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Edwardian: Airy Filigree and Lace

The Edwardian period in jewelry (1901-1910) coincided with the Belle Epoque in Europe and the Gilded Age in the United States, a prosperous time of optimism following the war.  This was expressed through jewelry in extravagant designs.  Platinum, a newly discovered precious metal, began to be used for rings, creating a new tradition for future generations.

According to our resident antique jewelry specialist, Lee Terranova, “The use of platinum allowed for a more open and airy look in the ring designs.  It gave way to filigree and pierced patterns, creating beautiful, lace-inspired designs.”  This ethereal look was accented by sloping lines and feminine curves, offering a much lighter appearance than rings from the Victorian period.

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Art Deco: Bold Geometry

The age of new beginnings, the Art Deco era (1915-1935) represented a creative rebirth in jewelry, art and design.  People were seeking something new and completely different than what had been created in the past.  Engagement rings exhibited never-before-seen design motifs, such as bold geometric patterns and eclectic diamond shapes.  Rare in modern jewelry, French-cut diamonds were used as accent gems to the center.  For the first time, center diamonds became more creative as emeralds and marquis-shapes rose in popularity.  Gemstones, particularly sapphires, emeralds, and rubies, were also used as colorful accents in the ring designs.

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