So on Tuesday, we chatted about vintage engagement rings. The word vintage is meant to denote a specific age, but because it’s not specific in jewelry (as opposed to its use in the wine world) it’s open to interpretation and abuse. When it comes to vintage engagement rings, you can get away with calling a 20 year old ring vintage, but it won’t have that “look” you’re likely going for. If you stick to the 50 year old range, you’re getting closer. And the term “vintage style” refers to a modern ring that borrows from eras of past glamour. But often –really REALLY often – it’s a catch all term that includes the style that those old timey loving brides are really after: antique engagement rings.
Unlike vintage, antique has a more specific age: it’s 100 years. Easy, right?! It’s a smidge more difficult to properly identify the different jewelry eras that antique jewelry contains – Belle Epoque vs. Georgian, Edwardian vs. Art Nouveau, etc. The great auction houses like Christies & Sotheby’s are excellent resources for more information, as is GIA, of course.
At RLJ, we have quite a collection of antique engagement rings, plus some very-soon-to-be antiques from the Art Deco era (my FAVE!) Some of these are signed pieces from major jewelers, but many (most, I’d venture) are lovely, unsigned heirlooms just waiting for the next love story to add to their anthology. When you’re shopping for an antique engagement ring, keep a few things in mind.
• Antique rings are best as-is. Often made of delicate metal detailing, dissecting a ring for parts can lead to disintegrating platinum or damage of more vulnerable gemstones –even in the hands of the most capable jeweler.
• About those gemstones, they’re often antiques too! This is another reason to keep a diamond, especially, in its original setting. You’ll find Ole European, Old Mine, Rose Cut and transitional diamonds in these settings, all designed specifically to show off these very different cuts of diamond.
• Antique engagement rings can save you thousands, like many an estate piece. Alternatively, a rare, exceptional piece will command a higher price tag than its modern counterpart. Engagement ring prices are crazy LINK.
• A true antique isn’t your only option. Modern designers borrow heavily from the timeless, elegant influences of yesteryear all.the.time. They can either re-produce an antique style faithfully, or interpret it to suit their own signature style. Our own expert jewelers love to do this, pairing the unparalleled brilliance of a modern cut round with an antique style setting. It creates a unique look that so many brides love.
• Antique engagement rings are a separate entity from vintage engagement rings, but because “vintage” is so loosely defined (and because it’s the more common term among our clientele) you’ll often see an antique ring described as vintage. Ask your jeweler specifically for antique and antique styles if that’s the look you’re really after!