Vintage Engagement Ring Designs and Where to Buy Them

retro engagement ring

Proposing to someone special becomes a lot more extraordinary with a vintage diamond engagement ring, than it would be with one of the modern styled selection. Most women prefer unique rings with some character and history as compared to any of the modern-day designs and styles. Classic designs also tend to appeal more to couples who want something distinctive and elegant. Meant to be a lasting symbol of love, an engagement ring is supposed to make your proposal a joyous and meaningful occasion.

Diamonds found on most of the classical engagement bands are of a higher quality and because the style and design of most of them are difficult to duplicate they tend to have a higher value due to their uniqueness. Purchasing a diamond ring is a big decision and requires a lot of planning.

If you choose to purchase one of a retro engagement collection, you will find that you have a lot of options in terms of style, design and material. Most jewelers have a variety of selections from different eras such as the Art Deco, Victorian, Georgian and Renaissance periods.

Differences And Variations of Vintage Designs

Knowing the differences between the types of classic rings can actually help a lot when you’re out shopping for one. Most people mistake old school inspired items to be part of an antique collection. Antique items are classified as those that are over 100 years old and have been used before. Vintage collections are mostly 50 to 100 years old and also have been worn before, whereas vintage inspired collections are made to look like older ones when it comes to design. They are brand new and have never been used before.

Features Of Vintage Styles

side stones ring

There are several factors a buyer needs to consider before making a purchase. Classical collections come in many different settings, styles and stones that were considered valuable in the era it belonged to. For example, silver was considered to be one of the precious metals in the Victorian era; jewelry made in that period is therefore made of silver.

Similarly diamonds have now become the standard stone for engagement bands, but that hasn’t always been the case. Different stones, including emeralds, rubies, pearls and sapphires, have been used over the years as stones in engagement bands.

The 4 C’s Of Buying Vintage Diamond Rings

The diamonds found in classic jewelry are very different from the ones we get today, which is probably why so many people are attracted to them. They have their own character and history and because they were cut and polished by hand in the previous century, they have the unique one-of-a-kind look. The 4C’s refer to the color, carat, clarity and cut of the diamond.


Because diamonds are formed deep within the surface of the Earth with a combination of intense heat and high temperature, it is very rare that a perfect diamond is found. Clarity refers to the visual appearance of the internal characteristics, under 10 times magnification with a microscope, of diamonds which are widely known as inclusions. In simpler terms, clarity measures the overall internal flawlessness of a diamond and the more perfect a diamond will be with regards to clarity the more expensive it will be owing to its rarity.


Classic diamond rings have diamonds that were cut by hand and they are seen to maintain their original beauty that laser cut diamonds often lose. A very valuable and rare type of diamond cut is the Old Mine cut. It is one of the classiest cuts and resembles the modern Round Brilliant cut but with the distinct old-timey feel. Other classic diamond cuts include Rose cut and Old European cuts.


Diamonds exude warm tones that are often used to identify their authenticity; the differences in color are very slight though. When viewed from the top, these diamonds appear whiter than they actually are and only a trained professional can notice the difference.


Carat is the weight of the diamond and directly affects its value. Larger diamonds are obviously more weighty and rare; therefore they are worth much more than several small ones.

Stone Settings

curved shanks

The type of setting depends on the number of stones a person wants. Some of the popular settings include pave, channel, bezel, solitaire and gypsy.

• Gypsy: The stones are set with the band.

• Pave: Three or more rows of stones are set flush with the band.

• Channel: The stones connect two bands of the metal

• Bezel: The stone is surrounded by a strip of metal that prevents the stone from external blemishes.


People looking to buy from an old time collection often find themselves with so many designs and styles to choose from, they get confused. Apart from the different designs, rings from the different eras have different stones and metals as opposed to the modern standard of gold and diamond. Some of the periods with popular designs include:

• Renaissance Era: Made of gold or cast iron, two or three loops linked together to form a single band. These are very difficult to find today but replicas and other styles of Renaissance era items are produced today.

• Georgian Era: Bands produced in this era are found to be very extravagant. With a lot of diamonds, the main focus in the jewelry was the symmetrical cut of the gemstones.

• Victorian Era: Made with either rose or yellow gold, Victorian era bands were very complex in design. With the wealth people during that time had, most of the collection from this period had a lot of diamonds, although pearls were also a popular choice.

Here’s a good reference webpage that details such designs:

Tips on Buying a Vintage Ring

A number of factors affect the quality and durability of old engagement rings. Some of these items have gemstones, which unlike diamonds, are softer in nature and may have cracks and other imperfections that a normal person can’t really notice. Buyers should inquire about these gemstones and ask for a gemologist report to make sure what they’re buying is worth their money.

The quality of gold may also vary depending on how old the collection is. Most old school rings are about 15 karat gold as that was the standard quality in older periods. You should also make sure that if the diamond is over 0.5 carats you should get an independent diamond certification with all the details of the diamond.

Caring for a Vintage Engagement Ring

gold setting with tapered baguettes

A classic ring will generally last a long time depending on how it’s taken care of. If the band has stones like emeralds, it should not be soaked in alcohol or soap and water solutions. Emeralds are soft stones and susceptible to damage. Proper attention must be paid to the setting of the stones. If the setting around the stone is loose, the stone could fall off in a jiffy.

Places to Buy the Best Vintage Engagement Rings


• Tiny Jewel Box: Located in the Washington DC area, this store has the largest collection of fine retro jewelry. With a wide variety of items, you can get a piece for as low as $500.

• Boone and Sons Jewelers: They are Washington DC’s largest and most renowned jewelers. They have a vast catalog of exciting designs.

• Doyle and Doyle: Considered one of the best classic jewelry stores in New York City. They have a superior collection of classical engagement bands. Their prices range from $2500 to $20000.

On-line Stores

• Fay Cullen ( Although most people think it’s safer to shop for jewelry in person, Fay Cullen has made its reputation as one of the most reliable online jewelry stores with a vast array of retro engagement rings.

• Known as the number one online shopping store, is one of the most reliable places to shop for classic jewelry. With secure money transfer and clear return policies, vast numbers of customers buy their jewelry from and are satisfied with the services.

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