In this era of mass-production, many couples are finding something one-of-a-kind to represent their life-long journey together. Unfortunately, you would rarely find a ring like that except for custom-made ones, and those could cost you a pretty penny. Not to mention as the demand for diamonds rises, nor does diamond mining become more and more prevalent around the world. Diamond mining, according to this blog by the Ohio State University, affects our environment more than we know. It happens through the erosion of soil, the more the earth is dug up, as well as forest destruction and ecosystem disturbance.
So now that we see buying commercial ones is detrimental to the environment, and going for a personalized one not only reinforces eco-destruction but will also rob you blind, what’s a couple to do? It’s time to consider digging up history instead of the soil and give vintage rings a try. In this article, we will be touching everything essential about vintage rings before considering a purchase.
Different Types Of Vintage Rings
An engagement ring can only be considered as vintage if it is older than 20 years. Any ring existing over a hundred years can be called both vintage and an antique. This ring can either be used or unused. However, the fact it has been worn may skyrocket its value, mostly if it was by a famous icon from the past (e.g. Princess Diana, Liz Taylor, Marilyn Monroe).
With that said, here are the four eras where yours may fall in:
1. Victorian Rings
The first and earliest category they can belong to is the Victorian era engagement rings. This group of historical jewelry can be traced back to early as 1985 to as late as 1901. Accessories belonging to this era may be the hardest to find, as they were done so long ago, but owning one would be worth the search.
Since diamond wasn’t the start of the season before, many ring artisans focus more on available stones, such as sapphire, emerald, and pearl. The design for Victorian engagement rings can be easily identified with its intricate carvings and a large central stone, which is usually surrounded by much smaller rocks creating the “halo” effect.
Queen Victoria had a love for yellow and rose gold, which will dominate most of the bands of this accessory. She was often the trendsetter and pioneer for each season’s style and color, and the Ton followed her from each lace and silk ribbon. This also includes her taste in jewelry.
2. Edwardian Rings
After Queen Victoria’s death, the next to set trends was King Edward VII, the first-in-line for the throne and the queen’s eldest son. This era started in the early 1900s during his reign.
Rings at this time were focusing more on the designs of the band instead of the center stone (though this aspect was still held up even after King Edward took the throne). It was more ornate than the Victorian ones, and all thanks to the discovery of a technique where platinum can be bent easily after exposing it to very high temperatures. This method is called “Filigree” which gives the Edwardian ones its highlighted feature of appearing like folded lace.
3. Art Deco Rings
These rings are the most common vintage rings in the market as of today. Spanning from 1920 -1940, the designs of these rings are highly influenced by WWII and just after it ended. Art Deco can be defined as a visual art produced during the Second World War and post-war, be it buildings, paintings, and jewelry as well.
Art deco rings moved forward along with the modernization of the world: air travel was beginning, appliances started to aim for efficiency and mobility, and the technological era was unfolding like a new spring bud. Unique jewelry shops focusing on Vintage engagement rings often have this type of call as their featured collection. This is perhaps because of its embedded mark on history as well as its contemporary design despite being vintage.
This Art deco accessory drew a line between the past and the present with its straightforward designs. If Victorian and Edwardian rings were ornate and highly feminine, art deco rings would exude masculinity with its symmetry and geometric shapes. Gone were the swirls and the lace-like designs, replaced with the rigid set of French cuts and triangle cuts.
4. Retro Rings
Less of an era and more of a design, retro accessories have patterns of style that mimic a certain period in the past. If it fitted into a timetable, retro falls in the mid-1940s when Hollywood was beginning to elevate actors and actresses as trendsetters instead of royalty.
The style is usually bold and expensive, despite its crippling recovery just after the great depression of the 1930s. The only thing that didn’t change ever since the Edwardian era was the use of platinum, which became more and more popular than silver and gold. It’s cheaper, more durable, and less likely to rust over time.
Reasons To Use Vintage Rings As Your Engagement Ring
Still, are you not convinced with purchasing one? There are a lot of reasons to consider vintage rings over commercial, brand-new ones. Old doesn’t always mean rusty or broken! In reality, vintage rings are more valuable, and here’s why!
1. Vintage Rings Are Unique
Especially with Victorian and Edwardian, vintage accessories are hard to find, let alone exist with two similar designs at the same time! Since they were made so long ago, the two oldest eras have rings that have designs unlike any other. Plus the fact that these are often hand-crafted, they are also 100% made with genuine gold and set with real stones (costume jewelry was scarcely made at these points in time).
To have one as your engagement ring means you’ll have just one design in the entire world. Though even if it still belongs to the art deco and retro eras, vintage rings still represent an event far gone from the world today.
2. History Is Embedded In Them
Many vintage pieces of jewelry worn by fashion icons are auctioned for thrice its original price all because of who wore them before. According to this article by the Hollywood Reporter:: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/marilyn-monroes-rare-moon-baroda-canary-yellow-diamond-sale-1152388, Marilyn Monroe’s diamond necklace was up for auction two years ago and finally bought for $1.3M a month later. It was almost five times its price since it was offered up to auction at Christine’s three decades ago.
The necklace was paired up with Marilyn’s autographed picture, which also came at a hefty price. But we’re not saying you should buy your rings at an auction simply because it was worn by someone important. Each vintage ring has a story, though not as shiny as Marilyn’s but also a part of history. Having one on your finger means you’re adding to its history for another century or so.
3. Can Turn To A Family Heirloom
Because of its historical value, vintage engagement rings can become a family heirloom which can be passed on from generation to generation. All thanks to Prince Charles proposing to Kate Middleton with his mother’s sapphire ring, the trend of vintage engagement rings started and endured until today.
4. It Has Unique Craftsmanship That Is Lost Today
By merely seeing your grandparent’s engagement ring, you might marvel at its intricacy and feel the intimacy of the circle itself with the owner. That’s because the ones from way back 70 or so years ago were vastly different than today in terms of quality and artistry. They made their rings by hand before, unlike today’s uniform designs.
To add, in times of crisis, the value of vintage pieces rises considerably. It’s good to note that beyond the sentiment of your chosen ring is a value hidden behind it.
5. Vintage Rings Are Eco-Friendly
As we have mentioned before, diamond mining has caused a great deal of damage to our land. By purchasing these, you are not only minimizing the demand for diamonds, but you also ultimately lessen soil erosion and deforestation all around the world.
Having vintage rings can lessen the taxing demand we have already placed on mother earth. It’s one of the most meaningful and graceful ways to do your part against the perils to the environment.
How To Care For Your Vintage Rings
Like any other accessory, vintage rings also have a set of rules when cleaning or maintaining it. Just because it is a hundred or so years old doesn’t mean it can last a hundred more without your TLC. For Victorian or Edwardian, your primary concern should be the center stone. Sometimes due to age, the prongs can wear down, causing the stone to fall off.
The easiest way to assess the prong’s condition is to gently shake your ring beside your ear for any rattling noise. If it is affirmative, you can bring it to your nearest jeweler for a quick fix.
For Diamonds or any stones that lost their shine, a quick wash with mild soap, water, and a soft-bristled toothbrush will do the trick. Carefully brush away the dirt and oil build up around the stone. Rigorous brushing is discouraged for both the stone and the band.
Note that stones have different reactions to light, moisture, or heat, so reading up on each of them is better than to clean them like your other jewelry pieces uniformly. With simple after-care, your vintage ring will last until another generation is ready to care for it.