When you’re picking a special ring for you or your sweetheart, it can sometimes be hard to nail down a style direction. Oftentimes, people feel drawn to vintage or vintage-inspired rings - but have you ever wondered what that really means? Do you need more information on what eras and elements can describe vintage jewelry? If so, we are here to help. Here we will define five significant eras of vintage rings and explain what defines each of those styles. That way you’ll be able to pin down exactly what catches your eye and select or create your perfect ring with confidence.
What does vintage mean in jewelry?
Vintage refers to anything at least 20 years old, while "antique" signifies items at least a century old. In the world of engagement rings, "vintage" primarily points to a ring's style rather than its age. In essence, if you're seeking a vintage engagement ring, you're looking for a modern ring that captures the essence of a bygone era - whether it be as far back as the 1800s or as recent as the 1990s.
Now that we've clarified the terminology, let's explore the captivating design elements of different vintage eras, from Victorian to Modern Retro, and help you find the perfect vintage ring that resonates with your unique style.
Victorian Era (1835-1900)
The Victorian Era was an age of opulence and intricate craftsmanship. Victorian engagement rings were typically fashioned from yellow or rose gold and frequently featured diamonds. Rows, halos, and clusters of diamonds became all the rage during this period. The Victorian style also embraced blue hues, as Queen Victoria's favorite color was blue, leading to the inclusion of turquoise and blue enamel in jewelry. Pearls and other white gemstones like moonstone and opal were also beloved. In terms of diamond cuts, old mine cuts, old European cuts, step cuts, and rose cuts reigned supreme during this time. Popular motifs included bows, hearts, birds, snakes, and navette or marquise shapes. So, if you're drawn to ornate, detailed designs with a touch of romanticism, a Victorian-inspired vintage engagement ring might be your perfect match.
Edwardian Era (1900-1920)
The Edwardian Era ushered in a sense of lightness and delicacy in engagement ring design. Rings from this era were predominantly crafted in platinum, known for its durability and brilliance. Intricate metalwork called filigree was a hallmark of Edwardian design, featuring scrolling, ribbons, and vine-like motifs. Floral themes were also prevalent, reflecting the influence of nature on jewelry design. While diamonds and pearls remained popular, colored gemstones began to make appearances. The most common diamond cuts during this period included old mine cuts, old European cuts, and rose cuts. If you're enchanted by lace-like details, intricate filigree work, and a touch of femininity, an Edwardian-style vintage engagement ring could be your perfect choice.
Art Deco Era (1920-1940)
The Art Deco era brought a dramatic shift in design, favoring bold geometry and repeating patterns over the soft, flowing lines of Edwardian styles. Metalwork in Art Deco rings often featured sharp angles and intricate milgrain beading. Step-cut diamonds like emerald and asscher cuts gained popularity, along with colored gemstones like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Art Deco was a time of glamor and extravagance, marked by a resurgence in geometric aesthetics. If you're drawn to bold, symmetrical designs and a sense of vintage luxury, an Art Deco-inspired vintage engagement ring may be the perfect fit.
Retro Era (1940-1960)
The Retro Era saw the rise of the diamond engagement ring, thanks in part to De Beers' successful marketing campaigns featuring the tagline “A Diamond is Forever.” Engagement rings from this period often featured simpler designs, with solitaire rings and baguette side stones becoming fashionable. Yellow and rose gold were the metals of choice due to wartime restrictions on platinum. Two-toned designs with both yellow and white gold became prevalent. If you appreciate timeless elegance, classic round-cut diamonds, and a hint of nostalgia, a Retro Era-inspired vintage engagement ring might be your ideal choice.
Modern Retro Era (1960-1990)
The 1960s to the 1990s saw the emergence of a unique vintage trend characterized by playful and eclectic designs. Rings from this era often featured bold, chunky settings, psychedelic patterns, and an array of colorful gemstones. This style embodies a sense of freedom and self-expression, perfect for those who appreciate unconventional, one-of-a-kind pieces that capture the spirit of a dynamic era. Colored gemstones, pear shapes, and marquise-cut diamonds define this time period. One of the most popular rings from the modern retro era is Princess Diana’s sunburst halo sapphire engagement ring, which inspired a wave of imitations. Blending vintage-inspired designs with modern techniques continues to be a popular choice for those who like a fusion of the old and the new.
Find your vintage jewelry vibe
So, which vintage style resonates with you the most? Whether it's the intricate charm of the Victorian Era, the delicate femininity of the Edwardian Era, the bold geometry of the Art Deco Era, or the timeless elegance of the Retro Era, there's a vintage-inspired engagement ring waiting to capture your heart.
Explore our collection of vintage-inspired ring styles to see which one speaks to you. You can even make adjustments to our designs by customizing your own ring. If you’re not sure whether vintage-inspired rings are right for you, try taking our Ring Styles Quiz to see what other options might resonate with your personal style.