So you’re certain that you want to propose. You’ve determined your budget, secured the funds, and secretly read everything about the four C’s while at work, so she won’t know what you’re up to. In this edition we’re going to explain the difference between vintage rings, antique rings, retro rings, Art Deco Rings, Art Nouveau rings and Victorian rings. That way, you can find the right old-fashioned ring for her.
Vintage and Antique Rings
When describing old-fashioned rings, vintage and antique are two terms that are used interchangeably by most people, but they actually refer to two different things. Vintage can refer to jewelry from any era, from Victorian to retro or art deco. Vintage refers to old-fashioned rings as a whole. To be a bonafide antique, a piece of jewelry must be more than 100 years old.
True antique and vintage rings (not reproductions) generally become more valuable over time. The downside is that most antique rings are not durable enough to endure everyday wear and diamonds set in older rings are usually not up to the same standards that we judge them by today.
The best way to get the styling and quality of a modern ring is to get a vintage or antique reproduction ring. A reproduction mimics the styling of old-fashioned rings but boasts the dependability and certification that antique rings lack.
What to look for
When buying an antique ring, it is important to take the ring to an appraiser to make sure that the antique ring is real. If it isn’t real, that’s alright. Reproductions are just fine as long as you are not paying a higher price because you think the ring is an antique. It is also wise to take the ring to jeweler to find out about the ring’s integrity. Make sure that all the stones are securely mounted and that the ring can be resized if necessary. See Vintage Jewelry Designs
Unlike the above terms, Victorian is a term that refers to a specific extravagant styling popularized during Queen Victoria’s reign. The Victorian era was a prosperous time for the United Kingdom and lasted from 1835 – 1901. It was also during this time that interest in the natural world was at an all time high due to the introduction of Darwin’s theories on evolution and new botanical discoveries.
As a result, jewelry from the Victorian era is characterized by devoted craftsmanship and intricate designs that incorporate flowers, hearts, serpents, butterflies, birds, and other elements of nature. The prosperity put extravagance within reach and using large center stones became common.
What to look for
If you’re looking for a Victorian style ring setting, opt for yellow or rose gold. Yellow gold, rose gold, and silver were the popular metals of the time because jewelers didn’t learn how to work with platinum until very late in the period. Learn about rose gold and how to choose jewelry metals
The Victorian style is mostly about craftsmanship and details that reflect nature. Look for ornate details like engravings and swirly shapes. A halo setting, where small diamonds surround the center stone, is a modern Victorian design and will make the center stone look bigger, further adding to the Victorian style of the ring.
Art Nouveau and Art Deco
Some people think that Art Nouveau and Art Deco are similar, but they actually aren’t. Art Nouveau is more closely related to Victorian styling while Art Deco is a dramatic shift from both.
Art Nouveau began in the mid 1800s and lasted slightly beyond the Victorian era. As a result, there is overlap between the two styles, especially the nature motif. Art Nouveau also embraced the curves found in nature and celebrated the feminine form. Curves and pale colors became very popular as well as representation of the female head with long flowing hair.
What to look for
If you’re interested in a ring with Art Nouveau styling look for a whiplash style curve. This is one the strongest element of the style and set it apart from the intricacies found in Victorian jewelry.
Where Art Nouveau preferred soft curves, Art Deco preferred strong shapes. The style was popular from the 1920s – 1960s and ushered in the modern age. During the 20s, life was a party. Culture and morals were changing and the generation needed it’s own way to show off their affluence. Rather than going the way of intricate designs like the previous generation, they went modern.
In 1922 King Tut’s tomb was discovered, sparking a public interest in all things Egyptian. Falcon and sphinx motifs were popular, as were the emeralds that the Egyptians treasured. Learn more about The History and Meaning of Emeralds
Emeralds were also popular because of their step cut that went well with the clean lines of Art Deco. Asscher cut diamond rings and gemstones were all the rage. Other stones, including rubies and sapphires were utilized often, especially with other contrasting gems.
What to look for
For an Art Deco style ring, bold geometric shapes, symmetry and accent baguettes are a great place to start. Bright colors and straight lines are also characteristics of the style.
It is also best to choose a center stone with an emerald cut or Asscher cut. If you are going with one of those cuts though, clarity becomes especially important. Learn more about Asscher cut diamonds
As you can see by now, different historical events affected the jewelry trends of each era. The styling of rings in the retro era are no different. Their defining historical event was World War II.
The retro jewelry era spans the years between 1935-1950. At this time, women were entering the labor force in huge numbers. Their wardrobe changed from girlie girl to working girl, but they still kept their feminine style when it came to their rings. Soft curves and bold center stones became characteristics of the retro era rings.
Due to the war, platinum wasn’t readily available and neither were pearls and certain gemstones. As a result, jewelers used semi-precious stones like aquamarine, citrine, topaz and tourmaline but in huge sizes not yet seen before.
During the later part of the retro era when the war was over, large statement jewelry became more popular. At the time, cocktail rings and lavish jewelry was a happy reminder that the world was over.
What to look for
Since platinum was being used for the war effort, yellow gold and rose gold was popular during the retro era so it would be ideal for a retro style ring.
Using a center stone besides a diamond would also be favorable for this style of ring. Or if you want a diamond, opt for a fancy shape like a pear shaped diamond or marquise diamonds. Fancy shapes were also popular during the retro era.