Is a vintage or antique ring right for you?
If you’re looking for an engagement ring with plenty of personality and uniqueness, a vintage or antique ring may be the right option for you! These rings bring an elegant, sophisticated beauty to any bridal set, and their designs often feature intricate details that aren’t always found on modern engagement rings. Vintage and antique rings can be tough to find, but there are some retailers who offer antique and vintage-inspired designs at affordable prices.
So is a vintage or antique engagement ring right for your needs? Let’s take a look at the details regarding both of these styles, including:
- What are antique and vintage engagement rings? Is there a difference?
- Uncommon diamond cuts found in vintage and antique rings
- How much do antique and vintage ring settings cost?
- 11 stunning antique and vintage engagement settings to inspire you
- The pros and cons of vintage and antique ring settings
- Where to buy your own antique or vintage ring
So what is a vintage setting? What is an antique setting? And are they the same thing? Not always! It can be easy to look at these terms and think that they overlap, but their definitions in the jewelry world are fairly defined.
Vintage engagement rings are anything over 20 years old—so for us right now, anything from 2002 or older is vintage (way to make us feel ancient!). Vintage designs have more to do with the style of the piece rather than its age, and they may incorporate aspects from even older designs as well.👵🏻
In contrast, antique engagement rings are usually over 100 years old, so roughly 1920 or older. These pieces are usually associated with a particular era, and you may see labels like “Art Deco”, “Edwardian”, “Victorian”, etc. when looking at antique rings. These labels give you a better idea of the age of the item, offering a glimpse at the decade in which the ring was created. You can even find these labels on older vintage pieces as well, and here’s a quick breakdown of the decades each era encompasses just to give you an idea:
- Victorian Era (1835-1900)
- Edwardian Era (1900-1920)
- Art Deco Era (1920-1940)
- Retro Era (1940-1960)
Both setting styles can have beautiful, intricate designs that utilize techniques no longer common in the jewelry industry, or they can have simple silhouettes that focus on a gorgeous center stone. Speaking of center stones, you can even find antique emerald rings, vintage sapphire rings, and other pieces with colored gemstones that bring a touch of color to your bridal set. There are also modern engagement rings that feature vintage and antique elements as well for the best of both worlds!😚🤘🏻 We’ll show you a few of these rings later, but they offer couples a chance to purchase a new ring with vintage and antique-inspired details, giving them a similar look without any previous wearing history.
On a related note, why choose an “older” setting when you can get a new one that’s never been worn before? There are several reasons couples are moving toward vintage and antique settings, including:
- Vintage/antique settings use diamonds and metals that are already in use, and many couples prefer buying these items that have already been mined rather than funding the diamond and precious metals industries.
- These pieces offer style elements and designs that often aren’t seen in newer rings today, so couples with unique tastes may find these rings suit them better.
- Vintage/antique rings sometimes use diamond cuts that aren’t commercially available at most retailers anymore, so couples who prefer antique or vintage diamond cuts would benefit from an older ring.
- These rings offer a different take on a diamond’s sparkle, typically offering a glowing, warm diamond rather than icy white brilliance, and some couples absolutely adore this look!❤️
- Some couples like rings with a little history! It can be romantic to imagine the happy couples who owned an engagement ring before you, and it’s a sweet symbol for the ways your love transcends the tests of time.
So now we know what constitutes vintage and antique engagement rings as well as why people choose them! Let’s look more closely at their design elements, pricing, etc.
One of the best things about vintage and antique ring settings is the diamond cuts used in these unique designs. Today, diamond cuts focus on providing as much sparkle as possible, and the round brilliant is the most popular diamond cut available thanks to its ability to bring out the most brilliance, fire and scintillation.
However, antique and vintage pieces often feature cuts with fewer facets that have a more romantic glow about them. While they can still sparkle beautifully, you may notice more of a focus on the warmth—and possibly even the color—of the center stone. Here are a few antique and vintage diamond cuts you may encounter as you begin your search (and we’ll link to some guides we’ve already created for some of these designs!):
Point cut: Originating in the Middle Ages, it’s often recognized as the “first diamond cut”. The diamond remained in an octahedral shape, and craftsmen polished each gem to a point. This made the natural facets more symmetrical to promote a sparklier stone.
Single cut: This diamond cut has 8 crown facets and 8 pavilion facets, and it dates back to the 1300s. Also called “eight cuts”, they have a distinct octagonal shape and a simple appeal.
Old Mine cut: A predecessor of the modern cushion cut, this design has a pillow-like shape and larger facets than the current style. Appearing in the early 1700s, this cut also has a large culet, small table, deep pavilion, and high crown and produces less waste than other cuts of the time.
Old European cut: Crafted in the late 19th century and featured in jewelry until roughly the mid-20th century, this cut is the predecessor of the modern round brilliant with 58 facets for excellent sparkle. That being said, it was hand-cut and designed to sparkle best in dim, candlelit rooms (the norm at the time), meaning this cut brings a warm inner fire to each stone with antique charm and organic brilliance.
Rose cut: This cut is a little ambiguous, as it can have 3 to 24 facets depending on the craftsman. First appearing in the 1500s, the cut has triangular facets, a flat bottom, and no table for a domelike shape, giving it the appearance of a budding rose. What they lack in fire they make up for in antique appeal, and they’ve seen a resurgence in popularity in recent decades.
Navette cut: “Navette” is actually the original name of a marquise cut diamond, and the initial design has the same two pointed ends we know and love today (but with a large culet). The original navette is from the 1700s, but the marquise cut regained popularity throughout the decades and really rose to fame during the 1960s-1970s.
Asscher cut: Before the Royal Asscher cut was reintroduced in the 1990s, the original Asscher cut debuted in 1902 and was a mainstay of the Art Deco period. This original cut had 58 facets, a smaller table, and less pronounced corners.
Prices for antique and vintage settings can range from as little as $1,000 to upwards or $20,000 or more. Seems like a large gap, right? Overall, vintage and antique rings don’t cost any less than modern designs, as price comes down to the number of diamonds, the 4Cs, the metals used to make the setting, the age of your ring, and more. A simple solitaire is going to be much more affordable than an antique ballerina ring with plenty of gems, so it’s important to take the time to figure out what type of ring you want and can afford before moving forward.
✈️Additionally, if you want an elaborate ring, it may sometimes be cheaper to have one made for your particular needs than to purchase a vintage or antique one. That way, you have more control over some major price factors, like gemstone quality and size, metal type, etc. And, if you want vintage elements without actually needing a true vintage or antique ring, you can also use recycled metals or antique diamonds to shave a few dollars off and get the same appeal. So, you’re really not saving any money by purchasing these types of settings, but if they fit your personal tastes better that’s all that matters!
“Why eleven?” you may ask. Well, because we just couldn't narrow it down to 10 with so many AMAZING designs to show you! So here are some antique, vintage, and antique/vintage-inspired engagement rings from almost every era, and we’ve placed the antique and vintage rings in order from oldest to newest to give you an idea of how trends have changed over time!🎸😋
This Edwardian diamond engagement ring dates back to the 1800s, and it rocks an old mine cut center diamond with 6 equally stunning accent stones sporting a similar cut. The handcrafted platinum setting has a simple band with incredible details around the center stone that almost make it look like a blooming flower.
We’re suckers for a beautiful cluster ring, and this Georgian design from the 1840s is giving us serious royalty vibes.👑 The ring features 9 old mine cut diamonds, with 8 smaller stones circling around a slightly larger one at the center. The setting is 14K yellow gold with long prongs and a stylish, geometrical pattern along the band for an extra classy touch.
Hailing from the Victorian era, this ring crafted in the 1890s has a single Old European cut diamond at its heart. Despite being set deep within the 14K yellow gold setting, the diamond seems to scintillate in its tab prongs even when standing still! And check that soft, feathery pattern as well as the engraved names still visible within the band—how romantic!
We’ve made it to the Art Deco period, and this ring is a perfect example of the geometric elements and sparkling aesthetic reserved for the early 1900s. The round transitional cut diamond in the center looks octagonal in shape thanks to the complex metalwork of the 14K white gold setting, which features milgrain and floral accents. Even though there aren’t any accent diamonds, this setting seems to glitter thanks to all of those intricate metal designs!
For something classic and timeless, you can’t beat a solitaire, and this vintage ring from 1975 is sure to please! With a simple 18K white gold band that pinches near the single 0.78-carat diamond, this bare design calls attention to the six claw prongs that hold the diamond in place. And if you view the ring’s profile, you’ll notice some subtle swirls under the cathedral-style basket!
How about a vintage emerald engagement ring to add a splash of color to this list? The 1-carat emerald in this ring is flanked by several sparkling diamonds to accentuate its lively green color, and the milgrain and slightly pinched band add just enough detail without detracting from the colorful display.
We’ve made it to our “inspired” designs, and we’re starting off strong with an emerald cut engagement ring that features a unique clover-shaped halo. Set in 18K yellow gold, the center stone gleams among the 30+ round brilliant diamonds that encircle it, and the pinched clover design gives it a softer silhouette.
This heirloom oval engagement ring has all the hallmarks of an “inspired” design. The simple solitaire comes to life thanks to the milgrain edging of the 18K white gold setting and single pavé diamond on either side of the center stone, which add sparkle without taking attention away from that oval stunner!🤩
Another emerald cut design, this vintage ribbon ring swirls about the emerald cut center stone to provide extra sparkle with its many round brilliant accent stones. The platinum setting also has a twisted shank for added detail, and the combination of smooth platinum with pavé sections is quite a nice contrast!
This vintage-inspired rose gold engagement ring sports a complex, twisting motif that seems to wrap around the entire ring! A pavé halo and accent diamonds compete with a braided design that swirls around the 14K rose gold setting, and even the bars that hold the center stone in place are decorated with glittering diamonds.
A design by Zac Posen, this vintage-inspired Art Deco engagement ring looks like it stepped out of an estate catalog! The round diamond center takes on an almost octagonal shape with the addition of an 8-sided metal halo, and several accent stones sit within the halo and band for a little extra sparkle.
You’ve read all the details, but it’s time to sum up the good and not-so-good of antique and vintage rings. Here’s a quick list of the finer points for easy reading:
- Buying antique and vintage stones means you’re not contributing to the diamond or precious metals trade.
- You can find unique and beautiful designs we don’t often see anymore, making for a one-of-a-kind engagement ring or bridal set.✅
- These settings are often great at highlighting the center stone and raising it above the metal band for more light to enter the stone.
- These designs may better match your personal style if you prefer a vintage aesthetic.
- Vintage and antique rings may use lesser-known diamond cuts that offer a different take on a diamond’s sparkle.🎺
- Antique and vintage engagement rings have romantic history, which can be a sweet symbol to bring into your own marriage.🧁
- Your ring may require more frequent cleaning and maintenance due to age or the intricate design of the metal setting, so it’s something to factor into your budget.
- You may need to find a jeweler who specializes in vintage or antique pieces to make sure your ring is cared for, as not all jewelers know how to maintain these settings.
- Any actual antique pieces may be pricey, especially when purchased via auction.
- It can be difficult to find true antique rings with certifications, so you may either have to search a little longer for guaranteed quality or take the risk of purchasing a ring without documentation.
It’s important to use a retailer you trust when purchasing antique or vintage rings, as there’s always the chance sellers may be dishonest in the actual history or construction of your ring! As such, we’ve put together a small list of retailers who do their best to offer as much info as possible about your item, whether it’s an actual vintage or antique ring or just inspired.
- Vintage-inspired designs
- Estate and antique pieces available
- Recycled metals
- Comprehensive customer support
- 30-day hassle-free return policy
- Antique and vintage engagement rings in addition to newer antique and vintage-inspired designs
- Extensive customer service page
- 24-hour cancellation period on all orders
- Buyer protection and price-match guarantee promises
- Modern and estate jewelry available
- Matched pairs of diamonds if looking for more than one
Some couples are immediately drawn to the classic beauty of vintage and antique engagement rings, and we can’t blame them!😚 There are some stunning designs in both categories, offering elaborate details and unique diamond cuts that we often don’t see anymore, not to mention the incredible history that comes with some of these rings.
If you love the look of vintage and antique engagement settings but still want something new with classic elements, we definitely recommend taking a look at inspired pieces rather than actual vintage or antique diamond rings. And if you’re still not sure what style of ring you’re looking for, take a look at our engagement ring setting guide for more inspiration!