How to Buy Vintage Engagement Rings

Learn how to buy a vintage engagement ring! Explore the pros and cons to both antique engagement rings and vintage style engagement rings. And, learn how to buy a 'new' vintage engagement ring.

What is a vintage engagement ring?

Today, the category of ‘vintage engagement rings’ encompasses both antique rings and new rings with vintage reproduction details.  This includes engraved rings, gemstone rings, Art Deco engagement rings, and many more.  Understanding the pros and cons of both old and new rings will help you select the perfect design that fulfills your vision while meeting the demands of your lifestyle.  Yes, lifestyle!

Should I Buy an Antique Ring?

Antique rings are intriguing.  Each ring has its own place in history.  They make one wonder who owned the ring, who designed it, how did they propose, did they live a happy life together.  However, an antique ring is a preowned vintage engagement ring and that can host a number of concerns that may not pair well with all lifestyles and long-term budgets.  

Pros of Antique Rings

Two of the biggest pros to selecting an antique engagement ring are intrigue and authenticity.  That is something that is very hard to reproduced in a new ring. As an antique, each ring has its own legacy, innate beauty, and appeal.  

Antique rings are pure romance!  Each nick in the band has a story.  The patina is a sign of longevity.  All those details are evidence of who owned the ring, what was the story of their life together, what adventures did they have, what were their struggles, what were their triumphs.  It’s so romantic it could be a made-for-tv Christmas movie.  

Also, the details that adorn an antique ring are authentic!  They were crafted at the moment these trends were emerging.  Each design element is a piece of history and teaches us about fashion and design.  For example, Art Deco engagement rings mark a major turning point in fashion, jewelry, and design.  Owing an authentic antique ring from the Art Deco period is literally owning history.

Cons of Antique Rings

It’s important to recognize that antique rings are used pieces of jewelry.  A preowned vintage engagement ring is a piece of jewelry that has already had a lifetime of wear and tear.  Just like antique cars and old homes, time will eventually take its toll on everything.  This is especially true of antique rings.  A lifetime of wear means that it has likely been sized many times, each sizing flexes the metal and slowly takes away from the strength of the band, reducing its longevity.  Prongs that hold stones can get weak, thin, and crack.  Romantic details such as a millgrain coin edge or engravings can be worn away.  Maintaining an antique ring will require more upkeep than a new ring as well as possibly requiring restoration to make the ring durable enough for daily wear.

Tips To Buying an Antique Engagement Ring

Now that you understand the cons of buying an antique ring, if the intrigue out ways the concerns, here are a few tips that may help you find and ring in good condition:
- Prongs: Are the prongs thin, bent, uneven, have any cracks, and do they touch the stone?
- Band: Look at the palm side of the band, do you see any shadows, cross section lines, or cracks? This is evidence of sizing.
- Profile: If you look at the profile of the ring, is it well rounded or is it misshapen?
- Cleanliness: Look at the underside of the ring, is it clean or are there pockets of dirt and debris?
- Construction: Is the ring hollow, is the band thin, can you clearly see the details such as a coin edge, engravings, or sculpted details?

Should I Buy a Vintage Style Engagement Ring?

All the beauty, less the stress!  Vintage style engagement rings have many benefits.  A few of the biggest benefits are unlimited options to choose from, less worry about its condition, and you are the first person to ever wear the ring.

Pros of Vintage Style Engagement Rings

Unfortunately, the antique ring you want, may not exist no matter how many estate jewelers you visit.  Instead, visit your local jeweler and shop for a vintage style engagement ring that allows you to check all the boxes on your wish list.  Vintage style rings offer similar romantic motifs and intricate details, with the flexibility to create the ring you want.  

New rings also allow you to select a ring that has never been worn.  You don’t need to worry about excessive wear, decades of sizing, worn prongs, or missing details.  Not only can these issues compromise the longevity of your ring, but can also be costly to restore and maintain.  Sure, new rings will also need upkeep, but it’s likely to be occasional and isolated, rather than regular and routine.

Tell your love story!  While some people find the intrigue of an antique ring alluring, others may not.  If you prefer to begin your life together with a ring that is unique to you, then selecting a new ring is important.  

A New Antique Engagement Ring…it’s possible!

There are a couple ways you can have all the benefits of a new ring while adding the allure and romance of vintage jewelry!  First, you can use a family diamond or gemstone from a piece of heirloom jewelry, remounted into a new engagement ring.  Second, you can buy an engagement ring from a historic jewelry designer, such as Jabel.  At Jabel, the rings are made using the same heirloom quality techniques as they did in 1916 including die striking, as well as hand engraving.  Some of the tools and dies even date back to designs from 1925.

Let’s discuss heirloom diamonds and gemstones.  These stones allow you to add a touch of family history to your new engagement ring.  This is most often done by recycling diamonds or gemstones from older family jewelry into a new engagement ring.  However, if you don’t have heirloom stones or do not want to dismantle your family’s antique jewelry, you can research buying vintage cut diamonds.  It is important to note, depending on how long ago the stone was cut, it may not offer the same degree of brilliance as a diamond cut today.  Today’s diamonds use modern techniques that bring out a greater degree of brilliance in a diamond.  Older diamonds use what is called ‘mine cut’ that tends to be less brilliant.  

Finally, companies like Jabel use the same die struck manufacturing techniques as they did in 1916.  Great measures are taken to maintain antique master dies, machine presses, and cutting tools.  Likewise, the rolled engravings, such as those used in the scroll and millgrain collection, are original design and crafted from original masters. Jabel’s hand engraved patterns also continue to be hand applied by the same Jabel artisan who has engraved rings for decades.  Additionally, many of Jabel’s early designs are still in the line today. In fact, the ribbon mounting is depicted in a 1925 catalog. The Jabel collection allows you to own a NEW antique design.

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