Home | 7 Things to Know About Vintage Engagement Rings

7 Things to Know About Vintage Engagement Rings

by Emma Arendoski

I admire the concept of a vintage marriage proposal ring: an antique jewelry piece carried to the next generation where it will become meaningful again, but in a completely different way to its new keeper.

When I see antique engagement rings, I think about the journey of that ring in generations past. It was individually crafted, designed with purpose; shined up, and sized perfectly to sit in a ring box and await the big proposal.

The ring’s journey doesn’t quite stop there.

The ring is placed on a ring finger where it will be worn daily through all of life’s ups and downs, earning it namesake as a true vintage engagement ring, adding years to the band like rings around an old oak tree.

Few jewelry pieces are lucky enough to see it all.

The hand-holding.



The reflection on your ring shines back at you on vacation sunsets, sparkles under garden patio lights where friends have gathered, and mirrors your birthday candles flickering, each year adding numbers to the cake while adding another year of worn-in memories to your ring.

Your ring is the ultimate symbol of marriage: it gives you that comfortable and worn-in feeling that lasts — and gets even better with age.

Vintage Engagement Rings

Since vintage rings continue to be a popular trend in the wedding and jewelry industries, I wanted to learn more about what a true vintage ring really means.

I also wanted to know the difference between Art Deco engagement rings and Art Nouveau, two popular jewelry eras. With a 1920’s / Art Deco wedding theme continues to be a hit among couples, I wondered what the major difference was between the two.

I was also curious about the origin of a vintage engagement ring: what truly determines if a ring is “vintage” or “antique”?

Where can you find authentic vintage engagement rings online?

And, lastly, are all vintage engagement rings second-hand?

I know, I’m quite interested in antique engagement rings and it shows!

I hope you’ll discover new facts and insight on antique engagement rings and decide if this style is right for you. I hope this blog post also encourages you to think outside the idea of “new is always better” — that is not necessarily the truth.

Just think of wine! Ha!

Surprising Facts About Vintage and Antique Engagement Rings

The best things in life are passed down for generations; I find it refreshing to keep the journey of a ring alive and wear a piece of history — one that tells a story.

Here are seven things I learned about vintage engagement rings.

Rare Vintage Engagement Rings

1. A vintage ring isn’t given the name simply because of its age.

I think many of us — myself included — assume rings are classified as vintage based on age alone. However, simply being old or dated doesn’t necessarily give the title of true vintage engagement rings.

In order to be authentic vintage engagement rings, it must be anywhere from 20 years until 99 years to be truly vintage.

2. An antique ring isn’t necessarily the same thing as a vintage ring.

This is another surprising fact about engagement rings: a ring can be vintage or a mix of vintage and antique.

Vintage rings are 20 years to 99 years in age.

Antique jewelry is older than 99 years in age. This is how rings are classified as both vintage AND antique engagement rings.

3. There are six major vintage engagement ring eras.

The six eras include the following: Georgian Era, Victorian Era, Art Nouveau, Edwardian, Art Deco, and Retro Era. Each era of vintage engagement rings has its own unique style and is frequently sought-after by collectors. In this post, we’ll cover the major eras during the 1900s: Art Nouveau, Edwardian, Art Deco, and Retro.


Art Nouveau engagement rings utilize the motifs of the world around us in their designs. In this jewelry era, you’ll see flowers, leaves, and insects, among other finds in nature. Another design trait I learned about art nouveau engagement rings: you’ll usually find soft curves and highly decorative finishes.

Art nouveau era rings are made with all kinds of metals, precious stones, and enamel. This is probably where you’ll find the most artistic settings, too.


Since the Edwardian engagement rings run alongside Art Nouveau, it is best known for being incredibly popular during the first 20 years of the 20th century. I also learned due to this fact, ALL Edwardian engagement rings are not officially antique, AND vintage engagement rings as we learned earlier. Interesting, huh?

If bling is your thing, Edwardian engagement rings will be the perfect choice for an antique ring. This style is also very large and rings of this era make statement pieces, frequently running very large and potentially having as many as 4 different colored stones in the setting.

If it helps, I also learned that Edwardian is the in-between of two eras: jewelers will remark that an Edwardian engagement ring is not quite Art Nouveau and not Art Deco. It truly has its own place in art!


Art deco is wildly popular among jewelry collectors and engagement ring buyers today and officially ran from 1920 until 1935. This era of jewelry is best known for bold yet streamlined diamonds and geometric styles. While past jewelry eras were more subdued, Art Deco engagement rings bring out a bold, robust design and draw attention to its geometric shapes.


After The Great Depression in the 1930s, diamond ring sales were at an all-time low. Being resourceful, jewelers sought after less-expensive alternatives such as gemstones, now taking the spotlight over diamonds. Rings with curved motifs are back, as are big and bold statement-making rings.

If you are interested in choosing from vintage engagement rings vs. new modern ones, it may be helpful to find out which era represents your individual style.

To find out what your antique engagement ring style is, use this flow-chart created by Estate Diamond Jewelry. It will help you decide if an antique ring is right for you, and if so, which style or “vintage engagement rings era” is right for you.

If I was choosing an antique ring, my era would most likely fall in line with the Art Deco era. How about you?

via here

5. Caring for a vintage ring comes with a few minor tweaks.

We all know that caring for an engagement ring of any age is important, but did you know the proper caring and cleaning of a vintage ring works a little differently?

It’s true! We found these helpful articles to make caring for and cleaning vintage engagement rings so much easier.

• Read about How to Care for Your Vintage Ring for helpful tips and suggestions.

• Learn How to Clean Your Engagement Ring with suggestions from professional jewelers.

6. Vintage engagement rings aren’t necessarily second-hand.

For some, the idea of wearing an antique ring is exciting; for others, they prefer a brand new ring that hasn’t been worn and passed down for generations.

Every style and preference varies, even when it comes down to the age of the ring.

I never realized how many authentic vintage engagement rings are not actually pre-loved pieces (i.e., passed down). These rings aren’t necessarily estate engagement rings or carried down after being worn for generations; sometimes, a wedding ring hasn’t found the perfect place to land — on your finger! — and it’s waiting for you.

7. You can buy vintage engagement rings online or in-store.

It can be tough to buy an engagement ring online without being a little bit nervous. Buying an engagement ring of any style is nerve-wracking, especially if you’re not sure they are true antique engagement rings.

However, we’ve found helpful resources at Estate Diamond Jewelry to help you navigate the wild world of vintage ring buying.

Here are a few of our top picks of vintage engagement rings to inspire you.

You can view these and more on their easy-to-navigate website. I found myself browsing so many topics about rings while I was there: they are a wonderful resource for any level of jewelry knowledge — and I’m a true beginner. :)


In addition to providing meaningful content about engagement rings of all shapes and sizes, they offer a vast collection of vintage engagement rings online to browse, right from your living room couch!

Click here to shop their massive collection.


In addition to available stock, updated frequently when pieces sell out, you can also see accurate pricing right away.

This is a benefit many jewelry stores overlook; yet, from the point of view of someone who may be buying engagement rings online, it is easier to shop when you know the price calculated in real-time.

Otherwise, shopping for vintage engagement rings is tougher when you have no idea if the final price is in your price range — or a few ballparks over. :)


Plus, if you prefer an in-person visit, you can make an appointment to browse their showroom in New York City. (Details can be found here.)


I love when a company understands the time and attention that goes into picking out an engagement ring. That’s why we know they’ll be happy to help you every step of the way and answer any questions you may have. You can contact them directly here and they are here to help with any question you may have.

If you want to shop for vintage engagement rings on sale, check out the website here.

I hope this helps as you navigate the engagement ring world! I know I learned a lot myself along the way.

Happy Planning!


This is a sponsored post in collaboration with EstateDiamondJewelry.

This post contains affiliate links and we may make a commission on a sale at no additional cost to you.

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