You can always tell when someone is wearing vintage — the item is unique (thanks to an unusual cut, print, or color) and also imperfect, but a little wear is what makes it distinct. This is especially the case when it comes to vintage engagement rings. Though some attach stigma around sliding on someone else's wedding band, it's only myth. From the Victorian-era to art deco, choosing to buy an antique ring means you have the chance to share in the rich history of the sentimental piece on your finger — it doesn't get more special than that.
Jared Klusner, founder and antique jewelry buyer of New York City-based jewelry store Erstwhile, believes there are a few reasons why people opt for vintage engagement rings. "One is the original nature of each ring," he says. Most are unique and hand-crafted, which he says speaks to people's personal styles. On a deeper level, Klusner thinks that modern consumers crave objects that aren't mass produced. "We sit all day in front of a computer, and while it's pretty amazing that a computer can make a ring, nonetheless it pales in comparison to a ring hand-crafted by a skilled artisan." Plus, he says there's a romantic aspect to buying vintage. "There’s a story to each. Most of the time we don’t know the story with a particular ring, however, with that said it evokes the possibilities of a storied past."
And, of course, sustainability plays a role in the popularity of vintage engagement rings as well. "Beyond looking for something beautiful, a lot of our customers share a commitment to a green lifestyle," Emily Wandland, Director of Marketing at Trumpet & Horn, tells TZR. "Shopping vintage is an eco-friendly and conflict-free way to shop, as the purchase places little to no additional strain on the environment. Vintage pieces are made with materials mined long ago, thus ensuring that the environmental and social impact is minimized!"
Whether you're recently engaged or you like being up-to-date on the latest engagement ring trends, shop six vintage styles below. Whatever look you decide on, you'll be the one to carry on a one-of-a-kind legacy.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Vintage Engagement Ring Trend: Three Stone Rings
"Three stone rings have been growing in popularity since Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle with a gorgeous cushion cut diamond flanked by two smaller round diamonds," Wandland says. "This style is coveted not only with three diamonds, but also with a colored gemstone center — sapphires and emeralds framed by diamonds have also been extraordinarily sought after, too."
Vintage Engagement Ring Trend: Resetting Family Stones
Mia Moross, founder of The One I Love NYC, says she's noticed an increase in customers looking to reset family stones. "While this has always been somewhat of a traditional option, today's client tends to lean towards smaller stones set in heavy gold." For example, she says large bands with inlaid gemstones or heavy gold designs adorned with gemstones around the entire ring are sought after. "Yellow gold seems to be the staple for these chunky pieces, and we can’t get enough of it!"
Vintage Engagement Ring Trend: Platinum From The Art Deco
Klusner says the majority of rings sold at Erstwhile are from the Art Deco period (which ranges from the 1915 to the 1930s). "During the Art Deco period fine jewelry was generally made using platinum," he explains. Adding that the metal's strength was a big part of the appeal.
Vintage Engagement Ring Trend: Diamond Halo
Wandland says a diamond halo is a vintage trend that's still popular with brides today. "A diamond cluster design, one center stone surrounded by a circle of diamonds, was popularized in the Victorian era and has remained a mainstay ever since." Bonus: buying a cluster is a perfect way to get a bigger look, without paying for a bigger diamond.
Vintage Engagement Ring Trend: Non-Traditional Gemstones
Moross has noticed that non-traditional gemstones, like rubies, sapphires, opals, and tourmaline, are on the rise. "Diamonds are moving from center stage and are being used more for decorative purposes now," she explains.
Vintage Engagement Ring Trend: Victorian Era Yellow Gold
"For some time we have been seeing a high interest in Victorian era engagement rings made in yellow gold," Klusner says. "Yellow gold was the primary precious metal used in fine jewelry before the discovery of platinum."