Vintage Engagement Rings: A Timeline
Whether you’re searching for a unique engagement ring for that perfect proposal or you’re simply curious to learn more about vintage engagement rings, join us as we travel through eras of timelessly stylish engagement rings from Victorian times through to the 90s.
On this journey, you’ll discover vintage engagement rings that span time and style. From feminine floral and intricate designs to sleek, streamlined styles, these vintage rings feature many timeless elements, which will perfectly symbolise their new wearer.
In general, if you’re looking for a vintage engagement ring, you’re looking for a modern, vintage-style engagement ring setting. And our Bevilles vintage-inspired engagement rings have been meticulously crafted for versatile yet personal appeal that is as timeless and unique as your love. You’ll find examples from our collection sprinkled throughout this guide…
Eras of vintage engagement rings
Victorian era (1850-1900)
Victorian engagement rings were primarily set in yellow gold or rose gold and often included diamonds in rows, halos and clusters, with the halo setting being the most popular. Since modern diamond cuts hadn’t yet been invented, many Victorian era vintage engagement rings are made with old mine, European, step or rose cuts.
Other rings from this period featured antique family stones that were reset, or gemstones handed down from previous generations. As Queen Victoria’s favorite colour, blue was a popular choice, or white, predominantly from pearls and opals.
This yellow gold, diamond halo Love by Michelle Beville ring is a timeless, classic Victorian-inspired vintage engagement ring. It features a 0.4ct solitaire centrepiece diamond surrounded by a halo of hand chosen diamonds, set into 18ct yellow gold.
Edwardian era (1901-1915)
Edwardian jewellery is best known for its intricate, lacy designs. Engagement rings from this time were generally platinum and included an array of ornate filigree designs, such as scrolls, ribbons, vines and floral patterns.
Diamonds and pearls continued to be incredibly popular, although coloured gemstones also appeared more frequently. However, this Edwardian period is far better known for its craftsmanship and designs than its stones.
A great example of the silver hue and complex Edwardian design combining in wonderful harmony is this radiant 1ct diamond ring, which has diamonds configured in three beautiful settings: a halo bed, milgrain edge and diamond claw split shoulder, all set on 9ct white gold.
Art Deco era (1915-1935)
Unlike the curvy, free flowing Edwardian filigree styles, Art Deco placed a heavy emphasis on geometric, often symmetrical, designs. This included straighter and more linear lines, matching gemstone shapes, coloured stone accents, and repeating, sharp angles.
Step-cut diamonds like emerald and asscher diamond cuts became fashionable, and gemstones like rubies, sapphires and emeralds were very popular. During the Great Depression, many consumers opted for more affordable alternatives, such as amethyst, citrine and garnet.
An example of Art Deco inspired design is this magnificent vintage engagement ring, which boasts three baguette cut diamonds in the centre and a surrounding halo that creates a vintage emerald shape, with further brilliant and baguette diamond detailing along the band. All up, there’s 1cts worth of diamonds set to the 9ct white gold band.
Retro era (1935-1950)
Influenced by Hollywood and all its glamour, the Retro era is known for its bright, highly polished gold and bold ring designs. As a result, Retro era engagement rings were produced almost exclusively with loud diamonds. This was aided by the highly successful De Beers diamond marketing campaign in the 1940s.
Solitaire diamond rings with baguette side stones were popular, and the typical size of the center stone grew larger once the Depression ended. Amethyst, aquamarine and citrine gemstones were also used, often accented by small diamonds. These changes coincided with platinum being banned during World War II, which caused a comeback in yellow and rose gold ring metals of choice, and the emergence of white gold as a lovely, more direct substitute.
This Facets of Love 18ct white gold solitaire diamond ring shares the same beautifully sophisticated Retro era design, attention to detail and use of premium quality diamonds, both on the solitaire centrepiece and stunning band detailing, which together totals a jaw dropping 3/4cts of diamonds.
Modern/Mid Century (1950-1980)
As the Western economy grew post-war, engagement rings from this Modern/Mid Century era reflected the growth of the middle class by featuring an abundance of diamonds and gemstones set in flashy, dramatic designs, while retaining the focus on diamond detailing.
Vintage engagement ring designs from this era are generally less bulky and polished, favouring light and textural looks with engraved finishes and braided rope accents. Heirloom engagement rings also became a popular choice during this time.
This elegant 9ct yellow gold ring showcases the statement design of the Modern era so well, from its solitaire diamonds to its timeless, truly breathtaking brilliant claw sweep diamond formation.
How to pick the perfect vintage engagement ring
Vintage engagement rings often incorporate aspects of jewellery styles from multiple eras, blending them into something new. So no matter which era or designs catch your eye, Bevilles is sure to have the perfect vintage engagement ring for your once-in-a-lifetime proposal.
The easiest way to find that perfect engagement ring for your specific needs is to come and visit us in-store, where one of our friendly, knowledgeable team members will be happy to assist. Or simply browse our latest engagement ring selection online right here.