If you love vintage rings and are doing some research before you come to see us, you’ll probably come across terms like ‘Victorian’, ‘Edwardian’, ‘Art Deco’, and more. That can be a little confusing if you’re not an expert on the history of jewellery making, so we’ve put together this Vintage Rings Style Guide to explain them all!
This spans the reign of Queen Victoria of England (1836-1901), who remains their longest-serving queen ever, although the current one is rapidly closing in on that record!
The queen had a great love of opals, and this was reflected in the jewellery of the early part of her reign, as it was the most popular choice of gemstone among her loyal subjects when it came time for them to choose an engagement ring or wedding ring.
In 1867, things changed, when huge discoveries of diamonds were made in South Africa, which was then part of the British Empire. Diamonds became much more available and even more affordable than before, and so they replaced opals as the most popular stone – a custom that remains to this day.
Meanwhile, gold being imported from the California Gold Rush meant that the quality of precious metal used in the bands greatly improved, and 18-carat and 24-carat gold was typical of the time.
A Victorian style ring will have a classic romantic look, and most likely a relatively large diamond as its centrepiece.
An example is showed here vintage engagement ring (JL106/L) featuring a brilliant round cut diamond, flanked on both shoulders by a series of smaller stones. This reflects how diamonds were becoming more commonly used after the discovery of the South African mines.
The Edwardian Period covers the reign of King Edward VII (1901-1910), and even a few years afterwards, as the styles that became popular during his reign remained so after his death.
Rings of this time were becoming more elegant and refined, with fine filigree work being extremely popular. Diamonds and platinum were the most common materials used.
An example of an Edwardian-style ring is this graduated five-diamond vintage eternity ring design (AC39), featuring fine detailing in the band above and beneath a diamond combination that is subtler than the larger stones which featured in the earlier age.
Art Deco Period
The Art Deco period ran from approximately 1920 to 1935 and coincided with huge social changes in Europe and the USA.
This was the Jazz Age of the ‘Roaring Twenties’ and the artistic movement of the time reflected itself in jewellery by introducing bright colours and sharp straight lines to engagement rings and wedding rings.
Rubies, sapphires, and emeralds rivalled diamonds in the popularity stakes, and there was often a combination of two or even more types of gemstone in a ring.
A good example of an Art Deco style ring is this vintage engagement ring design (TA191) featuring an emerald cut diamond and square-cut rubies, to exhibit the colours and straight lines that were popular at the time.
The Retro Period is generally measured as having run from 1935 to approximately 1950, and was heavily influenced by both The Great Depression and World War II. Platinum wasn’t available and so gold was used in just about all cases, while rubies and sapphires were popular alternatives to diamonds.
Ring designs became ‘chunky’ and square, and illusion settings – to give the impression of a larger stone than was actually the case – became common in engagement rings, reflecting the financial hardships of the times.
This was also the age of great Hollywood glamour however, and a Retro Period style ring can give you some of the grace and elegance of the stars of the silver screen of the time.
An example is this double halo setting of round brilliant cut diamonds (BG10), typical of a ring that might be worn by a movie star. It crafts a large number of diamonds together to bring maximum sparkle, in an overall square setting that was the hallmark of the age.
We can meet your vintage-style ring needs no matter what style you may prefer, as we have a broad range of beautiful rings in stock at all times and can also have one custom-made for you if you have any other specific requests.