The Historical Eras of Vintage Engagement Rings

Vintage designs are statement makers in their own right. Couples looking for a unique engagement ring with charming details fit to match the brides’ beauty and shared romance should consider a vintage or vintage engagement rings.

Learn more about the vintage eras to help you choose the right ring. 

Tropical Vintage Platinum Round Halo Engagement Ring: ER10052PT3JJ

Tropical Vintage Platinum Round Halo Engagement Ring: ER10052PT3JJ

Georgian (1714-1830)

Engagement rings from this particular time period are extremely rare. Majority of Georgian antique rings are handmade, typically from 18k gold and silver. One distinguishing factor of the Georgian Period is the use of many different stone shapes and sizes in one single piece.

Because gemologists lacked the technology we have today, rose cuts and table cuts were commonly used on diamonds, sapphires, garnets, precious topaz, and amethysts. Many Georgian rings also include intricate floral, bow, or scrolling motifs.

Victorian-styled engagement ring with intricate detailing. Castleton – ER9041W44JJ

Victorian (1835-1900)

Inspired and named after the beloved Queen Victoria, the Victorian Period consists of jewelry trends that resembled the stylish fashion and jewelry tastes of the Queen. Married in 1840, Queen Victoria wore a snake motif ring set with her green emerald birthstone as her engagement ring.

In the Victorian era, it was very common for birthstones to be used instead of diamonds for engagement rings. Victoria went into a period of mourning when her dear husband died in 1861, inspiring the use of gold lockets and darkened, rustic-like pieces. With the discovery of diamonds in South Africa and the rise of an industrial revolution, diamond solitaire engagement rings were created and jewelry reflected the birth of a new modern age.  

Montgomery Vintage Platinum Round Halo Engagement Ring - ER12581R4PT4JJ

A hand etched band and exquisite detailing. Montgomery – ER12581R4PT4JJ

Edwardian (1900-1915) 

Once Queen Victoria passed away in 1901, her son Edward took over the throne, introducing the Edwardian era. During this era, there were huge advances in metal fabrication (cutting, burning, welding, machining, forming, and assembly to create the final product) allowing jewelers to finally work with platinum to produce intricate yet durable pieces.

Jewelry from this period was light, detailed and delicate with diamonds as the gemstone of choice and ‘milgraining’ as THE metal decoration of this time. With these advancements, it is much easier to date jewelry that was manufactured in the early 20th century or later.  

Nolan 14k White Gold Round Halo Engagement Ring: ER910101W44JJ

A vintage-inspired diamond halo with intricate floral designs. Nolan: ER910101W44JJ

Art Nouveau (1985-1915)

As an artistic resistance movement against technological advances, the Art Noveau was born which overlaps the Victorian and Edwardian eras. However, jewelry from this period was praised for hand-craftsmanship, creativity and designs using Japanese themes (birds, dragons, nature) as inspiration.

Diamonds were used scarcely, and gemstones like opals, agate, and moonstones became the highlight of a piece. The most notable design technique of this time was enameling which adds a stained glass effect of rich colors to artistically complement the nature themes. 

Ramona Vintage 18k White Gold Round Twisted Engagement Ring - ER13966R6W83JJ

Inspired by the glitz and glamour of the Art Deco era.  Ramona – ER13966R6W83JJ

Art Deco (1915-1935)

Men were off at war while women were taking up roles as the breadwinner, earning their own money and learning valuable skills which later led to the independence of women. Such a bright new perspective on life brought about bold characteristics in jewelry such as a heavy emphasis on geometric designs. Lines were straight and linear, and the gemstone shapes matched.

Sapphires, rubies, and emeralds were precisely cut and used to add splashes of color. Often times, black onyx and red coral were used as accent colors, white gold was the metal of choice and long strands of pearls worn complementing the “Roaring 20’s” flapper-style.

Carol 14k Yellow/white Gold Round Straight Engagement Ring - ER14089R6M44JJ

Pave diamonds nestled between the edges of a luxurious yellow gold band. Carol – ER14089R6M44JJ

Retro (1935-1950)

All the jewelry of this era was influenced by Hollywood and all its glamour, making it easily identifiable. With the use of bright, highly polished gold (yellow, rose, and green gold), jewelry was big, bold and three-dimensional. Large semi-precious gemstones like amethyst, aquamarine, and citrine were the often accented by small diamonds and/or calibre cut rubies and sapphires. 

Common design themes from this era include big flowing ribbons and bows, as well as the use of flowers and even animals. Wide gold bracelets, oversized dress clips and earrings that were worn high up on the ear were all popular styles.

CARA 18k White Gold Round 3 Stones Engagement Ring - ER13677R6W84JJ

Two strands of crisscrossing pave diamonds form the extraordinary band of this modern three stone engagement ring. CARA – ER13677R6W84JJ

Modern (1950-present)

The economy grew which lead to the rise of the upper middle class after the war. Jewelry from this era reflected this growth by featuring an abundance of gemstones set in flashy, dramatic designs, with an ultimate focus around diamonds once again.

Though 1950’s jewelry was similar to those of the 1940’s, its execution of designs was different. Opposed to the bulky, high polished look of retro jewelry, modern designs were now more light and textural with engraved finishes and braided rope accents.

Find a vintage-inspired engagement ring that can be cherished today, and later become an heirloom for generations to come. Shop our diverse collection of vintage-inspired engagement rings

To learn more about vintage design details, click here.

Click here to view Top 10 Vintage-style Engagement rings from Gabriel & Co..