Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Finding vintage style engagement rings

When my husband and I started thinking about getting married, I knew I didn't want one of the cookie-cutter engagement and wedding ring sets that you see in most mall jewelry stores: a boring solitaire with a plain setting and an equally boring wedding band.  I'm not a big jewelry person anyway but when I do like something, it's usually something vintage or vintage-styled, something you won't find on anyone else.

We picked out my rings about the same time as we found my wedding dress, but it was before the idea of an all-inclusive 1920s theme really took hold in my mind.  I later found out my set is probably from the 1960s or 1970s but I don't care -- it is still unique and beautiful, and I love it.  The engagement ring has a flower with the biggest diamond set in it and a stem with three leaves also set with (smaller) diamonds.  The wedding band is plain (no stones) with just a textured finish.  We found my husband a ring with a similar texture so that they matched somewhat.


My sister, on the other hand, ended up going for a ring that was vintage style, meaning it was styled after the older looks but wasn't actually vintage.  She and her husband picked out the ring/setting and the stones separately to make sure they were completely happy with everything.

Shopping for vintage rings is a lot more fun, in my opinion, than shopping for the standard wedding set most brides get.  Almost everything you see is different and unique and you can get a good idea very quickly of what you like and don't like.  If you want a genuinely old ring, it helps to do a little research so that you know what to look for.  For instance, this article on antique engagement rings is incredibly helpful -- it talks about the difference between antique (older than 50 years) and estate (within the last 50 years), and has a brief description of what styles were popular during each period of recent history.

In the 1920s, for example, geometric designs and brightly colored stones were popular but it sounds like the colored stones gave way later in the era to glittering rings encrusted with lots of little diamonds.  Platinum was the metal of choice, first for the contrast between the bright stones and the pale metal, and then for the stunning lack of contrast with the metal when the diamond-encrusted look became popular.

When you are shopping for authentic antique jewelry, eBay is a great place to find stuff -- if you are either willing to do your research and be cautious or if you are more interested in getting something that is vintage and unique and not necessarily valuable.  Don't forget that costume jewelry with fake stones and cheaper metals was also very popular in the 1920s.  You can also limit some of the risk by shopping locally at antique jewelry stores but security comes at a price, and the pieces you find there will be more expensive than online.

Another alternative is to do like my sister did and search new rings that are replicas of old ones, or rings made in vintage styles.  For instance, some jewelry and wedding ring companies offer vintage-inspired lines, such as Hearts On Fire's Halo line, which features the diamond-packed style that became popular later in the 1920s and 1930s.  Although you give up the pleasure of knowing your ring is a genuine antique, you will get the uniqueness while still having a little more flexibility to find exactly the size and style you want.

Shopping for vintage style wedding rings is a lot of fun, so take your time and enjoy the search.  Of everything you pick out for your wedding, your rings will be with you the longest, so it's important to take your time to find exactly what you want.

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