Antique rings and other types of vintage jewelry are resurging in popularity. Antique rings are particularly trendy with brides-to-be. However, many women are wearing them as everyday jewelry as well as for formal occasions.
What's the appeal? One of the reasons antique jewelry, rings in particular, are trendy is because of their history. People love the idea of owning a piece of jewelry that has a story. Antique rings are also coveted because they symbolize longevity.
Any ring that is between 50 and 100 years old can be considered "antique." Rings older than 100 years also fall into this category. However, it would be extremely rare to find something this old today.
The settings of antique rings are characteristic of the particular period in which they were produced. These characteristics developed due to fashion trends as well as the technology that was available. This is usually how the age of antique rings are identified.
Other things also give clues as to how old an antique ring is. Some of these include its metals, its manufacturing method and the types and quality of stones.
With a little practice, you can identify an antique ring's approximate age. Get to know these distinctions and find the perfect antique ring.
1) Victorian settings: Like all things Victorian, antique rings from this period echo romance. The period itself is named for Queen Victoria. It encompasses the years between about 1836 and 1901, coinciding with her reign.
Victorian-era antique rings were often showy, with big jewels and heart, flower or bird motifs. The gems often appeared to be "chunky," with square cuts and lines. Some Victorian-era pieces had very small, intricate designs. However, simple and understated would not be words associated with Victorian jewelry.
Yellow and rose gold were usually the metals of choice. Popular stones/gems included garnets, amethysts, coral and turquoise. Opals became popular when it became widely known that Victoria loved them. Diamonds were incorporated in the latter part of the Victorian period. This is because they were first discovered in South Africa around 1867.
2) Art Nouveau settings: This period overlapped the Victorian era and marked the beginning of "modernism." It spans the years of approximately 1890-1919.
During this period, designers began moving away from square cuts and hard lines. Pieces began taking on a "softer" appearance, like feminine curves.
Material type became less important during this design period. Many pieces were still made from gold. However, other metals also became mainstream and acceptable.
Instead, the focus during this era was more on artistry. "Trendy" designs gave way to pieces that were highly artistic rather than "chic." Nature themed pieces were common. Birds, dragonflies, snakes and flowers can be seen on many pieces from this era.
Gems were sometimes mounted using prongs that doubled as part of the overall design. They were stylized into shapes like flowers and leaves, creating a complete "picture."
3) Edwardian settings: This era spanned the years of approximately 1901 to 1920. It was named for Edward VII. It reflected much of his and his wife's taste in jewelry. This period overlapped both the Victorian and the Art Nouveau era.
It would be difficult to find a piece from this period not made of platinum. It was during this era that technology was developed to manufacture and craft platinum
The gem of choice was, by far, was the diamond. Diamond mining was in full swing by this point. Other, less popular jewels included pearls, sapphires and emeralds.
Technology for intricate filigree and scroll work was also developed and perfected during this era. Consequently, designs were often complex and artistic.
4) Art Deco settings: This period encompassed the years of about 1920 to 1935. It was the era of flappers and female liberation. Antique jewelry from this era reflect this thought.
Gems tended to be smaller (smaller than Victorian-era settings), but luxurious nevertheless. Diamonds were still widely popular. Many pieces incorporated multiple diamonds.
Cuts and shapes went from soft, rounded and feminine to hard and straight. Abstract designs and geometric patterns replaced nature motifs during this period. Metals of choice were gold, white gold and platinum.
5) Retro settings: This era spanned the years of 1935 to 1950. It coincided with the Depression era. Consequently, less expensive materials became popular during this period.
Materials may have been less expensive. However, the designs themselves made up for it. Big and "chunky" gems characterized this era. Most were synthetic, and popular ones included sapphires, rubies, citrines and aquamarines. Diamonds were less popular, especially authentic ones.
Platinum was not available due to the War that was raging. Subsequently, yellow gold became the new metal of choice. It remained popular throughout the entire era and on into the following years. Antique rings from this era were often mounted with oversized prongs. This made the stones appear larger.