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Vintage Engagement Rings: What You Need to Know

Last updated on March 04, 2024

“They just don’t make them like they used to.”

When it comes to diamond engagement rings, this saying rings true. But in some ways, it’s a good thing they’re not made in the same way. Like other types of jewellery, vintage rings have their pros and cons. We’ll look at them from all angles in this article.

A vintage ring may be a dream come true for your partner, especially if she loves romance, history and items with a past. You may also save money by going with a secondhand ring because, except in rare instances, jewellery depreciates over time. To help you understand the ins and outs of vintage engagement rings, we’ve put together this handy guide. Let’s get started.


The Value of Vintage

Most of the time, you’ll pay less for a vintage ring than you will for a brand new one with similar qualities. As lovely as they are, vintage rings don’t hold their value over time. Of course, there are always exceptions. Right now, for example, the Edwardian Bombé is rare and in demand, so sellers can and do charge higher prices for them.

If you’re hoping to find a good deal on a ring, explore your vintage options. Look for excellent values when it comes to diamonds, but understand that diamond cutting has changed over the years.



Technology has improved jewellery standards just as it’s improved so many other things in modern life. Back in the day, jewellers cut diamonds by hand. Their skills were impressive, but they couldn’t obtain the same sparkle that machine-cut diamonds achieve today. Today’s cuts can also hide defects in ways that yesterday’s jewellers simply couldn’t.

If your partner loves modern diamonds for their sparkle, vintage may be the wrong choice. If she loves old school craftsmanship, though, look for vintage.

And sparkle isn’t the only issue to consider. By today’s standards, colourless diamonds reign supreme. They earn the highest ratings from the GIA and other laboratories, while yellow and brown-tinted diamonds fall down the scale. In the past, though, people prized the warmer-coloured diamonds. Diamond colour comes down to personal preference, though you’ll pay a premium for colourless. Again, what does your partner love? If she loves warmer diamonds, you’re in luck.


Incredible Settings

Before machines took over so much of our labour, jewellers specialised in detailed craftsmanship--the more intricate, the better. If your gal loves details, a vintage ring might suit her perfectly.

During the Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco periods, jewellers spared no expense on the craftsmanship of their settings. The Victorians clamoured for lacey filigree, and the Edwardians prized diamond-encrusted baskets in that iconic dome shape. Art Deco pieces never seem to go out of style with their elegant flair. 

Remember, however, that precious metal ages like other materials. Over time, parts of the ring may become brittle, especially if the ring has experienced hard daily wear. If you’re unsure about the durability of a particular vintage ring, consider having a jeweller check it for loose prongs, damaged stones and its overall wearable condition.


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Vintage Ring FAQ


Where are the best places to look for vintage engagement rings?

Many fine jewellers offer vintage engagement rings in addition to brand new designs. If you’re looking specifically for vintage, call ahead and ask about their selection. Looking specifically for an Art Deco design? Ask what kind of Art Deco selection you can expect to find. 

Online retailers, from Etsy to 1stdibs, have become repositories of some of the world’s most coveted vintage engagement rings. Instead of limiting yourself to the local selection, you can explore antique finds from Perth to New York City.

And don’t forget about auction houses. Sydney-based First State Auctions specialises in fine jewellery, luxury watches and gemstones. You can snatch up a vintage engagement ring with GIA certified diamonds for less.


What does vintage mean?

To be considered truly vintage, a piece of jewellery needs to be at least a hundred twenty years old, and it cannot have been mass-produced. In many cases, the seller doesn’t know the ring’s history and must guess based on the design, materials and other clues such as stamping or signature details.


How do I care for a vintage engagement ring?

When you’re not wearing it, store it in a soft cloth bag and keep it in a safe place. Engagement rings are nearly always worn, however, so you’ll need to develop some habits to keep it secure.

Remove your ring when cleaning with household chemicals, working in the garden or using heavy tools or machinery. Clean your ring regularly, especially if it has intricate filigree or other crevices. Avoid exposing your ring to ammonia, and take it into your jeweller if you notice any loose or damaged parts.


Can I insure a vintage engagement ring?

Yes! We recommend that you insure your vintage ring the moment you walk it out of the store. With a Jewel Cover policy, your one-of-a-kind ring will always be protected, even when you travel. Don’t risk losing it to theft, loss or damage. Get in touch with us to learn more about affordable insurance for your vintage engagement ring.


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