How To Identify Antique Engagement Rings (2023)

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by Suzanne Sachs  5 min read



Antique engagement rings are stunning pieces, rich with character, meaning, and history that can add depth and distinction to any couple’s everlasting commitment. Understanding antique jewelry is critical, however, to ensure an older piece is the right choice when choosing and buying an antique ring to symbolize a couple’s promises to one another. Vintage Diamond Ring is here to be an authoritative, comprehensive resource for couples to make the best decision about a piece of jewelry that will be a focal point of their life together and to feel happy with an antique engagement ring to symbolize their promise of a loving and committed future.


In this guide, we will explain the following:

  • What makes a ring antique?
  • Identifying antique engagement rings
  • Paperwork
  • Era
  • Quality
  • Markings
  • Why buy an antique engagement ring?
  • Ethics
  • Sustainability
  • Quality
  • History
  • Care
  • Repairs
  • Matching designs
  • Tips for buying antique engagement rings
  • Choosing an antique engagement ring

What Makes a Ring Antique?

Jewelry is not officially classified as antique just because it may be old. In the jewelry industry, antique rings are only classified as antique if they are at least 100 years old. This makes true antique jewelry exceptionally rare but well worthwhile to fully research in order to appreciate these pieces that have stood the test of time. Antique engagement rings may come from a variety of fashionable eras, from the nature-inspired Victorian era of the 1840s to the bold geometry of the Art Deco period of the 1910s and early 1920s to many other unique and stylish jewelry eras. By learning what makes antique rings so special, couples can make the best choice for a ring to represent their engagement.


Identifying Antique Engagement Rings

It can be a challenge to trace an antique ring’s individual history through a century or more to properly identify and authenticate the piece. Whenever possible, official documentation should be studied to determine if a piece of jewelry is actually antique, but since any piece of old jewelry may have changed hands many times, other steps may be necessary to properly identify antique jewelry. To feel confident about an antique piece, couples should carefully consider…


• Paperwork

The older the ring, the more paperwork it could have to verify its age and quality.
Studying sales receipts, insurance coverage or claims, repair and maintenance records, and inheritance records through wills, estates, and trusts can help potential purchasers recognize the true age of an antique ring and the history the piece has endured.


• Era

Because antique rings can come from dramatically different jewelry fashion eras, it is prudent to carefully study the hallmarks of each era to compare to an antique ring. This can help verify if a ring does indeed match a specific antique era and can verify a ring’s authenticity to a specific time period.


• Quality

A higher quality antique ring will have exquisite craftsmanship, with intricate detail in its setting and design. Older pieces are handcrafted and may show imperfections compared to modern, machine-crafted rings, but those imperfections add character to each ring. The diamond and gemstone quality in an antique ring may also differ from the expectations of modern rings, with fewer facets and warmer yellow or tan tones in diamonds.


• Markings

Because antique jewelry is handcrafted, investigating an individual piece for maker’s marks or other identifiers of specific artisans can help authentication. Learning more about that artisan or jeweler can be part of tracing a ring’s history and recognizing its quality and value. Antique engagement rings may show such markings inside the ring’s band or even worked into the details of a setting.

Ideally, it is best to work with an experienced retailer to properly identify and authenticate antique jewelry. This is particularly crucial for an antique engagement ring, as this one piece of jewelry has such great significance to represent the foundation of a couple’s relationship. An experienced retailer can offer expertise to help a couple feel comfortable and confident that they are choosing an appropriate piece to represent their relationship.


Why Buy an Antique Engagement Ring?

An antique engagement ring can be a dramatic statement about a couple’s relationship as a part of an ongoing romantic history. A couple should carefully consider their personal style and jewelry preferences before deciding on an antique ring, as well as research different antique eras thoroughly to find one that matches their personalities and fashion flair. An engagement and the marriage it promises takes great commitment, and couples should be equally willing to commit to an antique engagement ring, rather than choose such a ring on a momentary whim or with any indecision. The better informed a couple is about the advantages and challenges of antique jewelry, the better they will be able to make the best choice for their engagement ring.


Antique jewelry has many advantages over modern pieces, and couples who are committed to socially conscientious fashion will want to carefully consider the benefits of an antique engagement ring, such as…

• Ethics

Antique rings predate modern conflicts, terrorism, and human rights violations that occur in many diamond-mining nations. Because of this, couples can be assured that an antique engagement ring does not contain any conflict or blood diamonds that may have helped finance these atrocities.


• Sustainability

Giving an antique ring new life in a new relationship is an outstanding way to recycle. With no new mining, refining, or manufacturing steps, fewer resources are used with the purchase of an antique ring, allowing guilt-free enjoyment of a spectacular piece of jewelry.


• Quality

The handmade artistry of antique engagement rings is unmatched for beauty and character, and while these pieces may not have the precision of modern jewelry, the one-of-a- kind nature of antique jewelry is appealing for many couples eager to stand out from the mass- produced crowd.


• History

Choosing an antique engagement ring can be a stunning way to connect to history. With gorgeous rings available from different eras, couples can select a ring that reflects the style and values they wish to honor with a beautiful ring from that point in history.

Before couples commit to an antique ring, it is important to realize there are challenges associated with older rings. Couples should thoroughly understand those challenges and be willing to meet them in order to give an antique engagement ring the care and attention it deserves. Potential difficulties with antique rings and jewelry include…


• Care

Because of the intricacy of antique rings, these pieces require greater delicacy to clean and maintain. Depending on the ring’s design and condition, it may need hand cleaning, which can be more difficult and expensive to arrange to keep the ring showing its brilliance. This is even more of a concern if the ring includes multiple gemstones of different types that may require different cleaning techniques.


• Repairs

An older ring with more wear will naturally require more repairs than a newer piece. This is especially true with intricate settings featuring small accent stones or pave settings, as these small stones may loosen more often. Couples should appropriately budget for repair costs to keep an antique engagement ring in prime condition.


• Matching Designs

While an antique engagement ring can be a showstopper by itself, if a bride-to-be wishes to have a matching wedding band, it can be difficult to find one to coordinate with an antique ring. A plain band of the same metal can be an option, but may not show the same delicate patina of the older ring.


Tips for Buying Antique Engagement Rings

Once a couple understands the complexities of antique jewelry and is ready to commit to an antique engagement ring, it is best to study various antique jewelry fashion eras to decide which best matches their style. When looking at individual rings, study the quality of each piece carefully, as poor quality jewelry is possible for rings of any age in any era. Working with a reputable retailer with extensive experience in antique jewelry is essential, as a good retailer can be an authoritative guide to help a couple make the best choice for their style, budget, and wishes. Vintage Diamond Ring has more than 30 years of experience with antique and vintage jewelry and is committed to helping every client on a personal, individual level to guarantee their complete satisfaction.


Choosing an Antique Engagement Ring

Choosing an antique engagement ring can be a challenge, but with care and consideration, every couple can find a gorgeous ring that suits their style and brings historic flair and more than a century’s worth of beauty to their relationship.



Antique Engagement Rings For Everyone:

No matter which era is your favorite, these time-honored rings have a rich history and individualized character and will continue to have a timeless beauty and elegant appeal that is part of a legacy to pass on to future generations.

Find The Perfect Engagement Ring:

Antique engagement rings are prized not only for their beauty but also for their exquisite attention to detailing and faceting. If you’re looking for a ring with a sense of glamour, sophistication and vintage charm, explore our collection of antique engagement rings today!


Suzanne Sachs

Suzanne has always believed vintage rings can change lives. She's been in the jewelry industry for over 35 years, working with vintage jewelers, diamond dealers, diamond cutters, and gemologists. Suzanne started Artdecodiamonds in 2000 and understood the demand for vintage rings throughout the world. She ultimately started in 2014, and understands each vintage ring is a reflection of you – your history, your relationships, your style, your elegance and is honored to have the opportunity to help you showcase your flair in a unique and exquisite way.


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