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Antique & Vintage Engagement Rings: What You Need to Know

By Mike Fried,

Bottom Line Recommendation

If you’re looking for a stunning and unique engagement ring, a vintage ring or this antique style setting might be a perfect choice. With options ranging from floral designs to cathedral settings, vintage engagement rings can be designed to fit the exact style of the one you love. Review our full guide below to learn more about vintage settings and what to know before you buy.

Our most important recommendation for purchasing vintage engagement rings is to buy one from a highly reputable vendor. Receive the quality and value you deserve by choosing Blue Nile, James Allen or Brian Gavin Diamonds

Vintage engagement ring
Beautiful combined vintage style engagement ring setting in rose gold

 

What is an Antique Engagement Ring?

An antique engagement ring is an engagement ring designed to resemble the ring style of a past era, such as the Victorian or Art Deco periods. Most diamond sellers offer an array of vintage style engagement rings to choose from. Some vintage engagement rings are actual antiques, meaning they are at least 50 years old. True antique rings are often recycled, passed down through generations or bought and resold through diamond resellers

In general, antique engagement rings often have beautiful detailing, such as milgrain or filigree features. This stunning Victorian vintage engagement ring from Blue Nile is an example of a halo engagement ring with an antique style.

Vintage and antique engagement rings have grown significantly in popularity over the last few years, with jewelry industry publication Rapaport reporting that 1920s and 30s engagement rings, often in an Art Deco style, are among the most popular with many buyers.

What is a Vintage or Antique Engagement Ring Setting?

A vintage engagement ring is a ring with an antique style, such as one that’s designed with inspiration from the Victorian, Edwardian, or Art Deco time periods. Vintage settings often feature beautiful intricacies, like milgrain and filigree.

There are several types of vintage engagement ring settings, offering you plenty of styles to choose from. Review the most popular vintage engagement ring settings below to find a ring that fits your unique style.

Halo vintage engagement rings

Halo vintage rings feature a center diamond surrounded by a concentric circle or square of smaller diamonds. Vintage halo ring styles range from hand-engraved milgrain rings like this one from Blue Nile to intricate, antique rings such as this navette halo ring from James Allen.

Milgrain Vintage Halo Engagement Ring
Milgrain vintage halo engagement ring (James Allen)

Floral vintage engagement rings

Vintage engagement rings often include a floral element, such as a halo formed in a flower shape or milgrain detailing that resembles petals. A floral marquise vintage ring is full of character and beauty. A floral halo can also be Art Deco inspired. You can also find vintage floral scalloped halo rings.

Floral Ellipse Diamond Cathedral Engagement Ring
Floral ellipse diamond cathedral engagement ring in vintage style (Blue Nile)

Art Deco vintage engagement rings

The Art Deco style was prominent in the 1920s and 1930s. The style involves geometric designs, abstract patterns, and contrasting colors.  This Art Deco inspired ring from Blue Nile features two prongs and intricate detailing. They also offer a tapered design in this six-prong ring.

Art-Deco Inspired Double Prong Diamond Engagement Ring
Art-Deco inspired vintage diamond engagement ring (James Allen)

Cathedral vintage engagement rings

With a cathedral vintage ring, two arches support the center stone — mimicking the appearance of a cathedral building. These can range from a simple classic style or more elaborate designs with millgrain and filigree.

Cathedral Milgrain Marquise-Shape and Dot Diamond Engagement Ring
Milgrain diamond engagement ring in cathedral style (Blue Nile)

Milgrain vintage engagement rings

Milgrain engraving is an embellishment that gives the ring an “antique” look—with tiny metal balls decorating the sides of the band and the crown of the ring. This infinity halo ring from James Allen, for example, features milgrain around the edges of the halo.

Infinity Milgrain Halo Engagement Ring
Infinity milgrain halo engagement ring in vintage style (James Allen)

Filigree vintage engagement rings

Filigree is another kind of delicate metalwork that features metal beads or twisted metal threads throughout the setting. The antique engagement ring below showcases an example of yellow gold filigree embellishments on the shank and around the bezel set diamond.  You can find similar filigree designs in vintage engagement rings.

18k Yellow Gold Diamond Vintage Engagement Ring

Check out recently purchased diamond engagement rings from our top rated retailers to see more examples of vintage style settings.

Why Choose a Vintage Style Engagement Ring?

Antique style engagement rings are eye-catching because of their non-traditional design, intricate details and classic look. As a timeless piece of jewelry, a vintage engagement ring is well-cherished and often passed down for generations.

You can even personalize vintage engagement rings to fit the exact style and desires of the wearer. Simply put, they stand out from the crowd.

How Much Do Vintage Engagement Rings Cost?

Vintage engagement rings cost anywhere from $900 to $20,000 and more, depending on your setting, your diamond and its 4Cs. Prices for vintage engagement rings are similar to other engagement rings but can cost more if there’s more intricacy in the design.

Antique engagement rings are not cheaper than other rings, and in general, you can find vintage styles in every price range. That’s because many factors impact an engagement ring’s price, including the setting, center diamond and side stones. 

On average, couples spend between $5,000 and $7,500 for engagement rings. Choosing a vintage engagement ring is more about style preference than paying more or less.

Infinity Milgrain Halo Engagement Ring
 Infinity Milgrain Halo Engagement Ring

How to Buy Actual Vintage and Antique Settings — What to Know

You may be interested in purchasing an actual vintage ring—one that’s several decades old. While these can be unique and stunning rings with a special history, buying an older ring is a risky approach—and here’s why.

First, actual antique rings rarely come with a legitimate certificate from the GIA or AGS, giving you no real validation as to the quality of the diamond. The seller may promise that it’s an Excellent Cut with G Color and VS2 Clarity, but they often have no way of proving it.

Second, it’s challenging to understand the actual condition of the setting. Is it securely holding the diamond? Will it deteriorate over time? Again, without proof of the materials used and who made the ring, it’s nearly impossible to understand the quality you’re receiving.

Third, when it comes to cost, an actual vintage ring may not give you the best value. Are you paying solely for the fact that it’s 40 years old? Are you paying for 18K gold when the setting is actually made of 14K gold? The uncertainties with an actual vintage ring are certainly real.

Many of these challenges are explained in this piece from National Jeweler, which provides some helpful tips if you plan to go the antique or estate jewelry route for your engagement ring.

Because of the difficulty of buying actual vintage and antique settings, we highly recommend purchasing a new vintage or antique style ring from a vendor you can trust. Many high-quality vendors offer stunning rings in these motifs. You can achieve the same beautiful, vintage look without the concerns of going with an actual antique.

You can buy an old engagement ring, though, from an estate sale, auction, friend or family member. If possible, we recommend getting a certificate to go along with your engagement ring. That way you can verify what it is you’re buying. You can also shop with Abe Mor to find a beautiful recycled diamond engagement ring. Abe Mor is a trustworthy vendor that many of our readers have worked with.

    Recycled Diamonds on Abe MorAbe Mor

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Vintage diamonds are generally not worth more than newly cut diamonds and tend to be equal in value or slightly less. While antique diamonds are increasingly rare and environmentally-friendly, they are often warmer in color. This could reduce their value up to 20% compared to a similar modern cut diamond. 

A diamond’s value is based on the combination of its color, cut quality, clarity and carat weight. Getting a diamond appraisal on a vintage diamond can help you determine its value and worth. The appraiser should consider aspects such as the craftsmanship, rarity and condition.

Where to Buy Vintage and Antique Diamond Engagement Rings

Because you’ll want to buy your antique or vintage style ring from a highly reputable vendor, choosing a jewelry company is of the utmost importance. Throughout our years in the diamond industry, we’ve closely vetted sellers to determine the best and most reliable in the business.

The diamond dealers below are highly reputable (for more detailed guide to the best places to buy vintage/antique rings, click here). They offer extensive collections of beautiful diamonds and vintage style settings. All diamonds come with an AGS or GIA certificate—giving you confidence in what they’re selling you.

If you have questions about these vendors, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Blue Nile

  • Offers a superb selection of diamonds and settings
  • Maintains the largest online inventory of any diamond dealer
  • Focuses on high-quality settings

James Allen

  • Provides incredible imagery for all diamonds
  • Emphasizes excellent customer service
  • Offers appealing prices on their high-quality jewelry

Abe Mor Diamonds

  • Is the best vendor for true antique rings and diamonds
  • Provides a unique service for custom rings and specialty orders
  • Offers collection of fancy cut diamonds and large diamonds you can’t find anywhere else

Brian Gavin Diamonds

Leibish & Co. (Gemstone Alternative)

  • Offers an extensive inventory of colored gemstone jewelry
  • Sells beautiful colored diamond jewelry (like canary yellow diamonds and purple diamonds)
  • Focuses on high-quality settings and jewelry
Vintage Mill-Grain Halo Diamond Ring with Split Shank
Mill-Grain Halo Diamond Ring with Split Shank

Pros and Cons of a Vintage Setting

A vintage style ring provides immense beauty and unique details. Before making your purchase, review the pros and cons to see if it’s the right option for you.

Pros

  • Provides remarkable beauty and character
  • Enhances the prominence of the center stone when well-designed
  • Matches a time period or personal style preference
  • Unique and intricately built

Cons

  • Can require more cleaning and maintenance due to intricate details and crevices
  • The setting can distract from the beauty and sparkle of the stone (if poorly designed)
  • With an actual vintage setting (different than a new vintage style ring), additional time and expertise is necessary to ensure it’s well-maintained and securely holds the diamond

Vintage style settings can be crafted for any Diamond Shape because of their classic design and ability to customize the setting. Popular diamond shapes for vintage rings include Round Brilliant, Princess Cut, Cushion Cut and Oval.

Antique and vintage engagement rings examples:

Engagement Ring Settings for a Round Cut:

Gold Embossed Diamond Engagement Ring

Engagement Ring Settings for a Princess Cut:

Princess cut bezel set halo engagement ring

Engagement Ring Settings for a Cushion Cut:

Arched Scroll Diamond Engagement Ring

Engagement Ring Settings for an Oval Cut:

Bella Vaughan for Blue Nile Catarina Diamond Engagement Ring

Evaluating a Diamond Ring for Beauty and Value

Be sure to choose the most beautiful engagement ring for your budget.

Review our Diamond Pro resources to help select the perfect ring for the one you love.

  • Diamond Cut: While many mistake Cut for meaning the shape of the diamond, Cut refers to the quality of the diamond’s proportions, angles, facets and finishing details. Cut impacts a diamond’s beauty and sparkle more than any other aspect.
  • Diamond Shape: Diamond Shape refers to the outline or form of the diamond. Diamond Shapes include the Pear, Round BrilliantPrincess Cut and Emerald Cut. Select your shape based on personal preference and style.
  • Diamond Clarity: Your diamond should be eye clean of blemishes and inclusions. Review the diamond carefully and ask for the help of an expert.
  • Diamond Color: Determine if the diamond looks white to the naked eye (i.e. there are no noticeable tints). Ensure, too, that the diamond appears colorless in relation to its setting.

Send our experts an email with any questions on diamonds, rings or jewelry.

Here are more specific setting style topics to browse:

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab created diamonds online. For a limited time Save 25% during James Allen Valentine's Day!
What we love about them:
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  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. Blue Nile have generously offered our readers an exclusive one-time use coupon. (Click Here to save $100 off $1000 purchase)

Please enter your email address to receive your personal one-time use unique coupon code:

What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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