The Diamond Pro

Antique & Vintage Engagement Rings: What You Need to Know

By Michael Fried
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If you’re looking for a stunning and unique engagement ring, a vintage or antique style 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. Recieve the quality and value you deserve by choosing Blue Nile, James Allen or Brian Gavin Diamonds

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. Milgrain and filigree are two popular techniques used to create additional detail in the settings.

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, for example, features milgrain around the edges of the halo.

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.

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

18k Yellow Gold Diamond Vintage Engagement Ring

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.

From a gorgeous floral starburst to a fancy milgrain design, the options are truly endless. Antique rings can also be made with any precious metal: yellow gold, white gold, platinum or rose gold.

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.

For example, this regal frame engagement ring setting costs $1,080. When paired with a 0.90 carat excellent round cut H SI1 diamond, the ring’s total cost is $4,170. 

As another example, this vintage cathedral milgrain diamond engagement ring setting costs $1,150. When paired with a 0.61 carat round diamond with I color and VS2 clarity, the ring’s total cost is $2,470.

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 set in 14k white gold

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.

That’s why we highly recommend purchasing a new vintage or antique style from a vendor you can trust. Many high-quality vendors offer stunning rings in these motifs, like this hexagon engagement ring and this white gold filigree ring. 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.

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. 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

Brian Gavin Diamonds

Leibish & Co. (Gemstone Alternative)

Vintage Mill-Grain Halo Diamond Ring with Split Shank
Mill-Grain Halo Diamond Ring with Split Shank from Leibish

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

Best Antique and Vintage Settings for the Most Popular Shapes

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 ring 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.

Shop for vintage diamond engagement rings here.

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

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
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