Vintage and Antique Rings
Rings have delighted, captivated, and thrilled us for millennia. Vintage and antique rings can be given to express friendship, to make a promise of marriage, or to celebrate memorable occasions. Or you can buy an antique ring for yourself, just because.
Historic Antique Ring Trends
A princess cut diamond engagement ring paired with a diamond-encrusted eternity band is arguably the most popular bridal set in modern history. But antique ring sets didn't start in the 20th Century--not by a long shot.
Some trends in antique rings have romantic beginnings, while other antique rings were born from less noble intentions. Some are still being made today. Learn More »
1930s Vintage Ring with Amethyst and Pearls
Bead pearls and blue and orange enameling add striking contrast to this vintage ring's amethyst. Delicate natural pearl threads capture this vintage ring's amethyst in their alluring web. The beaded pearl filament that trims the violet gemstone is accented at its cardinal points with unexpected bursts of colorful enamel. The filigree band of this ring is intricately pierced along the bezel and down its shoulders. Details: Vintage. Circa 1930 or later. 14k white gold. Emerald faceted mixed cut amethyst; 8.17 carats. Natural bead pearls.
Edwardian Aquamarine Antique Ring
Figure eights skate down this antique ring's shoulders, softening the edges of its alluringly angular aquamarine. The pierced setting of this Edwardian aquamarine ring contrasts the geometric bluntness of the centerpiece gemstone. The scroll motif that meanders throughout the gold band blissfully juxtaposes with the coolness and sharp corners of the hexagonal aquamarine. Details: Antique. Edwardian. Circa 1920. 14k yellow gold. Hexagonal aquamarine; 2.43 carats. Moore and Son hallmark.
Art Deco Antique Ring with Aquamarine and Filigree
An elongated golden hexagon frames this Art Deco ring's masterpiece aquamarine. Lovely and limpid, the aquamarine that is showcased in this antique filigree ring shimmers pale blue iridescence. The gold mounting it is nestled in is intriguingly set on the horizontal. The setting's bezel edging combines with the band's pierced petals and etched leaves to make this ring an artistic tour de force. Details: Antique. Art Deco. Circa 1920 or later. 14k yellow gold. Emerald faceted mixed cut aquamarine; 1.82 carats.
Art Deco Antique Jadeite Ring
Diamond scallops hug tight this Art Deco cocktail ring's enchanting Cabachon jadeite. Like grass after a springtime shower, the oval gemstone bursts with nature's greenest intensity. Diamond scallops embrace the jadeite at the shoulders of the platinum band, cradling it in their cockled edges. Details: Antique, Art Deco. Circa 1920. Platinum. Single cut diamonds; 0.12 carats. Jadeite; 13.21 carats.
Aquamarine and Filigree Antique Cocktail Ring
A pair of calf's head aquamarines forms a romantic bowtie in this antique cocktail ring. The filigree cutwork of the band culminates at the center with a chevron-etched divider and the aquamarines sit atop and beneath this dividing line. Milgraining trims the edges of the two aquamarines. Details: Antique. Circa 1930s. 14k white gold. Calf's head aquamarines; 1.36 carats.
Vintage Almandine Garnet Ring with a Floral Design
Delicate floral blossoms temper the passion in this vintage garnet ring. The almandine garnet at the center blushes red as the reddest rose. The octagonal mounting features four metallic rosettes at its corners. The filigreeing that highlights the band of this vintage ring is threaded down the shoulders with a trio of mill grain streamers. Details: Vintage. Circa 1930s. 18k white gold. Emerald faceted mixed cut garnet; 2.74 carats.
Classic Platinum Citrine Vintage Ring
Classic vintage rings like this one make an elegant right hand ring or a stunning engagement ring. The platinum band of this vintage ring is hand-wrought. The raised, open-weave mounting encases twelve round single cut diamonds. A showstopper cushion faceted mixed cut citrine serves as the piece de resistance. The total gemstone weight of this vintage ring is 17.58 carats. From the Topazery Earth Collection. Circa 2006.
Classic Vintage Aquamarine Ring
This bold and classic Retro vintage aquamarine ring demands to be noticed! The platinum band of this vintage cocktail ring rises to a playful mounting of openwork hearts, rhomboids and crowns. A 14.27-carat emerald cut aquamarine is set inside this display of metallic elements. A pair of straight cut baguette diamonds flanks the aquamarine for a total diamond weight of 0.30 carats. Circa 1950 or later.
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These beautiful antique rings date back to the 1300s. They were quite popular in France through the 17th century. Poesy rings (also called posie rings) were metal rings with inscriptions on the inside of the band. Typically, the inscription was a quote from romantic literature, many of which were written in French.
Modern poesy rings may have more personal inscriptions, diamonds or gemstones on the band, and some are worn on necklace chains.
Made from two or three bands, gimmel rings (also called gimmal rings) fit together like a puzzle to form one ring. They were popular in Europe during the 1500s and 1600s. The tradition was to give one band to your beloved as an engagement ring, then add the second piece during the wedding ceremony.
One especially lovely type of gimmel, called a fede ring, appears to be two hands clasped together. When separated, a third band is revealed with a heart on it. When all the rings are fit together, the two hands wrap around the hidden heart. Some even had hidden inscriptions inside the bands.
Made from straw or plant stems (rushes), these were used as engagement rings--sort of. The rings were woven from readily available materials and given to women instead of a real wedding band.
Legend has it that rush rings were so often used to trick naive young women into giving up their virtue, they were essentially outlawed in Salisbury, England, in 1217.
Victorian Hair Rings
Also called mourning rings, these rings were actually made from human hair. During the 19th century, it was common to wear mourning jewelry after a loved one passed.
The style of the pieces changed with other popular fashion at the time. One common theme was to include a lock of the deceased's hair in the design of the ring. It could be braided, encased in glass, or even mixed into paint.
Though the trend of mourning rings faded some time ago, some people now use human hair in custom wedding rings. Couples can send locks to a jewelry maker to have their own hair weaved into custom wedding bands, or purchase authentic antique hair rings.
Shop our collection of antique rings to find tiny, wearable pieces of history.
The Cocktail Antique Ring
Maybe you've never really thought about how the cocktail ring got its name. It's just a bold piece of jewelry women wear with cocktail dresses, right? Well, yes. But it's much more than that, and its history is an interesting one.
Cocktail rings gained popularity during the 1920s, and are associated with the Art Deco movement. It was the era of Prohibition, and speakeasies opened across the United States to allow people to purchase alcohol illegally. Some of these establishments were simply stores and distributors, but more often, they were nightclubs that served illicit cocktails.
Which brings us to the cocktail ring. People who frequented speakeasies to buy alcohol and socialize were flouting the law. Many women chose to take that rebellion one step further in their choice of jewelry.
Cocktail rings are, by definition, ostentatious. Costume and faux varieties sometimes even border on garish. They usually consist of one large, colorful center stone, sometimes surrounded by several smaller stones such as diamonds. They're meant to catch the light, and the eye. Women wore these rings while drinking to be noticed, and to draw even more attention to the hands that held their cocktail glasses, as if to say, "Look at me! Look what I'm doing!"
Prohibition lasted only a little more than a decade, but cocktail rings continue to adorn the fingers of stylish, confident women. Our collection of antique rings includes more than a few tasteful and beautiful examples of these mini-rebellions. Slip one on, and you can't help but feel a little feisty!
Filigree in Antique Rings
Filigree is the delicate forming of fine gold, silver, or platinum wire into intricate ornamentation. Close examination of antique filigree will reveal delicate threads and minute beads in the metal work. The filigreeing process involves the soldering of curled, twisted, and plaited filaments and miniature beads together, and on top of solid matching metal to form intricate designs. The word has French and Italian origins, as well as the Latin root filum, which means "thread" or "wire."
Greek craftsmen first introduced filigree in the fifth century B.C.E. The jewelry produced during that time often featured filigree representations of the animals the Greeks thought had mystical powers, such as rams, lions, and bulls. Filigree gained popularity during the Victorian era, and was used to create intricate floral designs. Later, during the Art Nouveau period, filigree was used to display the influence of nature in jewelry, creating leaf, vine, and insect motifs. During the Edwardian era, lacy designs were all the rage, and were accomplished with filigree techniques in rings and other types of jewelry.
Protecting Antique and Vintage RingsWhen you purchase brand new, fine jewelry, you may barely think twice before adding some sort of coverage plan to your purchase. However, when you add an antique ring to your collection, you may not realize you have the option of protecting it in the same way. How can you cover your antique ring in the event of loss, theft, or damage?
Protect Your Investment
In addition to specific jewelry insurance policies, jewelry can sometimes be covered under homeowners or renters insurance. However, blanket coverage like that may not be enough to fully replace or repair your precious antique ring. Take some time to find out what coverage you already have, and determine whether it's enough.
Before you can have your antique or vintage ring insured, you must gather some information.
- Proof of value: First, you need evidence of the value of your antique ring. This can include a receipt, an appraisal and a photo.
- How it works: Jewelry insurance is similar to other types of insurance. Once you've provided proof of the vintage ring's value, the insurance company will provide you with a quote. Before you purchase the insurance, make sure you understand the policy, including what is covered and what, if any, cost will be your responsibility if you have to file a claim.
- What it covers: Coverage depends on the insurance company and policy you select. Look for a policy that covers loss or theft at a minimum. You may also want to consider a policy that covers partial loss and repairs. For example, if a stone falls out of your antique ring, you could file a claim to have the stone replaced and the setting repaired rather than having to replace the ring entirely.
Insurance is most helpful to you after something bad happens. You can also take a few important steps in preventing problems before they happen. Proper cleaning and storage of your antique rings will go a long way to keeping them intact.
Regular, gentle cleaning helps you notice loose stones or weak settings before you drop a diamond on the beach. Storing antiques in soft cloth, separated from each other limits wear and tear caused by rubbing. Certain gemstones may require special care, as well.
Invest in a stunner from our hand-picked collection of vintage and antique rings, and then make sure you protect your investment.