Rings are the most meaningful of all jewelry. Rings have delighted, captivated, and thrilled us since the third millennium BC. Perhaps antique rings are the most popular type of jewelry worn today because they touch our hearts with stories of the past and remind us of our dreams for the future. Antique rings are given to express friendship, with the promise of marriage, and to celebrate memorable occasions.
A History of Antique Rings in the Art World
Spanning three centuries (the 14th to 17th), the cultural movement of the Renaissance had a significant impact on all aspects of life, and jewelry was no different. Antique rings, in particular, reflected what was taking place in the world even after the era officially came to an end. Learn More »
Classic Platinum Citrine Vintage Ring
Classic citrine vintage rings like this one make an elegant right hand ring. The platinum band of this classic 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 this classic cocktail ring's piece de resistance. The total gemstone weight of this platinum vintage ring is 17.58 carats. From the Topazery Earth Collection. Circa 2006.
Art Deco Filigree Antique Ring
Lacy filigree give this antique ring a delicate, airy beauty. Spun of 14k white gold, the tangled and pierced filigree web of this antique Art Deco ring has a dream catcher quality to it. Details: Antique, Art Deco. Circa 1930. 14k white gold. Round brilliant cut diamond; 0.23 carats.
Edwardian Antique Ring with Cushion Cut Emerald
A halo of diamonds surrounds a cushion cut emerald in this enchanting hand-wrought Edwardian ring. This romantic antique ring features a natural cushion cut emerald in a classic Edwardian setting. Twelve old mine cut diamonds surround the blueish green emerald creating a glittering halo. The shank is carved with a wheat motif. Details: Antique, Edwardian. Circa 1920. 14k white gold. Cushion cut emerald, 1.30 carats. Old mine cut diamonds, 1.26 carats.
Edwardian Antique Filigree Ring
In this playful Edwardian antique filigree ring, two bezel set gemstones -- a greenish blue aquamarine and a pastel blue green quartz -- are framed by diamonds. The classic platinum hand-wrought filigree mounting of this Edwardian antique ring is dazzling with 50 bead set diamonds which accent an aquamarine and a quartz. Make a statement with this smashing ring -- it's art for your finger! Circa 1915.
Edwardian Antique Ring with Sapphires
The pretty band of this Edwardian antique ring is pierced with a floral and bow motif. Two matching white sapphires burst from the center of the flowery ribbon backsplash in this Edwardian antique ring. These focal point gemstones are hexagonal set side by side. A flame fusion blue sapphire is wedged between the two white sapphires, dividing this antique ring into two distinct yet equally scene-stealing segments. Details: Antique, Edwardian. Circa 1920. 18k white gold. Round cut white and rectangular cut blue sapphires; 1.55 carats.
Vintage Amethyst Cocktail Ring with Floral Trim
Even spring's most perfect lilac couldn't rival this vintage cocktail ring's amethyst. The focal point amethyst gemstone in this vintage cocktail ring is framed in metallic lacework Contrasting green gold flowers whimsically play peek-a-boo amidst the pierced filigree band. Details: Vintage. Circa 1930. Trademark M-M-M. 14k white gold. Rectangular cut amethyst; 5.11 carats.
Antique Emerald Ring with Scalloped Design
Full cut diamonds encircle a trio of emeralds in this antique ring. In this winter ice versus spring verdant duel, the springtime green of the oval and pear-shaped emeralds ultimately wins out. The 14 yellow gold band of this antique ring has a scalloped trimmed top and offers metallic contrast to the emeralds and diamonds. Details: 14k yellow gold. Full cut diamonds; 0.66 carats. Oval and pear emeralds; 0.85 carats. Antique, Circa 1930 or later.
Antique Edwardian Aquamarine Cocktail Ring
This smashing antique aquamarine cocktail ring is for the woman who likes rings that make a dramatic statement on her finger. This smashing antique aquamarine cocktail ring is for the woman who likes rings that make a dramatic statement on her finger. The focal point greenish blue marquise cut aquamarine weighs 5.10 carats. The 14 yellow gold band that clutches the aquamarine is highlighted with scalloped wings at the shoulders and fancy open scrollwork around the bezel. Circa 1920.
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A History of Antique Rings in the Art World (continued from above)
During the Renaissance, women wore rings on all the fingers of their hands, sometimes with more than one stacked on the same finger. These antique rings were often arranged both above and below the joints with skin peeking out in between. Antique rings from the Renaissance period of history had some common traits: 1) Typically they featured gems in their settings; 2) Ornamentation was a key hallmark; and 3) The bezels of these rings harbored secret compartments to stow perfumed scents that masked body odor.
Antique engagement rings from the Renaissance era are captured in painted portraits of Henry VIII's third and fourth wives, Jane Seymour and Anne Cleves, both of whom are wearing multiple rings on their hands. The king, however, wasn't the only one immortalizing antique rings in tribute to his wives.
Artist Dominique Ingres used his creative talents to capture his own second wife, Delphine Ramel. Deep in thought, her hand propped under her chin and her pointer finger pointing up to her temple, Delphine's curled pinkie lights up the middle of the canvas with two antique rings, a gold band that appears to be set with a round ruby encircled by diamonds. A darker band, perhaps onyx, rests atop it with a round diamond shimmering from its center.
Perhaps the most famous early artistic rendering of antique rings can be found in a painting titled "Portrait of a Lady" by Rogier van der Weyden, which hangs in Washington, D.C.'s National Gallery of Art. A 15th century Flemish painter, van der Weyden chose an oil on oak medium for "Portrait of a Lady," a choice which rendered a sharp contrast in darkness and light.
More recently, "The Engagement Ring," an oil painting by British artist John Shirley Fox, features a bonneted, curly-haired woman gazing longingly at the ring on her left hand as she toys with it. Given the painting's time period (the late 1800s), the antique ring is most likely an example from the Victorian jewelry period, in particular the Aesthetic period. The antique ring that is the focus of the art appears to be banded in gold with two blue stones, aquamarines or perhaps blue sapphires, set side by side.
Indeed, gold dominated the Victorian jewelry era thanks to the Industrial Revolution, which allowed it to be used more cost-effectively as a medium and, in turn, to be more readily purchased by the emerging middle class. Engagement rings (like those found in Fox's painting) from the Victorian antique period often had diamonds or amethysts set in them. Diamonds were common, but they were often found in conjunction with other gemstones as well, like pearls, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.