Many couples in Ireland have started to look at antique engagement rings as an alternative over their modern counterparts. Not only are they looking for a piece that has a long history and interesting story attached to it, but they are also looking for a ring that has been produced using older techniques not really found in the modern world.
What is an Antique Engagement Ring?
Generally speaking, an antique engagement ring is one that is at least one hundred years old and it is important that you do not confuse it with a vintage engagement ring (30 - 100 years old). Some jewellers may consider rings that are 50 years or more as antique, but a lot will not consider a ring from the mid-late 20th century as antique, but rather vintage.
The Most Sought-After Eras and Designs
The most sought-after periods that people look to buy an antique ring from are the Victorian and Georgian era's, though many Irish buyers are also on the lookout for rings from the Edwardian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco periods.
The Victorian era is considered as the period of rule under Queen Victoria of England, from 1837 to 1901. Queen Victoria loved her jewellery and had quite an impact on the popular styles during her reign with many rings featuring intricate carvings or motifs inspired by the various elements of nature - such as floral, vines, and human figures. Diamonds also played an important part in Victorian jewellery, especially after taking into consideration that their availability increased when the diamond mines of South African started producing beautiful gems in the late 19th century.
The Georgian era pre-dates the Victorian era and roughly lasted from 1714 to 1837 during the reign of Kings such as King George I, II, II, IV, and even the relatively short reign of William IV. The vintage rings made from this period were all handmade pieces of art with not any two pieces being 100% identical. The most common materials used include 18 and 22 karat gold, Pinchbeck (a type of brass that resembles gold), and various gems. Diamonds were some of the most popular gems, but they are not as brilliant as modern day diamonds due to the way they were mounted and cut. Techniques were employed by the Georgians to enhance the brilliance, such as using aluminium to reflect light from the mounting, but they hardly ever got as close to the brilliance seen on modern day diamonds.
Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and Edwardian antique engagement rings are also a popular choice for many couples.
- Art Deco rings feature bold geometric styles and often bright and contrasting colours.
- Art Nouveau engagement rings contain more flowing lines and natural themes.
- Edwardian rings tend to be larger and ostentatiously luxurious with flowing lines and styles that feature ribbons, florals, bows, and other curved motifs.
The Pros and Cons of Buying an Antique Engagement Ring?
Antique engagement rings can be very beautiful, but there are a lot of factors to take into consideration such as the condition, the cost, restoration, and your moral feelings. It is important that you do your research and deal with only reputable jewellers and antique dealers - ones who offer a written guarantee and can provide all of the paperwork to back it up.
- Antique rings can be beautiful and ornate. - Antique diamonds can be unique with an interesting provenance. - Exclusivity and uniqueness. - Can become an heirloom. - Often have an interesting history or story to tell. - Can be seen as an investment.
- Antique diamonds may be worth less than what you think (cut using older tools and methods). - You may not be able to always wear the ring due to its condition and your lifestyle. - The age can cause it to become delicate. - Extensive and costly restoration jobs may be required. - Blood diamonds and conflict materials may have been used for its production. - Less of a sparkle or brilliance from the gemstone.
A Better Alternative to Antique Engagement Rings
If you are looking to buy an antique engagement ring purely because of its look or style, then you may benefit from a better alternative. Modern day manufacturing jewellers have all the right tools and expertise to duplicate and improve upon any ring design. They can literally recreate a ring using the latest and greatest of techniques that ensure it will look the same and be stronger and more brilliant than an antique one - furthermore, modern day jewellers use hypo-allergenic alloys and safe-sourced diamonds, gems, and precious metals.
By embracing a modern-day approach, you can get the same, if not better, looking ring at a much lower cost. A ring that will last a lifetime and even become a new family heirloom.