How Are Vintage Engagement Rings Different From Modern Rings?

Author Lynelle Schmidt
Date Feb 15, 2021

How Are Vintage Engagement Rings Different From Modern Rings?If you are deciding between a vintage or modern engagement ring, there is a lot to consider. There are so many differences between the two types of rings!

Events and what was in style at the time really played a huge part in what are now considered vintage style rings. These rings really do have a different look and feel than modern rings because of things like the metals used, diamond cuts, and center stones.

There is no right or wrong decision when it comes time to pick an engagement ring. Just make sure you understand how and why vintage engagement rings differ from modern rings. Here are 6 different factors to pay attention to when looking at both types of rings:

1. Diamond Cut

One of the most significant differences between vintage diamonds and modern diamonds is how they are cut. A diamond's cut refers to how the "facets" and angles of a diamond work together to reflect light. The way a diamond is cut plays a huge role in the sparkle, brightness, and beauty of a diamond. A well cut diamond is proportional and maximizes the light return of the stone.

Vintage diamonds were cut deeper, so they generally appear smaller than modern diamonds with the same carat weight. Vintage stones were also cut in such a way that they would sparkle even in dim lighting. Many of the most popular vintage diamond cuts, like the old mine cut, were cut for candlelight because there was no electricity at the time. That's why vintage diamonds will have a different type of sparkle to them that feels a little bit warmer.

Three of the most popular vintage diamond cuts that you would find are old mine cuts, old European cuts, and antique cushion cuts. Read about them here.

Today, modern diamonds are cut to be "brilliant" and feature cuts like princess and round brilliant. Modern diamonds are cut in a way that increases their light return as much as possible.

2. Diamond Color Grade

With modern diamonds, a more perfect stone will have a diamond color grade of D, E or F. This is what GIA considers to be a "colorless" stone, which is more desirable. If you go further down the scale, to diamonds with color grades of N-Z, you will start to notice a yellow color in the diamond that doesn't look all that great.

However, vintage diamonds will rarely have color grades that range from D through H (or colorless and near colorless). The reason for this is because there were less diamond mines in operation years ago, so it was harder to find colorless diamonds. And, the majority of the colorless or near colorless stones that were found have since been re-cut into modern cut diamonds for higher profits in the late 70s and 80s. To find a colorless vintage stone would be an extremely rare find because there are so few in existence today.

3. Diamonds vs Other Types of Gemstones

It is much more common to find colored gemstones in vintage engagement rings, like rubies, emeralds and sapphires. On the other hand, most modern engagement rings feature white diamonds as their center stones.

However, this modern interpretation of an engagement ring is slowly changing. It's becoming much more common to find modern engagement rings that feature gemstones or even black or fancy-colored diamonds.

4. Metal Types

It's very traditional and common to find yellow gold as the metal type for a vintage engagement ring. Other popular vintage ring metals include platinum and rose gold.

Modern engagement rings will feature some different choices for the metal used in the ring's band. You can now find white gold as an option for many engagement rings because the hue caters towards contemporary brides who prefer the neutral tones of silver jewelry. The color silver is considered an easier color to fit into any modern wardrobe.

5. Styles

In general, vintage engagement rings usually feature more ornate designs and are more likely to be handcrafted. You'll often find what is called filigree detailing on a vintage ring that has been created by hand. Because of this, each ring is unique and won't be perfectly symmetrical on both sides of the stone. But, many people say that this is what adds to the charm of the ring.

Modern rings, on the other hand, are more likely to be cleaner, sleeker, and more straightforward. Modern engagement rings are often mass produced, so you wouldn't find handcrafted details in each ring. Engagement rings today are more uniform, which many people would prefer.

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