7 Questions You Need To Ask Before Buying A Vintage Engagement Ring

Author Cristina LaPenna
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Date Aug 9, 2015

Questions You Need To Ask Before Buring A Vintage Engagement RingRecently, purchasing a vintage or antique diamond engagement ring has become a popular trend. Whether someone chooses an antique ring because they love the history that comes with it, because they are more green or affordable, or for the fine hand-done filigree details that are no longer seen in modern settings, all vintage diamond rings have an aura of timeless romance that many women are searching for high and low.

We understand that buying a diamond engagement ring can be overwhelming, but buying a vintage engagement ring is a completely different experience - And it sometimes can be even more nerve-wrecking than buying a completely new ring!

There is nothing like the feeling of finding the perfect one-of-a-kind engagement ring for your significant other. To help you avoid any doubts you might have about selecting an antique ring, we have created a list of the most important questions that you should ask before buying any vintage engagement ring:

1. “Is This Engagement Ring Vintage or Vintage Style?”

This should be the first question you ask about engagement rings that are labeled as vintage. Although to the average consumer they may look the same, vintage engagement rings are authentic and from a previous era, whereas vintage style engagement rings are modern rings that are inspired by vintage details, replicas, or vintage rings that have had to have parts replaced. Be aware - Just because a diamond engagement ring is listed as vintage and is a high price, does not mean that it is necessarily an antique! Make sure that when you are buying a ring to read the fine print to determine which of the two categories it is.

Can you tell which of the two rings below is vintage and which is vintage style?

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Answer: The ring on the left is a true Vintage Solitaire Engagement Ring, while the ring on the right is a Vintage Style Engagement Ring!

2. “What Time Period Is This Ring From?”

Once it is confirmed that yes, the engagement ring that you are looking at is indeed vintage, you should then ask what era the ring was made. Each jewelry period has its own distinct, unique style and finding out when the ring is from is key in determining the method by which the jewelry was made. If you are looking for an engagement ring that is delicate, incredibly feminine and romantic, then look for a piece from the Edwardian era. If you want to present your bride-to-be with a more unique design, look for an engagement ring from the Art Deco era.

Can you tell what period the two rings are from?

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Answer: The ring on the left is an Edwardian 18K White Gold Diamond Ring, while the ring on the right is an Art Deco Platinum Diamond Ring!

3. “What Is The Stone Size and Quality?”

A large majority of the diamonds that you see set in antique engagement rings are not evaluated in terms of the 4 C’s that new, modern diamonds and pre-set rings are. This is because the technology used to determine the grades of each and even the grading systems did not exist when most vintage engagement rings were made. Instead, we recommend that you focus on the ring as a whole. Ask about the carat weight of the diamond in order to help determine price, but to really determine if the diamond is right for you, look at it under different lighting, next to other diamonds, and other vintage rings to see if there are any noticeable flaws.

4. “How Was This Diamond Cut?”

While whoever is selling you your vintage engagement ring might not be able to tell you about the original owner of the ring or what specific momentous events the ring has seen, they will be able to tell you a little bit about the history of the diamond based on how it was cut. There are three distinct cuts of vintage engagement rings:

  • Candlelight or Mine Cut Diamonds - In the days before the electric light, a diamond might have actually been cut in the mine where it was discovered, under antique light sources. These old cut diamonds are also known as “candlelight diamonds” because they often look their best by candle light, and are known for their soft romantic glow.

  • European Cut Diamonds – These evolved from the mine cut. The diamonds cut this way have a very small table, a heavy crown, and great overall depth. Like the modern round brilliant diamonds of today, the old European diamonds have a beautiful sparkle.

  • Modern Ideal Cut Diamonds - Ideal cut is the term originally created in 1919 to describe a round cut diamond with very specific proportions. The ideal cut diamond is designed for the best possible balance of brilliance and light dispersion. Today’s round brilliant cut is the most popular of the many diamond shapes used today.

5. “How Durable Is This Ring?”

Most vintage engagement rings were made by hand and range from extremely fragile to very sturdy. Because they are sometimes hundreds of years old, often times there are small cracks or chips in the stones or on the ring itself. It is important to ask about durability, flaws, and to make sure that the prongs on the ring are sturdy and do not to be replaced. Many people worry whether or not they will be able to last, so you should also consider your lifestyle as well. A person who uses their hands constantly and never takes their ring off for anything probably shouldn’t pick an antique engagement ring covered in thin, delicate filigree. But, if you rarely ever wear your engagement ring, you may be able to get away with the more delicate vintage rings.

6. “Can This Ring Be Sized?”

Before you fall in love with a ring, make sure to find out the size of the ring, and if it is not your exact size, if the ring is able to be sized or not! Most rings can be sized either up two sizes or down two sizes, and usually not any more without it being very expensive or completely altering the appearance of the ring. If there is intricate detailing around the ring or extremely thin, fine points, it may not be able to be sized at all. Make sure to ask this question before purchasing your engagement ring to make sure you are not stuck with an engagement ring that will never be worn.

7. “What Is Your Return Policy?”

One of the most common ways people search for the perfect vintage ring today is online. The biggest benefit to this is you are able to view many antique engagement rings without having to go out of your way and travel halfway across the world to do so. But, online shopping for an item as big of an investment as an engagement ring can be risky if you are not able to physically see it before you purchase it. Make sure to check if you are able to return the ring for your full amount paid, just in case if what you received it is not what it looked like in the picture or what you expected it to be.

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