What Influences The Price Of Antique Engagement Rings?

Author David Millette
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Date Mar 9, 2015

The perfect engagement ring reflects the personality of the woman who wears it. For some, modern ring designs just don't form the same connection as an antique engagement ring.

Part of the charm of an antique engagement ring is the back story of each piece. Many different time periods, countries, and trends throughout history are represented in each unique design. No two rings are exactly the same, so the ring's story is distinct.

A ring's past can further build the connection you have with a piece, but it can also have a large impact on its price. If you think that an antique ring could be right for you, take a look at these five factors that will significantly affect the price of these rings:

Is It In Original Condition?

Like most antiques, a ring is the most valuable when it's in original condition. Whether it be replacing a stone, or fixing a broken band, every alteration that is made on the ring will detract from its value.

To an untrained eye, it's very difficult to tell if a ring is in original condition or if it has been altered. When you are looking at a ring, be sure to examine the back and shoulders, as these are common areas to find signs of alterations. If the ring has had stones replaced or the band broke at one point in the ring's life, it will show in these two areas respectively. If you can't tell if a ring has been altered, a jeweler who is trained in jewelry appraisal will be able to do that for you.

Does It Have Hallmarks?

Hallmark

When shopping for any ring, regardless of if it's antique or not, you should always look for the presence of hallmarks. Hallmarks are the small stamps which can be found on the inside of the band. They are there to give you important information about the ring, such as the type of metal the setting is made of, the country that it was made in, the time period it was made in, and even the jeweler who made it.

Today, almost every ring will have hallmarks, but this isn't always the case in antique engagement rings. If you are interested in a ring and notice that it has hallmarks, research what they mean. Finding out that the ring was made by a prestigious jeweler can add a lot of value to a piece.

As a point of caution, there is no universal list of hallmarks. Every country is free to determine their own, and as a result, it can be very difficult to decode the stamps. If you want to take the work out of your shopping process, we recommend that you meet with a jeweler who is trained in translating hallmarks.

What Time Period Is It From?

Art deco ring Edwardian ring

Art Deco Ring (Left) Edwardian Ring (Right)

Price is determined by demand, and when it comes to antique rings, there are certain time periods that are very popular in today's market. We find that rings from the two jewelry periods Art Deco and Edwardian hold the highest value.

Made from the early 1900's until the late 1930's, these styles aren't the oldest rings on the market. That being said, people love the geometric-industrial style of Art Deco and the light and airy designs of Edwardian jewelry. This increases the demand for the limited amount of rings made in these time periods, thus increasing their value.

Does It Have Filigree & What Condition Is It In?

Filigree

The filigree of a ring refers to the intricate designs on the band that are so synonymous with antique engagement rings. The filigree is important as it gives the ring its individuality, but it can also tell you about how the ring was made.

If you look closely at the filigree and notice that the design is uneven or imperfect, then you know these designs were hand carved and the ring was hand made. This generally makes the ring more valuable, as it required many more labor hours to make.

If the filigree seems perfectly designed or symmetrical, it was most likely cast in a mold which can make it less valuable than a hand made ring.

What Is The Diamond's Cut?

In today's wedding rings, the most popular diamond cut is the round brilliant diamond. A lot of research and technology has been put into developing this cut to be as brilliant as possible, but there was once a time when the round brilliant didn't exist.

The oldest diamond cut that you will find in an antique ring is the "mine cut" diamond. As you might be able to guess from the name, these were cut at the mine after being dug up. The mines that the diamonds were cut in had no light except for the lamps that miners brought down with them. As a result, these diamonds were cut to be the most brilliant under low lighting.

During the time of mine cut diamonds, the cutting tools weren't as precise as the ones in use today. When using these machines, cutters weren't able to cut the diamonds to a fine point like we see now. Instead they were left with a flat surface on the bottom of the stone, called a culet. This culet can be seen when viewing the top of the stone and almost looks like a hole in the middle of the diamond. Having a mine cut stone isn't for everyone, as they are less brilliant than their modern cut counterparts. However, having an original stone increases the value of the ring.

Following the mine cut came the "European cut" diamond. This is very similar to the round brilliant, but has less brilliance. Some people prefer the old look of a European cut in an antique ring, and just like the mine cut, if it is original to the ring it will add value.

Mine Cut DiamondEuropean Cut Diamond

Mine Cut (Left) European Cut (Right)

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