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Vintage Engagement Rings Make History—Again!

What’s Trending in Rings? Choosing a ring is a major decision—you’ll be wearing it for years! You want a ring that expresses your personality, and a newer cut or a ring made from a vintage style can do just that. What’s trending this year? Here are a few from Brides:

  1. Unique halos: the row of gemstones around your central stone is one way to make your ring stand out. Halos could be from intricate, vintage-inspired designs or newer takes. Actor Olivia Wilde’s engagement ring features a round diamond with an emerald halo.

  2. Colored accents: instead of last year’s single colored stone, 2017 brings colored accent stones, for example, an emerald and a diamond or a halo of pink diamonds.

  3. Edwardian rings: the distinctive charm of this time can be yours with either a handmade antique or vintage-inspired-design ring. John Krasinski proposed to Emily Blunt in 2008 with a stunning Edwardian-inspired ring.

  4. Black diamonds: their edgier look is popular with non-traditional brides, and they represent certainty and passion.

  5. Vintage or vintage-inspired rings: whether a family heirloom or a newly designed ring made with vintage design in mind, these rings are in again.

Vintage Rings through the Decades Edwardian (Early Twentieth Century) Back in the early 1900s, the practice of a bride-to-be receiving an engagement ring became a more common practice. This was in part due to more people being able to afford it, with more people now living in the middle class as a result of the industrial revolution. The gemstone of choice for Edwardian engagement rings was diamonds, set in ornate, lacy, feminine platinum settings still under much of the influence of the romantic art nouveau period.

Roaring Twenties When World War I began in 1914, hard times brought on by the war also marked the end of the fashions and trends of the Edwardian era. Women found more independence as men went to war. American women won the right to vote in 1920, which lead to the furthering of their own independence and liberation. When the war ended, the “Roaring 20’s” piloted a new attitude and an overall desire to live life to the absolute fullest—engagement rings did not escape this bright new philosophy. Rings were less feminine, more geometric, elongated, reflecting a love for modernism. This is a period of multi-diamond, multi-stone designs that stretch across the finger in glittering bursts of sparkle and color. The main gemstone remained diamond but was often accented by other stones such as sapphires, rubies, and emeralds—all set in a white gold or platinum settings. Scarlett Johansson’s engagement ring is in an Art Deco style with three rose-cut diamonds,an attitude that was very much reflected in the new jewelry design trends.

In Times of War As World War II ended the glitz and glamour of the Deco period, you would think that the rationing and hardship of another world war would bring the engagement ring to a very modest place. That did not happen. The engagement rings of this period were often large and bold. Feminine curves were back for clothing, fashion, and jewelry. This was a very Dior “new look” revolution. Exaggerated ribbons, bows, and flowers were gilded and heavy. Platinum being scarce due to the war effort, most rings used yellow and rose gold. Those with a smaller budget choose tinier diamond settings flanked by synthetic rubies and sapphires. In 1948, DeBeers started to campaign with their ever famous slogan “Diamonds Are Forever,” solidifying diamond as the prominent stone used in engagement rings.

The trends of 1950s jewelry were similar to that of the 1940s, but they were often executed differently. Designs were now more light and filigreed, as opposed to the solid, high polished look of the 1940s. Engraved finishes and braided rope accents harking back to the romance of the Edwardian period were popular design elements. Platinum once again became the metal of choice used for diamond jewelry. This was a return to “traditionalism.”

From Flower Children to Kennedys While hippies in the 1960s may have simply made a ring out of flowers, many brides were very much inspired by the exploding forces of celebrity culture–the large glamorous rings of Elizabeth Taylor and the emerald and diamond ring of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. This period also saw a shift toward different or fancy shaped diamonds—the rise of the emerald, pear, marquise, and even heart cuts became all the rage. Brides were looking for a traditional-nontraditional way to differentiate themselves from their mothers and grandmothers.

Disco Beat The 1970s had a return to bright sparkling and flashy gold–Sstudio 54 disco beats seemed to find their way on the rings of many brides. Mult-itone rings with fancy and round shapes creating clusters of sparkling disco balls were popular.

Like a Princess The 1980s saw the continuation of fancy shaped centers and gold start to fade out a bit as the round, brilliant cut diamonds returned to center stage, often flanked by baguette cut diamonds in white gold (the classic Tiffany engagement ring). In the 1980s the storybook engagement and wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles set off a trend of sapphire-centered engagement rings, after Diana’s oval sapphire ring. When Prince William proposed to Catherine Middleton in the autumn of 2010, he gave her the ring.

Minimalist Look The 1990s saw the creation of the three-stone ring and the rise of the princess cut (square shaped) diamond all set in white gold. Very classic and straightforward, not a lot of scrollwork or design. This was a minimal period of design and the solitaire continues to reign.

The Millennium: Looking forward and Starting to Look Back The minimal straightforward design continued to march forward in the early 2000s with the start of tiny diamond accents finding their way down the shoulders of the rings and matching wedding bands in white gold. The round brilliant remains number 1, with the princess cut diamond remaining number 2 in popularity.

2010 and beyond–Meet the Halo Tiny sparkling diamonds are surrounding all shapes of center diamonds and sometimes twice and three times over! The halo isn’t new— it’s been a classic since easily the eighteenth century, think of Marie Antoinette and George the III. What has changed is the way technology and industry have allowed for the mining and cutting of tiny or melee diamonds. This in itself has transformed the jewelry industry forever. Designers can now use melee diamond accents in a way that has not been seen before, up and down crowns, on upper galleries, peek-a-boos, micro pave, delicate scrollwork and much more!

Cushion cuts and ovals sparkle as brightly as the round brilliant, and diamonds are not the only center anymore. Meet morganite, aquamarine, sapphire, amethyst, and any color you can imagine. The period of ultimate individualism and personal aesthetics has arrived. White gold, yellow gold, rose gold, platinum are now all in vogue! Hammered, engraved, solid, filigree, minimalist, two-tone and tri-tone are now every day, and individuals look only to themselves for guidance.

Why the Surge in Popularity for Vintage Rings? In our ever-changing fast-paced world there is something many brides are choosing— vintage or antique rings or inspired by vintage rings—because they’re charming and unique. But to have the best of both worlds—an antique ring and a new ring—Teva, the designer at Williams Diamond Center, would love to help craft you a new ring by helping you repurpose a vintage ring and or use design trends and styles from your favorite period to create a beautiful one-of-a-kind new ring. This process of creating and designing from old or vintage styles in a new ring is what 2017+ is all about. Williams Diamond Center also buys and sells estate jewelry, so often there are incredible vintage rings available that are unique and gorgeous at fantastic price points.

By Teva Dekel, ring designer at Williams Diamond Center


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