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Something Old, Something New: Vintage Engagement Ring Trends

During the 2019 jewelry market week, homages to the past could be spotted among a majority of new platinum engagement ring designs. Five vintage inspired trends are definitely having a moment, so I asked antique jewelry guru Grace Lavarro of Jewels by Grace for some input on the popularity of these “new” trends.

Kirk Kara
Trend 1: Rose Cut Centers

About the trend: Engagement rings with preset rose cut diamond centers glow in such a unique way making them the strongest trend we witnessed this season. The shape of a rose cut diamond lends itself to appearing larger than a brilliant cut diamond of similar carat weight, and when you set one in platinum the natural whiteness of the metal emphasizes their sparkle and color. A typical engagement ring purchasing process involves two-steps where the soon-to-be engaged selects a setting and then a stone, which will then be combined. Preset engagement rings, however, streamline the search process because you’re buying the complete piece and the buyer will know the ring’s price right away.

When were rose cut diamonds first created? Why are we seeing a Renaissance of sorts? Any tips on how to purchase?

Grace’s Reply: Rose cuts are amongst the first diamonds to have been cut – they first appeared in the 16th century. They are pretty special there is really nothing similar to them in terms of their faceting and make. They are romantic and also have a larger face up in terms of diameter, so they also offer up ample “finger coverage” as well. Not to mention, modern cut rose cuts also come in a vast variety of shapes and colors, offering designers and makers limitless design options. As each one is unique, be sure that you are buying that is lively – meaning, you can see the light glimmer across its top, catching light and colors softly. It should not look flat and lifeless. You ought to be able to also see the faceting across the top clearly and distinctly (this is what we refer to as “crisp” faceting).

Jewels By Grace
Trend 2: Art Deco

About the trend: The Art deco jewelry trend has really never gone away! Art Deco details and proportions are timeless and beautiful which are two adjectives easily associated with sought after qualities of an engagement ring.

What are the most popular Art Deco details found in platinum engagement ring designs? Why is this period’s style such a fit for bridal jewelry?

Grace’s Reply: Art deco is a leading trend in the bridal market. Not only is the style timeless, but its strong, geometric lines remain current and contemporary in feel, despite still having some intricate design details. Art deco rings often incorporate custom cut gemstones for that pop of color, and a really distinct aesthetic that is unique to the era, mostly clean, linear lines and angles.

Jewels By Grace (left) Ashley Zhang (right)
Trend 3: Victorian Elements

About the trend: We are seeing a growing number of lovely nature inspired platinum engagement rings reminiscent of the Victorian era, whimsical with a modern twist. The Victorian collet, a metal collar which cradles the center stone, is also making a come-back.

What are the popular Victorian elements seen in today’s engagement rings? Who is the woman that should consider a genuine Victorian antique and the woman who should consider a new platinum replica?

Grace’s Reply: Victorian jewels are often steeped in Popular Victorian elements seen in today’s modern engagement rings includes floral and nature inspired motifs (crescent moons, flowers, birds, etc), more intricate and highly styled shoulder designs and shank. The current popularity of collet settings also attributed to the current resurgence in popularity of the Victorian and Georgian periods in jewels. The woman who is attracted to Victorian-era jewels as her engagement ring should be accepting that these rings are over 150 years-old and would show some signs of being extremely loved by many, many brides previously, that they are beautiful in their slightly wonky, less than perfect settings, and should be ready to be the next caretakers of what is literally a piece of history on their fingers. These are women who choose to stand out, and are looking for a deeper, more sentimental choice. If one is athletic or works a lot with their hands, I suggest going with a new platinum setting. Some antique and vintage pieces can be fragile, and require some care in wearing. Having said all that, I still find my oldest platinum pieces to be the ones to survive being worn and tremendously loved beautifully.

Jewels by Grace
Trend 4: Ballerina Rings

About the trend: Diamond baguette halos in the shape of tutu skirts and set in platinum are stealing the thunder of the traditional halo design. Ballerina engagement ring designs really make a statement.

Ballerina rings were popular in the 80s, but when were they created? We are also seeing elaborate diamond ring jackets/guards or twin bands to emulate the look, while allowing for more ways to wear an engagement ring. What are your thoughts on this latest trend?

Grace’s Reply: Ballerina rings first came to the market in the 1950s, and were popular though the 1960s (think “Mad Men!). They were also briefly popular in the 1980s, but beginning to enjoy resurgence these days as the market in general seems to love almost everything with mid-century roots. I attribute the popularity of ballerina rings and rings with jackets to the decades’ long romance that the market has had with halo rings. I feel that the market has been saturated with halos of all shapes, sizes, styles, and gemstones that it is ready for something fresh. The ballerina and ring guard styles give the wearers that added visual oomph which some women may want without it being a more common halo style.

A Brandt + Son
Trend 5. Flush Settings (formally known as Gypsy rings)

About the trend: Thicker bands with one to three stones deeply embedded in the metal are so beautiful, especially if you love the beauty of metal as much as the magic of gemstones. These rings are perfect for women who don’t want a traditional engagement ring and might be considering just a diamond band. It’s an in-between option that’s laid-back but still looks like an engagement ring.

What is the jewelry history of flush set diamond rings? What kind of wedding band would work with one?

Grace’s Reply: These rings are originally from the Victorian, and were given as friendship tokens. Unlike most Victorian rings which are intricately styled, they are simple, sleek, and pretty chic, as far as I am concerned. It’s the perfect choice for those looking for something more understated, and less “engagement ring” looking. Any band would sit perfectly with this type of engagement ring. I would suggest something in a contrasting metal for a little visual interest!

The Wrap Up

In conclusion, for someone looking to purchase a contemporary design with vintage accents mirroring any of these trends, which metal for the setting would you recommend?

Grace’s Reply: I always advise clients who ask me for metal recommendations for contemporary settings to go with platinum. I always tell them it’s the classic and timeless choice, and will never be out of style… no matter what the current trends might be.

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Severine Ferrari is the founder of Engagement 101, the first multi-media platform dedicated to couples planning their engagement. Though she resides in New York, her native French sense of style and romance still strongly influences her editorial vision and voice.

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