Yesterday’s and Today’s: Platinum Engagement Rings By Era
The evolution of platinum engagement ring design is as fascinating as the metal itself! While overall tastes may gradually change, one thing remains constant: every platinum jewel manages to transcend generations through craft, beauty and endurance when rendered in the hands of a discerning jeweler.
Pairing originals with their modern equivalents, we’ve curated 10 outstanding platinum engagement rings for each of the five major artistic movements: Belle Époque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Retro, and Contemporary. Get ready to shop for the heirloom of your dreams and have newfound knowledge to be able to quiz your friends!
La Belle Époque, French for “The Beautiful Era,” dates roughly from 1870 to 1915 and was characterized by peace and prosperity, technological innovation, a celebration of the arts, and a feeling of optimism. This cultural euphoria was the direct result of several gloomy affairs—the end of the Franco-Prussian war, the close of the Panic of 1873 in the United States, and the decline of the long period of mourning towards the latter part of Queen Victoria’s reign in England.
Fashions shifted from restricting to diaphanous, colors from dreary to cheerful, and jewels from cumbersome to enchanting. Because smithing techniques and equipment experienced a surge of improvement, jewelers now knew how to handle the most alluring, densest element they’ve long desired to forge. As the 20th century dawned platinum became the metal of choice: its unparalleled strength meant that gemstones—secure in the most minimal of settings—seemed as if afloat by magic, and its eternally white hue matched the brightness felt all around the world.
Berganza’s double-diamond ring, shown here to the left, is a silhouette called “toi et moi” or “you and me” in French. Made around 1910 to 1915, the platinum use is both highly considered and purposely placed to look similar to delicate lacework (like that found on a bridal veil).
Toi et moi rings are still hugely popular and one of the most requested engagement shapes to symbolize two lives becoming one. David Walter has imbued delightful originality in his version by changing gemstone orientation and adding the boldness of color alongside undeniable romance.
Art Nouveau is actually a subset of the Belle Époque period lasting from approximately 1890 to 1910. Meaning “New Art” in French, elements from this style are quite distinctive; artwork, architecture, and jewels are readily recognized despite the movement lasting a mere two decades.
Like Belle Époque, Art Nouveau exemplified feelings of joy and exhilaration. However, what sets it apart as a decorative phenomenon are undercurrents of liberation and organic exploration. Flowers, vines, dragonflies and feathers are recurring themes, as well as the human form. The whiplash motif is likely the most pronounced ornamental characteristic.
Case in point: Bentley & Skinner’s mesmerizing natural pearl, garnet and diamond ring. Circa 1900, there is evident flow throughout the piece—not just in the billowing metalwork but also in the choice of gemstones (silky, neutral sheen of the pearl juxtaposed with the crisp vibrancy of garnets) and the tiered effect of their placement. Jewelers took tentative steps to incorporate platinum by first utilizing its lack of color to enhance the sparkle of diamonds; completed pieces during this time were often also constructed with gold.
Taking what we now know about the permanence of platinum, Trumpet and Horn’s Tiara ring unifies the same lifelike profile with unmatched durability. The whiteness of the metal continues to be an important feature, particularly for those who prefer having their diamonds and colored gemstones display truthfully beyond compare.
By the 1920s, Art Deco was the predominant style of the day. Stark, geometric and sometimes contradictory, Arts Décoratifs design was propelled by an overwhelming desire to be modern—to exist not in the now, but rather in some tantalizing point between discernable and mystifying. Interest in the Orient reached a fever pitch and that meant an influx of homages to Ancient Egyptian, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese art. Flora and fauna were still celebrated ideas, though executed in courageous lines and sensational colors that were blunt in their dynamism. Rare materials and exquisite craftsmanship were especially coveted… platinum’s Platinum Age had begun!
Jewelers of the era had become familiar to working with platinum and were fusing all its qualities—scarceness, durability, strength, and lasting white color—with one of the most elusive: engineering. In other words, platinum began to be presented as a nonpareil; the best of the best in terms of natural refinement, exclusivity, and innovation.
A prime example of this coalescence is S.J. Phillips’ emerald and diamond cluster ring. Not only are the diamonds exceptional and the platinum finely rendered, but take a closer look at the shank: the row of circular brilliants, thanks to platinum’s remarkable ability not to wear thinner over time, is actually articulated! How brilliant an achievement, adding movement to objects that were once so stagnant… and to fully complete a jewel so that the front is as enchanting as the back!
A 21st century champion who happened upon this Deco blueprint knew not to mess with perfection, so a strikingly similar ring was created 50 years later with a diamond instead of an emerald center. Visit TMW Jewels Co. for an engagement ring worthy of your legendary love.
All things Retro emerged around the 1950s. While clothing, furniture, and even automobiles are distinguishable, it is one of the most difficult eras to solidly define. Deriving from the Latin prefix retro, meaning “backwards” or “in the past,” retro style refers to new things that display historical characteristics. But there is a caveat: said history only reaches as far back as early Modernism (and not, say, the neoclassical movement).
Beladora has wonderfully magnified the nebulous concept of Retro within the realm of jewelry, noting that “[designs] were largely influenced by the changes accompanying World War II [and] reflect a infusion of futuristic vision with elements inspired by preceding periods, encompassing a variety of gemstones, shapes, and materials.”
Sometimes this meant that Retro jewels directly adopted older motifs, like Belle Époque lace and Art Deco symmetry, only to finish them on a much larger scale. Other times this meant rarity reigned supreme—platinum was declared a strategic metal for wartime use so any platinum jewel made during this period was exceptionally important and extraordinarily coveted. Signed MAUBOUSSIN, Berganza’s diamond cluster ring takes the classic solitaire mount and adds a certain je ne sais quoi that is the hallmark of both fine platinumwork and French sensibilities.
Amy Burton has revived the same bygone flair in her Cassiopeia ring; old-world gravitas meets new-world revelation…. homage and anticipation captured in diamonds and platinum!
Contemporary platinum jewels, created in the present day, run the gamut from dainty to daring. Jewelers have expanded the glories of our favorite element yet again by paring 20th century examinations of strength, rarity, durability, lasting whiteness, and engineering with the newest member of the quality family: imagination.
Love the beautiful benefits of platinum but need to ramp up the drama? Eva Fehren’s blackened platinum to the rescue! Desire a sculptural aspect to your jewelry, something willfully breathtaking? Take note of Geoffrey Good’s Zanzibar ring! It rotates, it sparkles, it is two rings in one (and two pendants, too!)—Jillian Abboud’s swivel signets are a refreshing update on what is likely the most revered form of finger adornment.
Unlike other jewelry-making counterparts, platinum stands in a class of its own because it holds all gemstones securely and endures in practically perfect condition for generations regardless of how little or how much is used. If you can dream it, platinum can do it!
So what’s next in the world of precious platinum? We can’t wait to find out! Join us as we discover the best of all that is fine and fascinating: #BePlatinum