There’s something inherently romantic about the look of vintage jewellery. Maybe it’s the association with all those gorgeously classic movies like Sabrina and Breakfast at Tiffanies. It might be the delicacy and intricacy of the designs. Or maybe it’s the thought of the stories that each piece carries and has seen. Because jewellery plays such an important part in many people’s stories, and the engagement ring is probably the most important of all. But what if you want that beautiful vintage aesthetic to tell the story of your relationship, without having the weight of someone else’s history to carry? That is when you design your own.
Creating your own bespoke vintage inspired engagement ring is the only way to ensure that you get the design aesthetic that you really want. Whether you’re inspired by the Art Deco movement, Hollywood chic, or individual designers like Cartier or Fabergé, you can take the elements that most appeal to you and incorporate them into an engagement ring that is truly unique. Ad truly yours. And it’s easier than you might think.
What you need to know about creating your own bespoke vintage engagement ring
What is vintage jewellery?
The term vintage can be applied to any piece of jewellery that is more than 20 years old, but less than 150. If a piece is more than 150 years old it is technically classified antique… but few people acknowledge this, so we won’t hold it against you!
What is a bespoke vintage inspired engagement ring?
A bespoke vintage inspired engagement ring is a ring designed by you using elements of vintage jewellery. You might go wholesale and simply wish to replicate an entire ring that already exists. Or, you can take bits of vintage – or antique – design, such as filigree cuts or milgrain detailing, and integrate them into a ring that is entirely of your making.
At Durham Rose, we use a CAD system, which allows you to be fully involved in the design of your ring. You don’t just have to tell us your thoughts and hope for the best, but you can see your design coming together on screen, and change elements accordingly.
What are the features of vintage rings?
Every era has its own style of jewellery. One of the best things about designing your own is that you can take the aspects of your chosen era – or eras – that you like and leave the other parts behind. So, what characterises each era?
The Georgian era is known for its elegance. Think the society of Jane Austen novels, fabulous architecture and outstanding craftmanship. The engagement rings of this period were usually 22ct or 18ct gold. Cluster designs were favoured, along with coloured gemstones. So, you might have black onyx, rubies or sapphires alongside your diamonds.
The Victorian period is slightly more difficult to classify and is more easily split into three. It began with excitement, which for rings meant large, lustrous stones set in ostentatious designs. Rose cut diamonds became really popular, as did more unusual materials, such as ivory and tortoise shell.
Fashion has traditionally been led by royalty – and we still see it to some degree today, with the mimicking of the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex. So, as Queen Victoria slipped into mourning for Prince Albert and her choices changed to more sombre styles, so the jewellery of the mid-Victorian era followed suit. Smaller, darker gemstones, such as jet, black onyx, black glass, and opal became the fashion for engagement rings. Rose gold first became popular in this era too.
In the late Victorian era things started to regain their shine. Platinum became popular, while more intricate bands and clusters of opulent gems once again became the fashion. More elaborate patterns also started appearing, which were picked up and enhanced in the Art Nouveaux period.
Art Nouveaux (1890-1910)
Overlapping the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, Art Nouveaux jewellery can be quite easily mistaken for either, with its clusters and halo set stones and the way that it favours white metals. But what gives it its main character is the focus on nature. Flowers, leaves, twining vines and fern fronds creatively and symmetrically placed make the engagement rings of this style beautifully unique. It’s a style that also really lends itself to wedding bands – as pictured above.
Edwardian rings illustrate all the intricacy of the Art Nouveau style, but lean more towards filigree, with an abundance of stones. New diamond cuts appeared at this time too, thanks to advancing technology. The most notable of these was the baguette cut, but trapeze and triangular cuts were also popular.
Art Deco (1915-1935)
Ah, Art Deco. It’s a style that everyone recognises and almost everyone loves. For very good reason. Distinguishable by its milgrain detailing, geometric shapes and Asscher cut stones – not just diamonds, but all the most vibrant and colourful gems – Art Deco speaks of nothing so much as elegance. And it’s for that reason that it has remained unerringly popular.
What are the benefits in designing your own vintage-inspired engagement ring?
The primary benefit of designing your own vintage or antique ring is that it’s yours. It’s utterly unique. No one else has ever owned a ring exactly like yours. It has all the elements you could wish for – the right stones, the right metal/s, the right composition. There are is nothing in the ring that you don’t wish to be there. And you can add in personal touches – a cat motif, a mathematical symbol, a flower that means something just to you as a couple – that would otherwise be impossible to find.
However, there’s a secondary benefit in the integrity of the ring. Jewellery making techniques have significantly developed through the centuries. So, while an original antique Georgian ring might be breathtakingly beautiful, it won’t have been made to withstand the wear and tear of modern life. No Georgian lady whose engagement ring has stood the test of the last 200 years would have done much with her hands beyond embroidery.
Your bespoke vintage engagement ring
At Durham Rose, we specialise in making your rings, your way. We can easily and authentically replicate any style. If you want us to. But that’s not really the point. Because our job is to give you exactly what you want. And the thing is, if you’re having a vintage inspired engagement ring created just for you, the rules of the styles and the ages don’t count. If you like Art Deco but would prefer to tone down the milgrain, or love the Georgian look but would also like to include a little filigree, you can. It’s not about knowing what should be done. But rather about knowing what can be done. And with vintage inspired bespoke engagement rings, we can do almost anything.
If you want to start your future history with a vintage inspired engagement ring, contact Durham Rose to arrange your design consultation today.