Antique wedding rings and antique style wedding rings can be very different types of jewelry, so shop with care and make sure that you know whether you are buying an antique ring or a replica (antique style). An antique wedding ring is generally classified as any ring over fifty years old, worn by someone previously or which is still in its original setting. An antique style wedding ring on the other hand is a newly-made ring designed to mimic the style of rings from a specific period. An 'estate' ring refers to a ring previously owned, whereas a 'vintage' ring refers to a ring from a particular era (e.g. Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco).
Antique wedding rings or antique style wedding rings may be very ornate and beautiful, and can particularly suit a couple with more traditional, romantic tastes. Not only can antique wedding rings bring the romance of yesteryear to a modern wedding, they can become instant heirlooms and family treasures. As some antique rings are highly intricate, buying a second-hand (pre-loved) antique wedding ring can be more cost saving than having a jeweler re-produce the look.
Buying Antique Wedding Rings
If you are interested in buying an antique wedding ring or wedding rings, then there are few things to bear in mind:
- Buy your ring from a reputable dealer with a long-standing and solid reputation. If you are buying online, it is almost impossible to really check the credentials of the vendor, but you can still make sure that you are buying certified stones and the terms and conditions are comprehensive.
- Ensure that the jeweler or online jeweler presents a sound gemmological knowledge and doesn't bamboozle you with jargon.
- Beware of replicas and make sure that your antique wedding ring is an original setting.
- If you are able to view the underside of the ring, it should look as beautiful as the top - generally speaking the craftmanship on antique wedding rings is of extremely high quality.
- Inspect the overall condition of the ring to ensure that the setting of any stones is solid and secure.
- Check that the ring's shank (the part that goes round the finger) is not worn.
- Ensure that your vendor has provided a full report and description of the ring.
Styles of Antique Jewelry and Wedding Rings
Georgian Style (1714 - 1830)
The jewlery from this era, (1714 to 1830) was made during the reign of the four King Georges in Great Britain. It is highly collectable and pieces are becoming harder to find. All handmade, the jewlery is very romantic, symbolic and sentimental. Elaborate floral motifs and designs of nature including birds, insects and feathers were typical. The type of metal was secondary in importance to the diamonds and gemstones with which they were encrusted.
Victorian Style (1837 - 1900)
Queen Victoria had a huge influence on jewelry styles throughout her long reign and her jewels were copied by the Court and in society. Victoria style jewelry incorporated:
- Pieces influenced by nature, the Renaissance, the Middle Ages and Greek mythology
- Fantasy and originality in pieces adorned with figures, angels and heraldic motifs
- Flowers, branches, leaves, tendrils, grapes and berries - 'showers' of diamonds and seed pearls
- Motifs of snakes and serpents - particularly popular in the 1840s
- Diamonds, carbuncles and turquoises
- Cameos, coral, seed pearl and Scottish silver
- Favorite rings of the era included a half-pearl, half-hoop ring, cluster rings (flower heads) and gold ring with strap and buckle design.
Edwardian Style (1901 - 1914)
At the end of Victoria's reign, there was a trend for much simpler, less ornate jewelry as worn by the women of the Aesthetic Movement. However, by Edward's reign the nation was influenced by his Queen, Alexandra, who favored more artistically crafted pieces made with diamonds, emeralds and rubies. Milgrain settings were introduced to maximise the beauty of diamonds in particular. The French art nouveau style (1895 - 1910) introduced an imaginative and free approach to nature including the female form, resulting in sensual design.
Art Deco Style (1920 - 1935)
As women favored a more masculine look, jewelry was dominated by simple, geometric and linear looks, bold colours and less decoration. They were also influenced with allusion to Egyptian, Asian and Native American cultures.