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How To Modernize a Vintage Engagement Ring to Get In With the Old and In With the New

They say everything in fashion comes back around. Judging by the onslaught of low-rise denim and chunky white sneakers we’re seeing on the streets, we can’t disagree. Everything old is new again, and it doesn’t just go to fashion. Jewelry follows suit. And that includes the vintage engagement ring.

While we’re still not sure how we feel about skinny jeans, we are totally in on the resurgence of vintage engagement rings. But we don’t mean actual vintage rings. We mean new engagement rings with vintage details that have a timeless feel. One of the folks on board with modernizing a vintage engagement ring? We’ve got you. Here’s everything you need to know about how to rock a vintage influence with modern appeal.

So What are Vintage Engagement Rings Anyways?

First, let’s ensure we’re all on the same page. We define a vintage engagement ring as a ring dating back to a previous era, typically ranging from the early 1900s to the late 20th century. Like, they are literally old. And we all love thrifting a good find, right? Uniquely designed, meticulously crafted, and historically significant characteristics define these rings. Vintage rings often showcase filigree, engraving, and diverse gemstone cuts of their time. You might see old European or old mine cut diamonds, shining like candlelight next to today’s laser-cut gems.

Finding a vintage engagement ring in good condition can be a challenge. Sure, if you’ve got one passed down through the family, we’re all for it. But most of the time, to get a high-quality ring for your lifetime, you’ll do better purchasing one with vintage influence. Old-school appealed, vintage rings can be outshined by personalized, modern ones.

A vintage engagement ring with Asscher center stone, four baguette diamonds, and pave rounds.
A vintage engagement ring is stunning testament to the enduring power of love but finding high-quality and chic vintage rings can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Are Vintage Engagement Rings Sustainable?

For many couples today, the allure of purchasing a vintage engagement ring or antique diamond lies in their sustainability. You know, because it’s better to reuse than remake, and all. And yes, vintage engagement rings are often considered more sustainable than newly mined or newly manufactured rings. Primarily, because they are made from materials that have already been extracted from the earth.

That said, choosing an antique diamond such as an Old Euro, Old Mine Cut, or Rose Cut and pairing it with a modern setting made from recycled gold is a great way to have your cake and eat it too.

Looking for inspo? Without subjecting you to a snooze-worthy art history class, here’s a crash course in the vintage engagement ring styles, with major nods to a few design eras.

A unique vintage engagement ring with looped claw prongs and a textured band
We can’t get enough of the unique vintage detail in this custom engagement ring. Want to design your own? Take our ring quiz and get started today!
The Deco Bullet, a five stone engagement ring with baguette trapezoid and emerald cut diamonds
Like Gatsby and Daisy, Art Deco and diamonds just make sense.

Art Deco Inspired Engagement Rings

 Art Deco engagement rings, characterized by geometric shapes, bold lines, and intricate detailing, are highly sought after. Think emerald-cut diamonds, baguette side stones, and architectural settings reminiscent of the roaring twenties.

Victorian-Era Vintage Engagement Rings

Victorian-era rings feature romantic and ornate designs, often incorporating intricate filigree work, floral motifs, and colored gemstones such as sapphires, rubies, and pearls.

A side view of an engagement ring with delicate filigree detail
Filigree adds a touch of vintage flair and panache to an otherwise modern-looking ring. We particularly love the look of filigree on a cathedral setting.
Milgrain dots easily draw the eye to the otherwise modern kite set princess cut diamond. Combining two eras in one? We love.

Edwardian Inspired Engagement Rings

Edwardian engagement rings are known for their delicate and feminine designs, featuring intricate lace-like details, milgrain dots, and graceful curves. You’ll see floral details, diamond clusters, intricate halos, and scrollwork in Edwardian-style rings.

Art Nouveau Influenced Engagement Rings

Art Nouveau rings are characterized by flowing lines, organic shapes, and nature-inspired motifs such as flowers, leaves, and vines. These rings often feature pastel gemstones, enamel accents, and whimsical designs that evoke a sense of romance and beauty.

An emerald cut diamond is framed by a cluster of round diamonds
There’s something about the delicate cluster of diamond that boldly frames the emerald cut center stone…like a warm summers rain or morning dew on the grass, it simply takes our breath away.
An emerald cut engagement ring with diamond brick band
Bold sparkle meets unique diamond cuts in a marvelous Mid-century match.

Mid-Century Modern Engagement Rings

Mid-century modern rings from the 1950s and 1960s are also gaining popularity, with their clean lines, bold designs, and emphasis on geometric shapes. Think sleek solitaire settings, unique diamond cuts like the marquise and pear, and innovative use of materials such as platinum and white gold.

Modern Design meet Old School Details

While you can certainly go all in on your favorite vintage era engagement ring, we think there are some little things you can include in an otherwise modern engagement ring to give it just a nod of that age-old flair. Certain diamond cuts, metal details, and overall shapes can give you the look and timeless appeal you’re after. Here are a few of our faves:

Go beyond the basic bezel

While most folks look at a bezel set engagement ring and think there isn’t anything more modern, it’s actually one of the oldest setting types there is. It shows up in plenty of vintage engagement rings from Art Deco graphic beauties to mid-century marvels. It’s a slight nod to the old school while also looking super new. 

We’ve elevated a super basic bezel setting to deliver hard hitting finger coverage in a durable, low profile engagement ring. Because, yes, bezels also offer a bit of extra protection for active lifestyles. And you’ll be pleased to see we’ve crafted it specifically to sit flush with a wedding band, which is rare in a bezel setting that’s usually much more metal-heavy. You can also lean into the Art Deco style with a geometric undergallery or go modern minimalist with a half-bezel setting that’s slim, sleek, and utterly sophisticated.

An Asscher three stone bezel ring with trapezoid side stones
While it reads modern, bezel settings are quite vintage. And when you pair it with the splashy sparkle of step cuts you’ll get a ring that is as timeless as it is vintage-looking.

Delicate milgrain details instantly elevate an emerald cut engagement ring to give it that extra-special something.

Edge your diamond in milgrain

What is milgrain? It’s those little dotted line details you’ll find on super classic jewelry. Usually along the edges of a traditional mens wedding band, or outlining a diamond setting on a vintage womens engagement ring. Milgrain is an instant signal of vintage styling, so make no mistake about it, it’s going to give you all the old school feels. We’ve added it to a bezel setting with a swooping, minimal under gallery to make it a bit more modern and light, but you can also customize nearly any ring style with this delicate detail to suit your own taste.

Double up on prongs to add a vintage detail to your modern engagement ring

There’s nothing more timeless than a prong set engagement ring, with its diamond shining bright, elevated over the finger, minimal metal blocking its sparkle. And we get that most folks wouldn’t want more prongs, but trust us here. There are countless prong styles to choose from, and certain of those can easily lend your engagement ring a vintage feel. A claw prong, which literally looks like a little claw, all smooth and pointed at the end, doubled up, is one of those. 

That’s right, a double claw prong. Which is basically just instead of, say, a four-prong setting, each of those is split into two prongs, so there are eight little prong tips. This is styled with four sets of two, but you can also take this up a notch with eight individual double tipped prongs for intense levels of detail. Modern practicality meets vintage romance in our double claw rose cut diamond engagement ring. It’s a low profile engagement ring featuring a rose cut diamond, delicate double claw prongs, and a thin, comfort fit band that’s as easy to look at as it is to wear.

A cushion cut diamond with double claw prongs
Double the prongs double the fun!
A round rose cut diamond engagement ring
Rose cut diamond engagement rings offer stunning shimmer and vintage appeal

Coming up rose cut diamonds

Speaking of rose cut diamonds, you might be wondering what exactly those are. First off, they’re a vintage-lover’s dream and kind of scream antique engagement ring style. But while there are the ultra sparkly brilliant-cut diamonds, like rounds, ovals, and pears; and the slightly less sparkly emeralds, Asschers, and baguettes; rose cut diamonds come in last place in the sparkle race. Don’t let that scare you.

Instead, rose cut diamonds have a lovely shimmer that begs to be admired up close. They are more sensual than showy. And rose cut diamond engagement rings are super low profile, sitting close to the finger, and don’t work with all setting types. One of the biggest upsides is that all of a rose cut’s carat weight is visible from the top. There’s no wasted carat weight hidden where you can’t see it. And that means it looks extra large on the finger. A half carat rose cut diamond is basically the same diameter as a round brilliant cut diamond, which means you’re getting double the size in finger real estate. And no snagging on your favorite sweaters.

Art Nouveau everything

If you want to add a little Art Nouveau to your look, we love a little undergallery accent. Adding gentle curves and swoops to the gallery bars (visible from the side of your ring) is a beautiful way to keep your ring looking modern while reflecting your personal vintage-loving style. You can step it up with a floral-inspired basket setting, complete with plenty of pave diamond side stones. Or lean into the floral-like diamond clusters with a fairytale inspired engagement ring featuring a generous spread of oh-so-sparkly diamonds for full finger coverage.

A pear cut diamond enagement ring with twist pave band and double claw details
Want to live out your ACOTAR-inspired engagement ring dreams? Consider Art Nouveau twists and floral details.

Making Your Vintage Engagement Rings Come True

Ready to find the vintage ring of your dreams? No matter what look you love, you can make it modern in your own way, stack it with modern wedding bands, or play up the vintage style all the way through. We love helping you make your ring dreams a reality. 

Start by checking out our diamond search where you can view 360-degree images of more than 10,000 diamonds and don’t forget to zoom out (because size can be deceiving), or book a virtual or offline appointment at our showrooms to view certified lab-grown and natural diamonds in person.

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