Vintage vs. Modern Engagement Rings

engagement rings in a trayIf you’re shopping for an engagement ring, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options available. You might be debating vintage vs. modern engagement rings. There’s more to consider than just their price points and visual differences. 

While antique and vintage engagement rings were primarily handmade, most modern engagement rings are mass-produced. You’ll notice subtle differences between vintage vs. modern engagement rings, especially when comparing similar stones and settings. 

At Ellibelle Jewellery, we share a love for the beauty of bygone jewellery and engagement rings that tell a story. We specialise in solid gold and platinum vintage and antique engagement rings, working with hundreds of couples to find their ‘yes!’ ring. Our guide below covers the differences between vintage vs. modern engagement rings and what to consider when choosing a ring to celebrate your eternal love. 

Modern vs. Vintage Diamondsantique diamond rings in a blue tray

The main difference you’ll spot between vintage vs. modern engagement rings is in the details. The diamond cuts are entirely different. The way a diamond is cut determines how many facets it has and how it reflects light, creating the brightness and sparkle that we associate with engagement rings. You want a diamond with a proportional cut, maximising the light to give you a brilliant shine. 

Antique diamonds were often hand-cut, going deeper than the cuts we see in today’s diamonds, which are largely done by machine. It means that vintage diamonds can appear smaller than their contemporary counterpart, even when they are the same carat. However, this cutting method gives you a better sparkle than today’s diamonds, especially in lower lighting.  

If you compare a vintage vs. modern engagement ring, you’ll often see that the older style has a warmth from being handcrafted.

Intricate Styles vs. Sleek Silhouettesfour gemstone rings on a finger

Contemporary engagement rings almost all have a sleek and straightforward silhouette, with settings remaining consistent across different brands. It reflects the desire for cleaner cuts and the minimalism of fashion today. Contemporary rings are mass-produced, leaning into this desire for minimalism with engagement rings that often look identical to each other. 

We’ve all known someone who’s gotten engaged with a ring that reminds us of another one of our friends. If you want a unique engagement ring, shop for an antique style. 

Each era of vintage engagement rings has its own unique styles and silhouettes, all of which are more ornate than what we see from jewellery designers today. Filigree detailing, synonymous with Art Deco engagement rings, is a design element you’ll rarely see in contemporary rings. Every vintage engagement ring has its own unique character and personality, thanks to its intricate silhouettes and gemstones. 

Vintage vs. Modern Diamond Colour Grading

Another subtle difference between vintage vs. modern engagement rings involves diamond colour grading. Modern engagement rings often have a colour grading between D and F, making them clearer and more desirable. 

Letters lower down the alphabetic scale have a slight tint to their colour, but it is rarely noticeable to the naked eye. It’s usually diamonds with a colour grading lower than N, where you’ll see yellow start to come through.

Colourless diamonds are harder to find amongst antique engagement rings due to the smaller number of operational diamond mines during these decades. The few colourless stones that existed have largely been re-purposed into modern jewellery, making colourless antique engagement rings incredibly rare. You can still find a beautiful vintage diamond, often at a more affordable price than a modern diamond of the same carat weight. 

Gemstones vs. Diamond Engagement Ringsantique engagement rings on a hand

Vintage engagement rings all have a unique story to tell and reflect the beauty of a bygone era. One reason why couples choose to buy an antique engagement ring is because they want something that is both traditional and unique. 

The classic Tiffany solitaire diamond, which continues to dominate contemporary engagement ring trends, was introduced in 1866, leading to the popularisation of diamond rings that have evolved into the styles we see today. 

A vintage style is often your best choice if you want a gemstone engagement ring. Emerald engagement rings were common during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, often incorporated alongside diamonds. Popular gemstones for vintage engagement rings include aquamarines, sapphires, rubies, and opals.  

Personality vs. Mass Produced

If you walk through your local high street and look into the windows of jewellery stores on the high street, most of them are stocking the same rings. It reflects the mass produced nature of modern engagement rings. Designers create an initial design that is then mass-produced into moulds and made with machines, losing the intricate craftsmanship that once came with engagement rings. 

Your engagement ring is something you’ll wear for the rest of your life. It should be timeless but reflect your personality. An antique engagement ring is a connection to the past with beauty and elegance that has survived the test of time, reflecting the eternal nature of love. These vintage rings have a personality that no modern ring can replicate, with a craftsmanship that has been lost to time.  

Each vintage engagement has its own history and becomes a part of your story as a family heirloom that you can pass down to the next generation. We can help you choose an engagement ring that captures your story and provides an instant connection. 

Choosing a Vintage or Modern Engagement ring

Deciding between a vintage or modern engagement ring comes down to personal taste. If you want a contemporary silhouette with a minimalistic design and a focus on diamond clarity, a modern ring might be the option for you. By comparison, an antique engagement ring might speak to you if you’re searching for a gemstone ring or want something unique. 

If you’re debating between an antique vs. modern engagement ring, you’ll often find a better value by shopping vintage. It’s a more sustainable option and can give you a higher gold purity or carat weight for your budget.  

Are you shopping for a vintage engagement ring? Explore our latest finds, uploaded to our website every Sunday at 7 pm.