Important Things To Know About The Antique Engagement Rings

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Antique engagement rings can probably be classed as the ultimate in romantic love tokens for your bride to be. That doesn’t necessarily make them the right choice for an engagement ring and here’s why…

Firstly it’s difficult to establish exactly what the term “antique” really means in the sense of engagement rings.

There’s certainly a lot to consider if you’re thinking of buying these kind of engagement rings and a heck of a lot of pitfalls to avoid along the way. If you know anything about diamonds and diamond engagement rings you’ll soon begin to realize that pre WWII diamonds may not be of the kind of quality that you’ll want to buy compared to today’s sparkling beauties.

Antique gemstone engagement rings are just as hard to properly evaluate as antique diamond engagement rings from a jewelers point of view. And if you’re appraising antique engagement rings from an antique collectors point of view then it’s equally as difficult without proper guidance.

If you’re deadly serious about buying an antique engagement ring the very best piece of advice we could give you right now is to view prospective rings from yours and your future fiancées own point of view. If a particular ring pleases both of you then get an expert antique jewelry appraiser to provide an educated second opinion before you go ahead and part with a large sum of money

Important Things To Know About The Antique Engagement Rings


During the period just before WWII, diamonds were being devalued by as much as 50%! There were no diamond grading certificates to control the quality of diamonds and generally stones were not very well cut.

In fact many diamonds were cut in such a way as to retain as much weight (and value) as possible. Previous to 1928 there was no mathematical calculation for optimizing a diamond’s optical properties so all in all diamonds were not the kind of brilliant sparklers that are offered for sale today.

Properly evaluating and appraising diamonds that are set in antique engagement rings involves removing the diamond from the setting and grading it under controlled laboratory conditions. It might be a little difficult to get a vendor to agree to this, especially if they have something to hide.

So if it’s diamonds you want, either look for antique engagement ring settings that have the center stone missing or accept and enjoy the kind of diamond that you’ll see in many antique rings. Alternatively try going for a classy modern antique style engagement ring set with the diamond/s of your choosing.


As with diamonds, properly evaluating and appraising gemstones set in antique rings is very difficult without first removing the stones. Therefore very careful examination for in-situ damage to the stones is required as the quality of the cut and finish of the stones will be “antique”.

You’re mainly looking for nicks, scratches, chips, cracks and general wear to the stones and then you need to check the ring shank and head for any reciprocal damage too. As with antique diamonds the original cut quality of the stones won’t be as good compared to today’s standards so appraise each piece that you view as to how much it personally pleases you.

Precious Metals

Pre 1900′s platinum rings are very rare and tiffany solitaire style platinum antique engagement rings didn’t start to become popular until the art deco period at the beginning of the 1920′s.

Victorian rings were usually made in silver and gold. Gold became more available and popular with the gold rush era of the middle C19th. Therefore many antique engagement rings of this period and beyond will have been set in gold.

Without proper consumer quality controls having been set up at this time it’s difficult to verify the gold content of antique engagement rings without having them professionally appraised, so once again you’ll need to choose wisely especially when there are large sums of money involved.

Where To Buy?

In almost all other tutorials we recommend buying online but antique engagement rings are the exception. We looked at auctions on e-bay and were very skeptical of the hype and the promises being made. Some vendors offered in-house diamond appraisals (not worth the paper they’re printed on) and some were even offering independent diamond grading certificates from labs we’ve never heard of!

Also the FTC has reported that 28% of all online consumer complaints originate from online auctions.

We recommend looking for a reputable specialist brick and mortar antique jewelry dealer but this won’t be easy. Another way to buy an antique engagement ring is via antique auctions and estate sales in your local area where you can go along and inspect the piece before you bid for it. Having a hired expert on hand to help would be the best way to accomplish the task.

Again this won’t be an easy task to organize but it’ll will be worth it in the end when you can walk away with a perfect antique engagement ring that your partner will treasure for years to come.

Otherwise stick to modern reproduction antique style engagement rings which we think is the safest option and they can be just as beautiful and romantic as the real thing.

The Bottom Lines

  • Pre WWII diamonds aren’t in the same league as modern ideal cut diamonds and should be enjoyed on their own individual merits.

  • Grading or appraising diamonds and gemstones that are already set in items of jewelry such as antique engagement rings is difficult and definitely not the best way of carrying out the task.

  • The best way to judge an antique engagement ring is on its own merits and by how much it pleases you and your fiancée visually.

  • Finding antique engagement ring settings with the center stone missing will give you a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase an antique engagement ring and then have it set with a brilliant, sparkling modern cut diamond.

  • If you decide to go for antique gemstones and diamonds then check the ring shank for damage and the gemstones for wear, chips, nicks, cracks and deep scratches.

  • Beware of reported gold grades. If the ring is very old and is being advertised with 18k / 14k gold e.t.c.. then be aware that it’s probably just an estimation but it shouldn’t spoil your choice. Even so, it will give you an insight into how the vendor is operating.

  • Platinum engagement rings were very rare before the 1920s.

  • Beware of online auctions, try searching auctions and estate sales in your local area because you’ll be able to see and examine the ring/s up close. Take an expert with you for the best results.

  • There are plenty of reproduction antique engagement rings available and these might be a better choice if you’re looking for premium quality because you’ll be able to pick and choose the shape and quality of the diamonds and or gemstones to match the setting.