The engagement ring is an ode to your ardent love, so finding an undeniably romantic one is critical. If you are on the quest to find one, vintage rings, especially Edwardian style engagement rings, are a perfect choice for you. They are symbolic of King Edward’s flamboyance and the preceding art nouveau movement. For more information on them, read this engaging guide focusing on engagement rings from the Edwardian era, that will show you their history, unique features, yin and yang, as well as where to find them.
History and Background of Edwardian Rings
Known as the “belle epoch”, the beautiful era in France, the Edwardian Era of jewelry design is known for its intricate and luxurious designs. Named after the ruling monarch at the time, King Edward VII, this era of jewelry design is heavily influenced by his love for prestige.
The abundance of wealth and prosperity in Britain is the primary contributing factor to the jewelry trends in the Edwardian Era (1902-1920). The discovery of diamond mines in South Africa ushered in new design and manufacturing techniques. Furthermore, larger center stones and exquisite milgrain became very popular at the time.
Likewise, the discovery of platinum mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1880, coupled with improved instrumentation, gave birth to filigree. Platinum was the favored metal of choice as it allowed for delicate designs while retaining strength. Unlike silver, it retains its luster over time and pairs perfectly with sparkly diamonds and white pearls.
What is an Edwardian Style Engagement Ring?
These extravagant and elaborate rings are a type of vintage-style engagement rings inspired by the design trends of the early nineteenth century. The intricate nature of these pieces reflects the fact that the complexity of jewelry pieces often denoted someone's wealth during the Edwardian era. So if you’re a young couple looking for a ring that is unique, charming, and distinctive, then an Edwardian Style engagement ring would be a good pick. The exhibition of traditional romanticism and hints of the art nouveau movement make it an ideal engagement ring
Here are a few defining elements of rings inspired by the era:
One of the features is the use of platinum, diamonds, and pearls to create the royal white look. However, it is more common in antiques from the Edwardian era. Since Edwardian style engagement rings combine contemporary style with elements from this era, designers today often use gold, or platinum along with diamonds or colored gemstones.
The flowy scrollwork on the band is one of the features from the Edwardian era that is still very much popular in modern designs. The curvy and soft designs, with elements winding in upon themselves, add a certain grace to the ring design.
The Edwardian era is famous for introducing floral motifs like garlands and wreaths using cluster settings. These motifs inspired by the preceding Art Nouveau movement lend femininity and elegance to the engagement ring. For example, this romantic antique floral engagement ring features filigree on the shank that matches the leaves of a plant. It also features a round cut diamond in a 4-prong setting to duplicate a rose-bud.
This is the art of setting rows of tiny diamonds close together to create an ornamental border either along the metal band or around the center-stone. They add a bit of sparkle and detail to an engagement ring without overdoing it. Just like this double halo ring from Gemvy that features milgrain to create a glistening border around the center stone.
Filigree is derived from the Italian word “filigrana” which means thread. In jewelry design, the word filigree refers to a technique for intricate metalwork. This is one of the design elements from the vintage era that is still very much favored by designers and customers alike.
With two pointed edges, this diamond cut resembles a boat and was very popular at the time. Some historians often link the marquise with King Edward's love of sailing.
Modern Edwardian Style Engagement Rings
A modern Edwardian style engagement ring is a great alternative if you don’t want to go down the route of a traditional gold and diamond ring. These are modern rings that are fashioned in the Edwardian style and offer a variety of diamond cuts, sizes, and colors.
For example, due to advancements in lapidary technology, you can choose more precise and stylish cuts such as Princess or Asscher. They are more sparkly than their vintage counterparts and look more modern, like this elegant cushion cut diamond ring studded with a diamond inside filigree lines.
There is a common characteristic between contemporary and vintage Edwardian engagement rings: fine workmanship and attention to detail. Scrollwork and filigrees are hallmarks of the Edwardian era; the engagement rings made during that era are exceedingly articulate.
It is widely assumed that modern rings tend to be less precise in design. However, that’s not entirely true! Modern rings can leverage laser sculpting and other technological developments to replicate that precision with ease and at a much lower cost. A case in point is this dazzling vine-inspired engagement ring with filigree that meticulously duplicates the pattern of a vine.
So, a modern-style engagement ring based on the designs of the Edwardian era makes the ideal choice, since you can combine the best of both worlds.
Pros and Cons of Edwardian Style Engagement Rings
Now let’s weigh the pros and cons of an Edwardian style engagement ring to help you make an informed decision.
First and foremost is the unique craftsmanship introduced at the start of the 20th century that sets these rings apart from the other vintage styles. The flowy filigree allowed artisans to bend the metal into floral motifs, and intricate milgrain that let them add extra shine to the rings without exaggeration.
Edwardian style rings are surging in popularity due to their traditional charm coined with delicate designs. Especially the intricate designs that add a certain character to the ring shank. The flowy scrollwork and lacy filigree in the rings serve the purpose of enhancing its femininity.
The pave setting, where the shank is lined with a row of tiny accent diamonds, was very popular in designs from that era. It optimizes the sparkle of a ring and gives it the ultimate chic look.
There is a price to be paid for all good things, and the price for these engagement rings is their high maintenance. Cleaning the entangled designs of these rings can be quite challenging at home. In addition to this, the lacy details and tiny stones in milgrain can easily trap dirt. Therefore, they require frequent trips to the jewelers for cleaning and polishing. However, their elegance and luxurious designs are worth the high maintenance.
Finding the Perfect Edwardian Style Engagement Ring
We've discussed the what and why of an Edwardian style engagement ring; now let's talk about where you can find it.
If you're searching for an authentic vintage engagement ring, the best place to begin your search is estate sales and vintage stores. Vintage jewels are naturally rarer, which means that they are more valuable and desirable. Hence, finding an antique version in the same style may be nearly impossible due to the rarity of such pieces. You can, however, purchase the Edwardian setting from Gemvy separately (Semi-mount) and use your center stone if you're keen.
On the other hand, if you have a very specific design in mind or want something more aligned with your taste, a custom-made ring is an excellent option. A bespoke ring provides you with more control over the design process and saves you the effort of searching for it.
Most importantly it will be unique to you as it has been designed exclusively for you. Since it will be based entirely on your vision, you can choose which design elements to incorporate or eliminate. Hence, you will able to create a ring that captures your style and represents the love you have for one another.
The process is pretty straightforward:
- Book an appointment with a designer
- Select material such as Platinum, White Gold, or Yellow Gold, etc.
- Select the ring settings i.e. Channel, Pave, Cluster, or three-stone setting, etc.
- Select the gemstone for the center stone. It could be either diamond, blue sapphire, or emerald.
- Select the stone cut e.g. marquise, round, or princes, etc.
- Select the size of the stones.
- Lastly, Get started on the design.
Designer Engagement Rings
Well, the above method works well if you have a certain design in mind. What to do if you don’t have one but still want to tweak the ring? The answer is Designer Engagement Rings. Some designers such as Gemvy have pre-designed vintage engagement rings with the option to change the stone or material or to tweak the design.
For example, their gorgeous custom halo ring with pave setting and milgrain ornamentation is the perfect combination of vintage and modern. You can modify the ring setting, select a metal of your liking, and change the size or shape of the diamond. You may also contact Gemvy to discuss further customization options.