There’s something so classic about a vintage engagement ring. Whether it’s a sentimental family heirloom, an Art Deco diamond, or a mid-century modern gold band, choosing a vintage piece is a sweet way to honor the traditions and romance of the past while planning your future.
While modern rings will always be popular (who doesn’t love a classic Tiffany solitaire or an eco-friendly, lab-created diamond?), more and more couples are going vintage when it comes to their engagement and wedding jewelry. Specific eras of jewelry are as timeless as a solid gold band, while others—like the ’80s-style marquise—are more trendy. But what’s certain is that there are a plethora of options for vintage engagement rings to suit any style; even big, bold ’60s cocktail rings with semi-precious gems can be a fun and unique jewelry choice.
“People are always looking back at styles in the past and modernizing them, like in fashion,” says Easter Ahn-Lee, gemologist and founder of Easter Ahn Design. “The details of vintage style jewelry are beautiful and delicate and bring so much more character to the piece. As fashion styles always come back in a new, modern way, vintage-style engagement rings have also come back with a fresh, modern look.”
Choosing a vintage piece is also a more sustainable option, as you’re basically upcycling an existing piece by giving it new life on your hand. If you love shopping secondhand and wear a lot of vintage clothing in your day-to-day life, opting for a vintage engagement ring feels like second nature. Plus, shopping vintage means there’s less worry that someone else will have the exact same ring—or that you’ll look down at your hand and feel like your ring is now dated.
“There is this romantic beauty to it [vintage jewelry] that is hard to replicate today,” shares Sue Hopeman, VP of Merchandising at Robbins Brothers. “Each piece comes from another era with its own story to tell, especially with the thought of who that ring was made for and who last wore it. What’s more magical than that?” The high quality of vintage pieces also makes them a timeless choice. “Beyond its mystical nature, vintage jewelry is usually hand-made by skilled artisans that tend to produce more refined and durable work,” Hopeman explains. “It also feels incredibly special when it is a rare piece that only you in the world own and can’t be replicated.”
You can also update certain vintage pieces to make them feel more modern, especially if they’re family accessories that look a bit outdated or don’t quite suit your style, but you want to wear them for the sentimental value. “As a jeweler, I think we can always incorporate a little bit of vintage and modernize the style so it’s not too trendy,” says Ahn-Lee. “We can add a halo around the center stone, pave set diamonds on the side band, or add small milgrain details to the band to give it a vintage-inspired yet modern look.”
If you’re considering going vintage and want to keep up on the latest throwback trends, check out some of the most popular vintage engagement ring trends with insights from the pros.