Over the decades, style trends come and go, but the appeal of classics always remains. When it comes to unconventional engagement rings, vintage-inspired designs have an old-world charm that makes a truly unique piece.
But what makes an engagement ring “vintage”? We take a closer look at the eras that vintage styles take inspiration from, and how we give them a modern twist here at Lucy & Mui.
Victorian Era (1837 - 1901)
Source // GIA.edu
It was the era of Britain’s first industrial revolution, political reform, and social change. Under the reign of Queen Victoria, who ascended the throne at a tender age of 16, the country became the world’s largest empire and introduced some remarkable inventions, such as the world’s first telephone, telegraph, and postage stamp.
When it came to jewelry, Victorian rings were generally in yellow or rose gold, and popular designs included halos, rows, and diamond clusters. As blue was Queen Victoria’s favorite color, turquoise and blue enamel featured prominently in jewelry during this period. Other gemstones like pearls, moonstones, and opal were also popular.
Although large diamonds were not common during the Victorian era, diamond solitaires were slowly gaining traction. Favored cuts include the emerald, baguette, and rose cuts, as modern diamond cuts like the round brilliant had not been introduced yet.
Edwardian Era (1901 - 1910)
Source // GIA.edu
Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII, had a brief reign in this early decade of the 20th century. It was a decade of prosperity and privilege, while diamonds, pearls, and platinum were materials of choice for jewelry.
It was also the era where filigree designs were widely prominent. A delicate embellishment in which fine threads of precious metal are twisted, curled, or braided, and then soldered onto jewelry, this metalwork weaved in popular motifs like ribbons, vines, and florals to create unique, intricately designed pieces of jewelry.
Besides diamonds and pearls, colored gemstones appeared more frequently. Old mine cuts and rose cuts were the most common cuts for diamonds during this period.
Art Deco Era (1920 - 1940)
Source // GIA.edu
Also called style moderne, Art Deco described a movement in the decorative arts and architecture, which originated in the 1920s and became a major style in western Europe and the United States during the 1930s.
In stark contrast to the delicate intricacies of Edwardian styles, Art Deco was all about bold geometry and repeating patterns. Instead of the light, flowy filigree patterns, Art Deco designs often featured milgrain, or a jewelry-detailing technique where tiny metal beads are added to create an ornate border around the ring.
Step-cut diamonds like emerald and asscher cuts were fashionable in this era, and colored gemstones like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, were especially popular. In terms of metals, white gold made its first introduction to combat rising platinum costs and public interest in a light-colored metal.
Retro Era (1940 - 1960)
Source // De Beers
Prior to World War II, a center diamond was hardly featured in engagement rings. It was not until the groundbreaking De Beers diamond marketing campaign, which inked its iconic “A Diamond is Forever” tagline, did diamonds become the stone of choice for engagement rings all around the world.
Unlike earlier eras, the Retro Era featured engagement rings with much simpler designs. Solitaire diamonds and baguette side stones were popular, and center stones grew in size after the Great Depression ended. Yellow and rose gold were metals of choice for engagement rings during this period, though many rings were also two-toned, with both yellow and white gold in one design.
Today, vintage-inspired engagement rings incorporate all kinds of influences, designs, and elements from these earlier eras, each one unique in its own way. These charming designs of the past require skill and thoughtfulness in their conception and creation - our jewellers have had decades of experience blending the influence of the past with the minimalism of the 21st century.
If you’re looking for an unconventional engagement ring that blends old with the new, explore bespoke. Whether it’s an Art Deco-inspired milgrain, or a Victorian-influenced diamond halo, we’ll bring your ideas to life and handcraft a piece with a design that stands the test of time, and one that truly speaks to you.
Here are some vintage-inspired designs we have here at Lucy & Mui. Let us know if you can spot the influences!
The Emerald Diamond Baguette Ring, USD3,400
The Asscher Moissanite Engagement Ring, USD1,350