Over the centuries, starting even with Posy rings in the middle ages, rings have been given as tokens of affection. However, despite what many modern brides may think, the styles, materials, symbols, and stones that were used varied widely throughout history, and it wasn’t until the 20th century when diamond engagement rings became a norm. Let’s look to history and imagination to suggest five engagement ring options for the vintage, discerning bride:
Use a Wedding Band as an Engagement Ring
Yes, you read that right – a wedding band. My own engagement ring is a wedding band, my husband’s grandmother’s. As a woman who didn’t need a big ring, the wedding band with its small row of diamonds was absolutely perfect. Once we did get married, the original engagement ring that went with the band was what we used – reversing the norm! I’m proud of our unique and one-of-a-kind “engagement ring”, which allowed us to make a family heirloom all our own.
From deep rosy gold Victorian rings, to plain bands in warm, buttery high karat gold, our shop has a variety of rings to choose from. What wedding band could you see using as your engagement ring?
A Cluster Vintage Engagement Ring
While a solitaire diamond ring is one of the most common engagement ring styles, a cluster ring is a unique take that allows you to get more sparkle for your money. When stones are clustered together in a setting, smaller carat stones can be used to the same visual effect as a large stone – and is a lot lighter on the pocket book. Cluster designs are also an eternal classic, and have been used as a design element in rings for centuries.
Colored Stone Vintage Engagement Ring
A diamond is forever…or is it? While diamonds have been used in rings for hundreds of years, the diamond engagement ring craze is a newer phenomenon, made popular in the 1930’s and 40’s by DeBeers jewelry company. At the time, diamonds were neither scarce nor particularly valuable, so DeBeers coined the famous phrase and did targeted marketing (as well as controlled the supply!) to create a desire for diamonds and a belief in their value.
So…don’t believe the hype! Other stones can make marvelous engagement rings, as we saw firsthand with Princess Kate Middleton’s gorgeous sapphire ring. To help in choosing your stone, consider the meaning and symbolism behind each:
- Agate: truth, protection, strength
- Aquamarine: courage to overcome fears, protection on journeys
- Blue topaz: fidelity, friendship, gentleness, and integrity
- Emerald: fertility and calm
- Garnet: fertility, protection and healing
- Onyx: thought to deflect the negativity of others — associated with determination and perseverance
- Pearl: harmony, humility, purity, worth
- Ruby: fire, passion, the opening of the heart
- Turquoise: friendship, associations with nature
A Family Heirloom Makes a Wonderful Vintage Engagement Ring
Which brings me to my fourth point – as you and your love are talking together about marriage and engagement, consider whether a family member may have a suitable ring. Too many family heirlooms are sold off or melted down over the generations, so your breathing new life into one can be extraordinarily meaningful. You can of course keep the ring intact as I did with my own, or, many brides are choosing to get their heirloom stones reset into modern settings.
Choose an Engagement Ring with a Symbolic Number of Stones
While people often think about the symbolism in the stones themselves, the design or number of stones in a ring can speak to your commitment and future together. Toi et moi rings – French for “me and you” – are highly sentimental, yet with two stones are simple enough not to overwhelm. Trinity rings, with three stones – one for the past, present, and future – also offer a highly symbolic ring which doesn’t fit the solitaire norm. What number of stones is significant for your life?