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The Pros and Cons of Buying A Vintage Engagement Ring | Rare Carat

Vintage Engagement Ring Pros and Cons

So your Daisy is a sucker for the 1930s and she’s looking at you, her Jay Gatsby to lock down a romantic vintage engagement ring that screams style of a bygone era. Sounds romantic enough, right?

Could be.

Leave it to us to play devil’s advocate. Look it could be great. It could save you money. But buying vintage could also be a huge pain in the butt.

Buying a vintage ring boils down to personal taste and knowing what you’re getting into and what to expect from an old stone and older setting.


Most of the time, buying vintage and antique engagement rings offer more value than buying a new ring. As lovely and unique as they are, these rings are still considered second hand pieces - with a few exceptions. Some styles like the Edwardian Bombe for example are considered rare -  and like all rare antiques, are pricier when sold by people who know what they’re selling.

However, especially when we’re talking about the diamond alone, you can get a great deal on a beautiful vintage or antique stone when you buy it used.


While diamonds really do last forever (even if people don’t) the detailing of the ring itself (especially the filigree of Victorian pieces) can and does start to wear and fall apart. Metals do show signs of age and wear and it’s important to see if the ring that presumably she’ll wear everyday is up for the task.

A friend of ours recently got engaged with a diamond ring from 1903 (pearl and diamond) and as lovely as it is - she had to have the entire ring refurbished shortly after the engagement because the side diamonds started to fall out. In the end, our pal bought another ring to wear daily, and just wears the 1903 beauty on special occasions.

If you know your girlfriend is going to want to wear her ring everyday, always check for the overall “wearable condition” of the ring itself.

Antique Ring = Antique Cuts

...which if your girl loves to “shine like diamond” Rihanna style, you may want to reconsider the era in which your diamond was cut.

Over time everything gets “better” and today diamonds are cut to maximize sparkle (hence the term brilliant cut) with 58 facets and machines that do the work precisely - as opposed to hand cutters (as awesome as they were) whose imperfections made the diamonds lopsided and increased the size of the cutlet - meaning sometimes you’d see a large dark hole right in the center of your stone. Back then, people didn’t mind the dark spots so much and instead these diamonds were cut to maximize their glow under the gas lights of the era. Of course every stone is different, but today diamonds are cut to minimize dead spots and black holes. So in short, if she likes the serious sparkle of modern “bling” she may not like a vintage diamond.

However, these cuts are unique, personal and cuts like Old European which boast chunkier facets make it seem like candlelight dances right through that diamond. These older cuts (when done well) could be exactly the factor that seals the deal on an antique diamond.  

Those Settings Tho

We’re going to sound like your mother for a second but, “they just don’t make things the way they used to.”

During the Victorian, Edwardian and especially Art Deco periods, no expense was spared when it came to craftsmanship of a beautiful ring. The lacey filigree on the Victorian rings, the diamond encrusted baskets of the infamous dome shaped Edwardian pieces and the rich flair of Art Deco design - they simply can’t be beat and there isn’t any replica today that quite compares.

If your girl is all about the details, find a durable setting that’s already stood the test of time - the wow-factor won’t be beat.

Perfectly Different

If everyone in your town is sporting the same 1 or 2 carat round six-prong solitaire on a white gold band and your girlfriend doesn’t want to look like she’s engaged to your buddies- go vintage.  These pieces are romantic, original, and definitely have the wow-factor to turn heads and stand out.

Warmer Diamonds

This is not true in every case, but it bears mentioning that by today’s standards the whiter the diamond, the better.

Over the years, warmer diamonds have gone in and out of fashion, meaning stones that would be considered “yellowish” or yellow today and therefore cheaper - were all the rage back then - and because of cutting techniques and where the diamonds were mined, whiter stones were extremely rare.  Depending on the era of ring you buy, it’s not uncommon to see a L, M, O or even R colored diamond taking center stage. The good news is when it comes to style now, truly “anything” goes and a lot of women swoon over the creamy color a warmer diamond throws. Just don’t skimp on cut!

The Bottom Line

Antique and vintage diamond engagement rings definitely have their pros and cons, but if you’re looking for a truly unique ring, to save some money on size, and you know she melts for history book heroes - these rings make for fabulous engagement ring options. Just do your research, avoid getting ripped off by antique dealers that charge more just because it’s old - and most importantly make sure your girl wants a ring that was once worn by someone else.

Jenny Beres
Jenny Beres
Jenny is an experienced copywriter and recovering diamond-aholic. She’s been writing for Rare Carat since 2016.