Engagement Rings Through The Decades

No society can exist without love. Love is a moving force for unions, growth, allies, wars, nations, and other ideologies we consider ‘vital’. Since the very beginning of time, two strangers have been falling in love and sworn to spend an eternity loyal to each other. Starting from the 19th century, a diamond ring truly became the symbol of this consensual alliance called “marriage”.

Here at Jack Weir & Sons, we specialize in rare, historical period estate jewelry. Our collection offers some beautiful examples of engagement rings anywhere from the 1800s to the 2020s.

Today we would love to take you on a journey of engagement rings through the decades; starting from the 1800s.

1800 - 1899 - Georgian & Victorian Era.

Jewelry from these periods is extremely rare and coveted amongst connoisseurs, as it is at least over 123 years old. The oldest engagement ring in our collection is dated 1810 - a true Georgian Rose Cut Diamond Gold Cluster Ring.
Diamond rings from the early and mid-1800s often have a closed foiled back, which allowed for maximum brilliance achievable at that time.
Engagement rings from this period often feature “rose cut” or “table cut” diamonds, which are flat at the bottom, and rise like a dome. If you ever get your hands on one of these antique treasures, be careful not to get it wet, as water will tarnish the thin foil underneath the diamond. 
Victorian period jewelry (1837-1899) often features colorful enamel and “gypsy” settings, which is where the main gem is embedded in the metal to protect it from being stolen. 
Georgian Dutch Revival Rose Cut Diamond Gold Cluster RingAntique Georgian table Cut Diamond Gold Cluster RingAntique Old Mine Cut Diamond Enamel 18 Karat Gold Ring

1901 -1915 - Edwardian Era. 

The biggest change during the Edwardian era was the invention of platinum. Having a higher melting point, platinum allowed jewelry to create incredible and detailed jewelry inspired by women, their felinity, and natural motifs.

Art Nouveau, Art & Crafts, and Belle Epoque are some of the design movements that were prominent during this period. They represented the beauty of everything elegant, airy, and feminine. Many of the designs featured botanical or fabric-like motifs. The intricacy and exquisite craftsmanship of Edwardian jewelry are cherished to this day. Here are the examples of Edwardian engagement rings from our collection.

Antique 2.40 Carat Old European Cut Diamond Platinum Two Stone Navette RingAntique Tiffany & Company AGL Kashmir Sapphire Diamond 18 Karat Gold RingAntique GIA 1.52 Carat Old European Cut Diamond 18 Karat Gold Cluster Ring

The 1920s - Art Deco Geometric Shapes.

The Art Deco period lasted from 1920 to 1935. This is perhaps one of the most cherished periods in jewelry-making. With the invention of platinum, jewelers were able to achieve incredible intricacy, precision, and detail in their creations. The Art Deco period is also loved for its geometric shapes and symmetry. Emerald cut and Asscher cut diamonds were also invented at that

Our collection offers a large variety of Art Deco engagement rings to fit any budget or stylistic preferences. Here are some of the examples of renowned Art Deco diamond rings:

Art Deco GIA 2.51 Carat Old European Cut Diamond Platinum Engagement RingArt Deco GIA 1.44 Carat Old European Cut Diamond Platinum Engagement RingArt Deco GIA Diamond Platinum Engagement Ring

1940 - 1950s - Retro Period, the Era of RBC.

New technology was developed and the charming beloved Old European became today’s most-known Round Brilliant Cut. Marcel Tolkowsky - a Belgian mathematician calculated the precise proportions and angles to create the most brilliant, light-catching diamond-cut possible. Perfect 58 eye-catching facets make up the perfect RBC.

The new brilliant-cut inspired simple and timeless solitaire rings, where nothing is distracting you from the beauty of the diamond.

Retro GIA 5.02 Carat Diamond Platinum Engagement RingRetro GIA 4.15 Carat Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Platinum Engagement RingRetro GIA 3.49 Carat Circular Brilliant Cut Diamond Platinum Engagement Ring

1960 - 1970 - A Tribute to Step Cuts. 

In the 60s, the Art Deco style gained popularity again. This time around, engagement rings were all about geometric diamonds. The Asscher cut, and the Emerald cut. Brides were craving clean geometric lines and the beauty of the “infinite hall of mirrors”. Two brides, in particular, left a trace in history with their renowned engagement rings. Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy. 

Vintage GIA 2.00 Carat Emerald Cut Diamond Platinum Engagement RingElizabeth Taylor - Vintage Engagement RingsJacqueline Kennedy Engagement Ring - Find Vintage Ring

In the 70s, modern brides got into stacking their engagement rings with wedding bands, creating matching sets. Yellow gold and rose gold gained popularity amongst engagement rings, reflecting the fashions of this roaring decade.

The 1980s - To Each Their Own

This decade introduced us to a few iconic engagement ring styles. Rolling over from the 70s, yellow gold and bold looks were widely popular amongst 1980s brides. A wedding of the decade took place - Princess Diana got married to Prince Charles. Her iconic sapphire cluster engagement ring inspired a wave of reproductions and an overall trend towards color gem rings. Another common style in this decade is a round diamond with tapered or straight baguettes. 

Vintage GIA 3.03 Carat Diamond Platinum Engagement RingBuy a ring like Princess Diana Sapphire Cluster Vintage Gubelin GIA 2.26 Carat Old European Cut Diamond Emerald Ring

1990 - 2000s - Princess & Marquise Cuts. 

These diamond cuts took over in the 1990s grunge and Y2K. They were something new, something spicy and sexy. Every bride wanted a large carat solitaire or a 3-stone ring with a main center stone. More glam, more chic. Vintage GIA 3.11 Carat Emerald Cut Diamond Platinum Engagement Ringprincess cutmarquise cut

The 2010s - Radiant cut, Cushion Cut, and Diamond Halos.

The goal was to have as much sparkle as possible. Brides and their jewelers achieved that via radiant and cushion brilliant-cut diamonds, which are notorious for their radiating brilliance. Adding a diamond halo around the main diamond added more sparkle and coverage for a reasonable price. 

Vintage GIA 6.30 Radiant Cut Engagement Ring Solitairecushion cut with halo ring

The 2020s - Individuality in every detail.

Nowadays brides find it very important for their engagement ring to reflect their personality. More and more often we meet ladies who choose their ring before they speak with the groom-to-be, or make choosing a ring a joint effort. While some couples prefer to make a custom ring that matches all of their requirements, others choose to honor the history and opt-in for a rare, sustainable, and ethically-sourced estate jewel.

Here at JWS, we specialize in one-of-a-kind antique and vintage jewelry, and special large carat Old Cut diamonds. We are delighted to help you find a ring that speaks to you or your bride-to-be!