200 Years of Engagement Rings

June 7, 2021 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

Engagement rings are not just jewelry. They represent a commitment, a bond between you and your significant other, and it’s very important to choose the right one. This is not an easy choice, since there are so many options out there. If you need some inspiration, take a look at the 200 years of engagement rings. 

Georgian Era

Antique Georgian Era Period Rings

The Georgian era represents a period from 1714 to the 1830s. Engagement rings from this period are extremely rare since jewelers of that time melted everything they considered to be outdated. Gold was the most dominant metal used for engagement rings, as platinum hadn’t been discovered yet, and white gold wasn’t used. 

Nature was one of the biggest influences on the Georgian era, and the naturalistic design was extremely popular. Aesthetics was important and jewelers hand-crafted every single piece, carefully designing them to catch the eye. 

The most popular technique of this time was repoussé. It involved hand-hammering metal into different designs and shapes. Through this method, jewelers were able to create exquisite, unique rings. 

Victorian Era

The Victorian Era represents the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837-1901. During this period, many changes happened that had an impact on different areas, including jewelry. The designs and styles evolved and set standards that remain inspiring to many. This period represents the longest era in the 200 years of engagement rings. 

Victorian Romantic Era

Victorian Romantic Era Period Rings

The period between 1837-1861 is characterized by romantic and floral motifs. In these early years of Queen Victoria’s reign, engagement rings were simple, small, and delicate. Since diamonds were not very popular at that time, jewelers often added birthstones to engagement rings. Yellow gold was still the most popular metal. Details with snake motives were often used to represent eternity, and the inspiration was Queen Victoria’s engagement ring – in the shape of a snake. 

Other romantic designs of this era include bows, flowers, and hearts. Simplicity, romantic details, and uneven shapes marked this era. 

Victorian Grand Era 

Victorian Era Grand Period Rings

The Grand Era is the period 1861-1885. During this time, silver and black were predominant, due to Queen Victoria mourning the loss of her husband. The concept of “mourning jewelry” became very popular and this influenced the creation of engagement rings, too. During this period, jewelers often used black onyx engagement rings. 

Due to the diamond and gold rush, engagement rings often involved the combination of the two. 

Victorian Aesthetic Period

Victorian Era Aesthetic Period Rings

The end of the 19th century heralds the Victorian Aesthetic period (1885-1901). Since the Industrial revolution influenced this era, it kicked off the mass production of jewelry. Diamond cuts were perfected, and jewelers created new designs. This era was similar to the Romantic era, so the motives of hearts, flowers, and other romantic symbols were popular. Many jewelers dedicated themselves to replicating rings of the Romantic era. 

Frequent traveling had an impact on creating jewelry: jewelers used colorful gemstones in different combinations, and bulky rings gained popularity. 

Edwardian Era 

Vintage Edwardian Era Engagement Ring Examples

The Edwardian Era represents the first decade of the 20th century. The use of platinum became more prominent during this time. Previously, Platinum wasn’t used due to its high melting point. Diamonds were very popular, with old European and old mined cuts used frequently. The Old European cut remained very popular until the 1930s. 

The style of the era was extravagant, feminine, and graceful. During this period, engagement rings became popular and accepted across every social class.

Art Nouveau Era

Art Nouveau Engagement Rings

Art Nouveau marks the transition from the 19th century into the 20th century. The rebellion against the Victorian era characterized this period. People started to oppose the mass production of jewelry, and individual, hand-made jewelry gained more popularity. Jewelers used less expensive materials and often combined them with natural materials. 

Jewelers used different combinations of materials in an attempt to break the patterns of the Victorian era. Nature and flora inspired this era, and botanical symbols can often be found in engagement rings of the time. 

Art Deco Era

Vintage Art Deco Era Engagement Rings Examples

The period from 1920-1935 is called Art Deco. It is characterized by the use of platinum and white metals. The most popular motive was geometry. Engagement rings of this time involve different shapes with clear and sharp lines. The popular cut was the Asscher cut, even though it was created in 1902. 

Diamonds remained popular during this era. However, many rings also feature colorful gemstones such as sapphires and emeralds. 

Towards the end of Art Deco, during the Great Depression, many couples weren’t able to afford these expensive stones. They decided to buy less extravagant alternatives including glass, amethyst, etc. 

Retro Era 

Retro Era Rings Examples

The Retro Era represents the period from 1935-1950. Jewelers mostly used yellow, rose, and white gold to create engagement rings. Then, Platinum was only used for military purposes during World War II. Simpler design and smaller stones dominate this era, but the stone size grew larger towards the end. 

During this era, De Beers launched their campaign named “A diamond is forever”. Diamonds became a symbol of a long-lasting marriage and round-cut diamonds gained popularity. Center diamonds became a standard. 

Mid-Century Era

Mid Century Era Period 1950s Rings

During the mid-20th century, people were recovering from World War II. An economic boom happened, enabling people to enjoy luxurious things. 

During this era, center diamonds with precise and clear lines remained popular. These rings resemble the Art Deco era. White metal and large diamonds were at the forefront. Colorful stones gained popularity again, especially emeralds, since Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring, consisting of emeralds and diamonds was inspiring to many. 

The engagement rings of this era represent modernized classic styles. Several famous women and their engagement rings inspired others, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Mia Farrow, etc. All of them had large stones in different shapes, making this the new standard. 

Rings Throughout the Centuries

12370 Vintage Engagement Ring from Art Deco Era

Choosing a vintage engagement ring isn’t easy. Looking back on the 200 years of engagement rings, it’s hard to decide which one is the one. If you are looking for inspiration and want to surprise your significant other with a unique, quality ring that will last a lifetime, we hope this article pointed you in the right direction.