There is something truly special about the vintage filigree engagement rings. The ornate design and attention to detail give a special depth to these pieces. Not to mention the craftsmanship that goes into making a filigree.
But how do you find a perfect filigree ring for your future spouse? What are the things you should look for? This article aims to answer these questions and provide you with a selection of eye-catching filigree rings.
Before you start checking out the filigree ring selection at Estate Diamond Jewelry, it doesn’t hurt to find out more about this ornamental technique.
- What is a Filigree Engagement Ring?
- History of Filigree
- Filigree Ring Settings
- 10 Examples of Filigree Engagement Rings
- How to Clean Filigree on Engagement Rings?
- How Do Jewelers Repair Filigree?
What is a Filigree Engagement Ring?
A filigree engagement ring features a complex ornamental design. Filigree is done on the metal and has a special place in the jewelry industry.
Artisans showcase their skill by twisting and curling precious metals into a unique design. And then, the design gets soldered onto the ring itself. Usually, filigree is a part of the ring’s under-galley, shoulders, or setting.
Those who aren’t in the know might confuse filigree with engraving. Therefore, it pays to make a distinction between the two.
As indicated, filigree is the process of laying an ornate design onto the ring. And engraving means that the ring gets carved to create the intricate design.
Of course, there are engagement rings that have both filigree and engraving. But unlike filigree, engraving usually stops on the outer or inner side of a ring.
Click here to learn more about filigree in jewelry.
Brief History of Filigree
You might not be aware of it, but filigree has been around since ancient times. Advanced civilizations in Phoenicia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt used the technique for their jewelry.
In fact, archaeological findings revealed filigree jewelry that’s about 5,000 years old. The interesting thing is that the filigree technique has changed very little over the centuries.
Jewelers now have contemporary machines that make the job easier. But the craftsmanship is virtually the same.
Filigree Ring Settings
The popular settings include halo cushion cut, pear-shaped gemstones, as well as knotter setting. However, the most interesting pieces predate the 1950s.
This is partly because the style and filigree itself became popular during the Victorian era. The design took cues from architecture, traditional ornamentation, and Victorian trends. Some of that style remains popular to this day. And it’s not uncommon to find contemporary pieces that emulate the traditional design.
The key thing is that each filigree ring is unique because it’s hand-crafted. Even when a skilled jeweler tries to replicate the original design, minute deviations showcase his or her artisan touch.
Due to this, filigree is yet another element that makes the ring all the more special. And there are even simple rings that offer intricate filigree.
Top 10 Examples of Filigree Engagement Rings
Kapolei Ring – Circa 1920
One look at the shoulders and the under-gallery of this ring, and you’ll understand what filigree is all about. The Kapolei’s filigree design accentuates the central European-cut diamonds. And there are also engravings along the sides of this ring.
The entire piece is made of platinum and the diamond has a nice balance of the 4 Cs. The central stone weighs about 0.90 carats and it’s of SI2 clarity and H color. This also puts the ring in the great value for money category.
In addition to the great price, this piece also belongs to Art Deco – one of the most sought-after eras for vintage rings.
Bridgeville Ring – Circa 1930
The filigree craftsmanship on the Bridgeville is in a league of its own. Each grove, ridge, and bend are to allow the central diamond to shine through.
By looking at the images, this vintage ring might seem robust. But the diamond is 1.64 carats and its clarity give some depth to the entire piece. Speaking of which, the diamond is of VS2 clarity and L color. And there are antique-cut diamonds on the shoulders as an extra embellishment.
The piece belongs to the late Art Deco era and has been crafted from platinum. Overall, it stands out as a timeless mix of style, bling, and ornamental design.
Plano Ruby Halo Ring
The Plano Ruby is a genuine show-stopper and it gracefully incorporates filigree, halo, and rubies. For starters, the filigree is in the under-gallery. It’s openwork and serves like an arch-like setting for other precious elements.
The central 1.42-carat diamond dominates the entire piece. It is of exceptional clarity (VS1) and L color. Plus, the halo features French-cut rubies which make the central diamond look even bigger and brighter. But this isn’t the end of it. The shoulders are flanked by smaller diamonds and there’s milgrain on the bezels.
This piece features a bunch of embellishments indeed, but the ring isn’t busy by any means. Together, the decorative elements give the ring an elegant flow.
If money is no object, you really need to check out the Altona and not only because of the filigree. This stunning piece sports a 4.20-carat diamond of J color and VS2 clarity. And it’s the emeralds in the halo that round off the enchanting design.
There are more than twenty of them and the setting has milgrain on the inner and outer bezels. This sounds impressive, but what about the filigree?
It’s situated on the mounting and crafted in platinum. Of course, this precious metal is used for the rest of the ring as well.
You should also know that this ring is quite rare and might not be at Estate Diamond Jewelry for long. If you have your eyes set on it, don’t think twice about the purchase.
The Tyne ring has filigree worthy of royalty. The entire under-gallery and a part of the shoulders are dedicated to the ornate embellishment. The open-work succession of lines, bends, and leaf-like motifs make the setting appear as if floating.
The setting is the home to a 1.21-carat ruby. And it won’t be wrong to assume that the gemstone as close to “pigeon’s blood” color as possible. But if you thought the ring’s bling stops at that, think again.
The ruby is encircled by about 0.84 carats worth of brilliants. In addition, smaller brilliants flank the ring’s shoulders.
With this in mind, the piece might not be for those or want a simple ring. But its complexity isn’t second to elegance and style.
Trun Ring – Circa 1915
This ring ticks all the right boxes in terms of style, design, and detailed craftsmanship. It has a subtle array of filigree that takes up the under-gallery and shoulders. Due to this, it would be a great choice even if your future spouse is more into simpler rings.
Since it was handcrafted in 1915, the ring actually belongs to the antique category. But unless you’re an expert, it would be hard to guess the age. In fact, this period piece wouldn’t seem out of place in a contemporary jewelry showroom.
Anyway, the main highlight is the diamond, which is a European-cut and 2.32 carats. The ring comes with the GIA certificate and it has been rated at VS1 clarity and I color.
Albi Ring – Circa 1920
Designed at the onset of the Art Deco, the Albi ring is a remarkable representative of the era. Plus, there is a distinct architectural quality in the ring’s design.
The filigree is in the under gallery and it appears to accent the columns that support the box setting. But the filigree doesn’t stop there, it extends all the way around the ring to provide one of the most intricate designs.
Embellishments out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the bling. The central diamond weighs 3.94 carats and sports an old European cut, and it’s of VS2 clarity and K color. What’s more, there are extra old-cut diamonds on the shoulders and under-gallery.
If you’re on a tight budget and looking for a great vintage filigree ring, the Tide might be the bling for you. Similar to some other models, the Tide features the filigree in the under gallery. It’s subtle and gives a classy air to the entire piece.
Another highlight is the geometric setting and the square cut 0.80-carat aquamarine. The gem itself has great saturation and a deep blue tint when you peer into it. There are more than a few diamonds around the aquamarine. And their total weight amounts to 0.45 carats.
Those who wish to impress their loved one with a serious vintage piece should check out the Siena. The central diamond seals the spotlight because it weighs 2.48 carats and has VS1 clarity and K color.
Factor in the baguettes that surround the main stone and you get a stunning piece indeed. The openwork filigree is in the under-gallery and rounds off the complex design of the ring. Fine milgrain embellishes the bezels atop the Siena and there are more diamonds on the sides.
The filigree and the ring are made of platinum and the diamond was cut in 1920. The cut is an antique cushion and it matches well with the baguettes.
Rovigo Ring – Circa 1920
The Rovigo Ring is a quite rare Art Deco piece that features ornamentation, unlike most other rings. The openwork filigree extends along the gallery and it complements the setting.
The central stone is a bold 1.87-carat diamond that comes with GIA certification. As for the clarity and color, the diamond has been rated as VS1 and L respectively. The shoulders feature sapphires on each side and the auxiliary stones add extra 0.36 carats to the ring’s weight.
Aside from being an exceptional engagement ring, this piece wouldn’t be a wrong choice for a collection. This is due to its characteristic design, craftsmanship, and a combination of gemstones.
How to Clean Filigree on Engagement Rings?
When cleaning filigree on an engagement ring the important thing is not to use any harsh chemicals or cleaning agents. The household items that do the trick are lukewarm water, soft-bristle brush, and mild dish soap.
You shouldn’t use any detergents because these might contain the chemicals that could damage the gemstones or the metal. Create a mild solution of dish soap and water and soak your engagement ring. If you feel it’s really dirty, it’s okay to leave it to soak for a few minutes.
Then take the ring out, put it in a glass or small bowl, and gently brush the filigree and the entire ring. For the most part, it’s okay to use an old toothbrush for the job. But if the ring has delicate gemstones, you might need an even softer brush.
While brushing, you shouldn’t apply too much pressure because it might loosen some of the gemstones. This is also why you’re using a bowl or a glass. If a gem escapes the setting, it’s much easier to catch it in the glass than your sink.
Brushing out of the way, you’ll need to rinse the ring in lukewarm or cold water. Take a piece of cloth and dry the ring thoroughly. Again, there’s no need to exert pressure as if you want to polish the piece. Light padding and wiping are more than enough.
A Word of Caution
You should make sure to avoid any substance that might dull the ring’s brilliance. This applies when you wear and clean the ring.
The common culprits that might damage the ring’s appearance are household cleaning chemicals. A lot of them contain ammonia which is very harsh for gemstones and precious metals. The same goes for chlorine because it may pit gold.
What’s more, some cosmetics like lotions, hairsprays, and perfumes can create surface damage on gemstones. This mostly applies to pearls and turquoise, but certain brilliants are also susceptible to chemicals in cosmetics.
And if your ring appears to be too dirty or you can’t clean it on your own, it’s best to take it to a professional. Some jewelers like Estate Diamond Jewelry are willing to provide free maintenance if you’re their client.
When to Take off Your Engagement Ring
Aside from when cleaning and doing chores, you should take off the ring before you start physical activities. This applies to gym exercises, swimming, yoga classes, or any other strenuous activity. And it’s not only about damaging the ring. It might slip off your finger and you’ll lose it.
As a rule, it’s best to put your ring to rest before you go to bed. Even if you’re not a restless sleeper, some of the ring’s elements might loosen and fall off.
How Do Jewelers Repair Filigree?
The lace-like ornate filigree on vintage rings may seem impossible to repair. But expertise and steady hands can do the trick.
There are two ways jewelers repair filigree. If the damage isn’t too extensive, the jewelers use special tools to pierce the filigree. Then they file the problematic areas until they restore the original shape. To bring back the luster, the jewelers buff the ring and they might apply professional polishing agents.
The job is much trickier with filigree that’s broken, dented, or pitted. In this case, the jewelers usually secure an open area in the design and recreate the old filigree with precious metal wire. Then the new element gets soldered onto the old design.
But this is not the end of the process. The filigree needs to be filed and buffed so it matches the old design and looks. If done right, an untrained eye shouldn’t be able to notice that work was done on the ring.
You should know that this process requires patience, focus, and experience. And this goes double for vintage and antique rings. Old jewelry is often more delicate and requires more care and expertise.
This is why you need to be extra vigilant and choose a jeweler that specializes in vintage and antique jewelry repairs. The company should employ certified staff only and the certification you’re looking for is Jewelers of America or other reputable associations.
Other Common Repairs
For vintage engagement rings, these include resizing and prong repair.
To resize the ring, a jeweler might cut and solder the piece. During the process, the precious metal gets removed or added to create the right fit. The bottom of the ring’s shank gets cut unless there’s engraving or maker’s mark.
As for the prongs repair, the jeweler might replace it altogether or create new tips by adding more metal. Either way, the new structural elements should blend with the rest of the ring and there shouldn’t be any signs of repair.
To reiterate, a repaired or refurbished vintage ring needs to have a uniform luster, color, and appearance. There shouldn’t be any visible hammer or tool marks and the same goes for soldering marks. And the gemstones need to be secured in place without any room to budge.
Filigree is one of those embellishments that doesn’t seem to go out of fashion. From ancient Egypt to this day, the intricate filigree has been the thing to make a piece stand out all the more.
And the best thing is that you shouldn’t struggle to find a vintage filigree ring that fits your future spouse’s style. This article has provided you with more than a few examples and now your job is to pick the right one.
The trick is to look for a balance between the filigree and other elements. For example, if the central stone is on the hefty side, you should go for a more subtle filigree.