The Definitive Guide to Vintage Ring Styles

June 2, 2016 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

A ring has to be at least 20 years old to qualify as “vintage.” The style and design matter more though. These two factors are indicative of the era, whether the earlier Georgian or the late Art Deco era. Some rings might also be classified as “vintage-inspired” or “vintage-styled.” However, “vintage-styled” rings aren’t actually vintage rings. They are newly made rings that look like they came from a particular period. Read on to learn more about vintage ring styles throughout history.

Vintage Ring Styles

vintage ring style

Stone setting is one of the most crucial stages of jewelry making. Not only does it ensure the gem will be held securely but different methods enhance the brilliance of the gem and its surrounding stones. Some, like the dome setting, are sleek and sophisticated, while the organic setting is more romantic. Let’s look at some of the more well-known vintage ring styles and stone settings to see what distinguishes them.

Scroll-Motif Vintage Rings

scroll motif vintage rings style

The scroll motif dates back to Ancient Greece. In the 18th century, jewelers combined elements of nature and the design of a scroll. For instance, metals may be shaped as flowing leaves or vines that can be fashioned to replicate the scroll.

The unique design was usually achieved through filigree work. Filigree is an art form that dates back thousands of years. Originating from Mesopotamian cultures, filigree work involves shaping, twisting and fashioning wire pieces into designs. Through this process, jewelers are able to create lace-like structures to give a ring a scroll-like shape. But in some cases, the scroll design may be achieved by placing small gemstones in specific patterns to form the scroll design. Designs like these are described as delicate and whimsical, and some may feature larger gemstones. Setting the stone in this kind of ring style may involve using various setting styles like bezel, prong, or channel.

Halo Vintage Rings (Cluster Rings)

halo vintage rings cluster rings

A halo/cluster features a large diamond or other stone in the center surrounded by a halo of smaller diamonds. The design produces an eye-catching and stunning effect. The visual impact is maximized by the shape and position of the stone. The halo setting can be found in various shapes: round, oval, square, and more. Halo rings are the best choice for brides looking for a vintage feel but wanting a more modern look. Arguably, the most famous halo ring was Princess Diana’s engagement ring, which was inspired by the ring Prince Albert gave to Queen Victoria in 1840.

The Halo design originates in the Georgian era. Although a popular choice for an engagement ring, this particular design also symbolized wealth. It was fashionable up until the Victorian era when oval shapes gained popularity.

Tiffany Style Rings

tiffany style rings

Tiffany engagement ring settings typically feature diamond shapes encircled by a single or double halo of diamonds. Tiffany-style rings refer to rings inspired by or resembling the renowned jewelry brand Tiffany & Co.

 These rings often feature classic, timeless designs and high-quality craftsmanship. It was in 1886 that Tiffany introduced the engagement ring as we now know it today. A popular Tiffany ring style is the Solitaire engagement ring. It features a single diamond and is meant to showcase the beauty of the stone. A round brilliant diamond is the most popular choice.

Tiffany Prong Setting

tiffany prong setting ring

The Tiffany prong setting was introduced in the late 19th century. The standard engagement ring for modern times, it features a round brilliant-cut diamond in a six-prong setting.

The brilliant and eye-catching setting features thin metal arms that cradle the diamond. It acts like a lift to hold the diamond above the band, allowing light to enter from various angles.

Bezel Style Ring

bezel style ring

The bezel style is one of the oldest types of settings. Characterized by a metal ring holding precious or fragile stones in place, a round, brilliant cut is usually the desired choice. The bezel setting is more suitable for those with an active lifestyle. It can be used for jewelry of all types, from earrings to necklaces, bracelets to rings.

Celebrities like Poppy Delevingne and Mary-Kate Olsen favor this particular style. It’s more expensive, but the design of the ring makes the stone appear bigger.

Three Stone Ring

three stones ring style

The three-stone ring features a large gem in the center and smaller diamonds on both sides. Typically associated with the Georgian and Victorian eras, DeBeers is often erroneously given credit for it. Marketing it as a “Past, Present, and Future Ring,” DeBeers might not have designed the style, but they did popularize it.

Three-stone diamond rings are a popular choice for engagements and vow renewals. They might also be given for an anniversary or after a milestone in life is achieved. Versatile and beautiful, some may decide to augment the ring with a birthstone after having a child.

Vintage Cluster Ring

vintage cluster ring style

A vintage cluster ring features diamonds or other gemstones set close together in a design that often resembles a flower or star. Cluster rings are most often crafted with small diamonds around the center stone. This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a sparkly engagement ring.

Cluster rings are popular because they’re generally less expensive than alternative styles. This is because the diamonds are usually of lower carat weight. Note that this is an affordable choice if you’re working on a tighter budget.

Vintage Split Shank

Vintage split shank rings feature a divided band that comes together at the center. Because of the way the band splits as it reaches the center, the eye is drawn to the middle gemstone, making it appear slightly more prominent. You can add more diamonds if you separate the sides into two strands.

The vintage split shank is usually favored by those looking to add more sparkle than standard-setting bands offer. This ring became popular during the Art Deco era (1960s-1970s) but remains a popular choice today. You might’ve seen this style worn by celebrities like Blake Lively and Paris Hilton.

Vintage Crown Ring

vintage crown ring style

The vintage crown ring typically features a round-shaped diamond held at the center of the ring. Sitting on the sides of the crown are sparkling stones. The pave set diamonds twinkle halfway down the band, making this ring an exquisite choice.

They call it a crown engagement ring because the diamond is set in what appears to be a crown shape. This gives the ring a regal and vintage appearance. It’s also symbolic, as the crown symbolizes power, victory, and honor.

Vintage Channel Ring

vintage channel ring band

In a channel setting, the gemstones sit next to one another between two parallel tracks on a metal wall. It looks like a channel, hence the name, and is meant to give the impression that the gems are floating.

This works well in maximizing brightness because of the sleek, uninterrupted flow of the gems. None are protruding but flush with the surrounding metal. This style can make for a particularly memorable and meaningful piece of jewelry.

Vintage East-West Ring

vintage east west ring style

Engagement rings are typically vertical, meaning the gemstone is positioned to point up and down. Sometimes, they’re referred to as “north-south” rings. However, the east-west ring flips the placement to the side. The center stone no longer sits vertically but horizontally. Hence, the stone is planted in an east-west direction.

This is a perfect choice for those who want a traditional but individual look. It’s also an ideal choice for those looking for sparkle and bling. The shape tends to maximize the carat weight. The best gems for this ring include oval-cut diamonds, emeralds, and a marquise.

Two-Tone Vintage Ring

two tones vintage ring style

A two-tone engagement ring is usually composed of two types of metals. The most common are platinum and yellow gold. However, it’s possible for the ring to feature white and rose gold or other combinations.

People prefer two-tone rings for symbolic reasons. For instance, it might feature a band that coils, supporting two gems to symbolize the coming together of two lives. The two-stone engagement ring is called Toi et Moi, French for “you and me.”

Organic Motif Ring

organic motif ring style

This ring band usually features an organic motif, like leaves and flowers. These motifs in jewelry can be traced back to Ancient Greece and Rome. However, it was heavily featured in the Art Nouveau movement, which saw designs heavily influenced by nature.

The design and appearance varied from floral arrangements to animal motifs (birds, dragons, butterflies), and textures often mimic that of nature, the roughness of tree bark, or the veins of a leaf. Most gemstones are also chosen to represent nature or natural elements. Sapphires for water, emeralds for leaves, or other gems and stones like opals. Whether chosen for a deep symbolic meaning or just for aesthetics, it’s a ring that’s sure to resonate.

Dome Ring

dome ring style

The dome ring is a polished, chunky band that really shines. Although it’s vintage, the dome has a futuristic look to it. Most people wear this kind of ring to a formal event. But it’s also a nice piece to add to your work outfit.

The dome ring might be a great choice if you’re looking for something minimalistic as it doesn’t feature any gemstones. Also, there’s no pattern in the design. It’s a smooth, polished surface that’s both elegant and timeless. There are variations in which gemstones may be featured, however. Take the Pave diamond dome ring, for example. Pave, deriving from the French word pavement, in which gemstones appear to be paved as they’re set close together. This kind of design is the right choice for those looking for a little more sparkle and shine.

Elongated Style Ring

elongated style ring aquamarine

An elongated ring features a longer diamond shape. However, it still has the rounded corners you’d find with the classic cushion-cut diamond. As a result, the gemstones on this band appear rectangular, similar to an emerald-cut diamond.

This style is less common and might cost you a little bit more. However, the look is flattering. The elongated shape complements the appearance of a woman’s fingers.

Retro Setting

retro ring style

Retro setting rings were made from the 1930s-1950s. Featuring bold designs and geometric shapes that might be rectangular or asymmetrical, yellow gold is commonly used since platinum was reserved for wartime uses. Sometimes, rose gold and platinum may be used.

The color palette includes vivid combinations of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. As the era progressed, however, more muted colors with stones like topaz, citrine, green beryl, and aquamarine became popular.

Vintage Eras and Their Style

vintage eras and their style

There are five main eras in which vintage rings derive. These include the Georgian (1714-1830), Victorian(1820 and 1914), Edwardian (1900-1920), Art Deco (1920-1940), and the Retro (1940-1960) eras.

  • Georgian (1714-1830) – Georgian-era rings were mainly made from gold and featured elaborate designs. Ring style themes included ribbon work, butterflies, and flowers, and they were often colorful. The rings largely mirrored the romantic movement of the time. Diamonds were often chosen to add sparkle and brilliance. Sometimes, other gems were placed to accentuate the piece.
  • Victorian (1820-19000) – Victorian-era rings were best known for their romantic designs. These rings often featured diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, and the bands themselves may have had flower or heart designs and shapes.
  • Edwardian (1900-1920) – Edwardian-era rings are known for their highly intricate and elaborate designs, thanks to lots of filigree work and milgrain edging, and a primary focus on showcasing diamonds.
  • Art Deco (1920-1940) – Art Deco rings are bold and featured sharp angles, lines, and various shapes. These rings often feature diamonds and other gems to create a stunning effect. The stones are big and a popular choice among women who want to make a statement with their ring.
  • Retro (1940-1960) – Retro era rings are rather chunky and feature a wide range of colorful gemstones. Retro engagement rings are timeless and able to pair nicely with a wide range of wedding bands given its versatility.

Vintage-inspired rings don’t have to stick to the style. They might incorporate styles from multiple eras, combining designs to create something new.

Shop Vintage Rings

Vintage or even vintage-inspired rings can add flare and personality. Whether your special someone prefers a sleek dome ring or a more intricate design, vintage rings have mostly covered it. If something else catches your eye, maybe you like the romance of the Victorian era with a bit of the chunky coolness of the retro era, you can combine the two. Make it your own and get a vintage-inspired design. What are you waiting for? Contact Estate Diamond Jewelry so we can help you finalize your choice today!

Talk to a Jewelry Expert

talk to a jewelery expert

If you’re looking for a vintage or vintage-inspired ring, please visit us at Estate Diamond Jewelry. We’ll help you choose a style that is sure to shine. You can always look from the selection and speak to a representative if you’re too far to visit the area. Our diamond experts will be ready to help, taking into consideration your needs and your budget.


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Definitive Guide to Vintage Ring Styles