Old or New: Smart Ways to Shop for Antique Jewellery

Shopping for an antique engagement ring can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Knowing how to spot damaged or fake antiques could save you from purchasing a ring that’s not authentic.

Look for Bad Repairs

Over the years the ring has probably been repaired, but you want to make sure that faulty repairs have not damaged the wearability of the ring. When looking at the ring, check the front and back to make sure that nothing has been done to the ring that would make it difficult to wear, or that would allow for the stones to easily fall out.

Antique engagement ring

Antique engagement ring


Know the Era

Knowing the different styles and hallmarks from each era will help you to decipher whether or not a ring is authentic. For example, if you know a certain diamond cut was not made during the Georgian period, but the person selling it claims it’s from that period, then it may not be authentic.

Antique engagement rings are from the following eras:


  • Rings from the Georgian (1700-1830) period have intricate metal work with flowers, butterflies, ribbons, and scrolls. The gems used were diamonds, garnet, emerald, topaz, and amber and they were usually a rose or table cut. The settings were usually closed with a foil backing. It’s very rare to find a ring from this period.


  • Rings from the Victorian era (1837-1901) had diamonds, amethyst, pink and gold topaz, coral, turquoise, ruby, garnets, emeralds, black onyx, and pearls, among others. The cutting styles were rose cut, old mine cut, and step cut. The motifs included snakes, angels, crosses, Greek and Roman designs, clovers, flowers, and Celtic, crescents, horseshoes, and moons, among others.


  • The Art Nouveau era (1895-1915) had rings that depicted nature with old mine and old European cutting styles. The gemstones used were small diamonds, pearls, emerald, opal, amber, lapis lazuli, tourmaline, and synthetic gems, among others.


  • Edwardian (1901-1914) rings have a hallmark or a maker’s mark stamped on the inside of the shank. The motifs included bows, ribbons, stars, moons, shamrocks, and leaves. The gemstones were pearl, diamond, emerald, peridot, sapphire, ruby, and opal, among others. They were usually seen with a rose, old mine, or Old European cut.


  • Rings from the Art Deco era (1920-1930) featured designs with a lot of diamonds in them. Others gemstones used were emerald, sapphire, black onyx, crystal, ivory, and jade, among others. The stones were cut with old mine cut, Old European cut, and step cuts.


Art Deco engagement ring

Art Deco engagement ring

Where to Look

Authentic antique engagement rings can be found in a variety of places including local jewellery stores, online jewellery shops that specialize in antique jewellery, and estate sales. For those in Florida, Tampa Bay jewelry stores offer a great selection of antique jewellery.

When searching for that perfect unique and charming antique ring for your loved one, make sure to keep the above in mind, and remember you can always ask your jeweler if you have any questions or concerns.

Mia Middleton has earned herself the nickname of magpie; she gravitates towards shiny things, most notably jewelry, and has recently landed a dream job at her local jewelry store. In her spare time Mia enjoys shopping for antiques and collectibles and adding to her ever-expanding jewelry collection!

3 thoughts on “Old or New: Smart Ways to Shop for Antique Jewellery

  1. I absolutely look hunting down vintage pieces at my local pop-up markets. There’s one held at Victoria Baths in Manchester with some amazing sparkly pieces!

  2. I’ve always been interested in old jewellery, but I’ve never felt comfortable spending too much money on it since I don’t know what to look for. This is great guide! Thank you. 🙂

  3. Pingback: My Sixpence Double Coin Necklace « fashionmommy's Blog

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