All posts in Estate Engagement Rings

Go Retro with a 1960s Gemstone Engagement Ring

Retro Vintage Old European Cut Diamond and Ruby Ring

In the 1960s, color was king, and big and bold were in. One could submit that 60s-era jewelry represented the best of both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Strong architectural lines remained, but to these geometric lines were added sweeping curves and artful flourishes, lending an organic flair not seen in the early 1950s. It was a time of free love among the masses, so the wedding industry had to turn almost entirely toward America’s landed gentry for its cues.

The likes of the Vanderbilts, Kennedys, and Astors set the standard for designer engagement rings, buying their important ladies the best of Cartier, Tiffany, and Van Cleef and Arpels. Stylized floral themes emerged, even in wedding jewelry, and brooches, bracelets, and necklaces became larger and more ostentatious. One could argue that the wedding industry boomed under the heavy influence of these art-conscious trend setters.

If not for the insatiable and exotic appetites of these world travelers, these historic jewelry legends might have become stuffy and repressed in their designs. Instead, those who had all that money could buy wanted the unusual, the unreal, the unexpected. This leant a decided flair, even to engagement rings. Thus, we have the stunning, larger-than-life step-cut aquamarines flanked by diamonds in platinum, as well as sweeping swirls in platinum and yellow gold ornamented with blue sapphires, rubies, and diamonds.

With the onset of this new wave of art jewelry, stone size became only slightly less important (unless you were Elizabeth Taylor). A number of styles features modest blue  sapphires, interspersed with diamonds of equal size, which were displayed right alongside solitaires boasting large diamonds. Rubies were also popular, and sometimes designers used all three precious stones together. It was a time of showy beauty, and every one of these pieces evokes the nostalgia of a unique era.

If your sweetheart loves the high-style of Jacki Onassis Kennedy or Gloria Vanderbilt, may we suggest you surprise her with a 1960s retro-vintage engagement ring? We have a number of beautiful options in stock and would relish the opportunity to place a bit of history right into your hands. Just give us a call.

Robin Wright + Ben Foster Seal Their Engagement with a Lover’s Knot and Eternity Band

Diamond Eternity Band in Platinum. Photo © EraGem Jewelry

Look Right Here! at this Diamond Eternity Band in Platinum. Photo © 2014 EraGem Jewelry

Robin Wright and Ben Foster appeared together Friday night with Ms. Wright’s daughter, Dylan Penn, at Diane von Furstenberg’s “Journey of Dress” premiere in LA. In photos captured on the red carpet, the esteemed movie and TV actress wears two simple golden bands, one a lovers knot and the other a gold eternity band which may be set with diamonds. The couple confirmed their engagement today after a two-year romance.

Ms. Wright is as famous for her wild 20-year romance with actor Sean Penn as she is for her iconic roles in The Princess Bride and Forrest Gump. Her most committed role to date, however, has been that of mother to Dylan Penn (22) and Hopper Penn (20). During their formative years, the actress repeatedly refused roles that would distract her from her leading role. ”I did what I wanted to do: I raised my kids” {cited}.

Now that they’re all grown up, Robin Wright has emerged once again, as brilliant and busy as ever. With leads in The Conspirator (2010) and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009) and supporting roles in Rampart (2011) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), Robin Wright worked diligently toward her current Emmy-nominated role in TV’s House of Cards.

She met her sweetheart, Ben Foster, on the set of Rampart, and the two began their public romance in February of 2012. Mr. Foster began his career as a TV actor, appearing regularly in Flash Forward (1996-97), Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000), and Six Feet Under (2003-05). He first appeared in movies in 2006, when he scored parts in Alpha Dog and X-Men: The Last Stand. Ben will be taking the lead for the first time in a biopic about bicyclist Lance Armstrong. The movie is currently in the works with an unspecified release date.

The couple’s big day also has yet to be announced.

Platinum: The Perfect Representation of Eternal Love

© 2013 EraGem

© 2013 EraGem

May we recommend this lovely bridal set for your winter wedding?

The central diamond weighs in at 1 carat and has been graded by the Gemological Institute of America as a G in color with a clean VS1 clarity grade. The stone’s excellent cut, polish, and symmetry ensures that this diamond will dazzle even on the grayest winter day.

For additional sparkle, one round brilliant diamond sits on either shoulder alongside the central diamond, and the complementary wedding band features a row of three round brilliants. All together, 1.84 carats of high-quality diamonds sparkle amidst a lovely setting crafted entirely of platinum.

Truly, there is no metal more perfect to represent the bonds of love than platinum. First, it is heavier than any other metal used for gold. Platinum’s hefty substance symbolizes the greater weight you will now give this one relationship over all that have gone before it.

Platinum is also extremely durable, withstanding great heat and pressure without losing its luster. Your marriage, too, will endure hardship, uncertainty, and the pressures of daily life. It is our hope that through it all, you will find your bonds will be as durable as platinum.

In order to produce one ounce of pure platinum, ten tons of raw ore must be worked for over five months, and when platinum is scratched its substance is only displaced and not truly lost. With a little attention and a good polishing, that material can be coaxed back into place, leaving the surface as shiny as when it was before the wound.

Similarly, the purity of your love will require careful cultivation over time, and when hard times come your way, we hope that with a little bit of attention and a good dose of healing, your love will be as shiny and pure as it was in the beginning, if not more so.

Rarer, purer, and stronger than nearly every other jewelry-grade metal on earth, platinum is truly the perfect representation of the eternal bonds of love between marriage partners. What better way to seal your union than with this gorgeous pairing of pristine diamonds and lustrous platinum?

Reading & Understanding Diamond Grading Reports

Photo © EraGem Jewelry

Photo © EraGem Jewelry

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

What is a Diamond Grading Report?

According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), a Diamond Grading Report is a “credential of a diamond’s authenticity and quality” {9}. It is not an appraisal or a certification of a diamond’s value. Rather, it is a report generated based on the unbiased evaluation of a diamond by an independent team of certified gemologists trained to examine and describe in detail the characteristics of a diamond.

Who Issues Diamond Grading Reports?

Countless laboratories exist to grade diamonds and other gemstones. Some of these labs operate independently, while others represent the interests of the consumers or retailers they represent. Despite an industry-wide practice of referring to diamond grading reports as certificates, technically that is not the nature of the majority of these reports.

By definition, the word certificate is synonymous with the word guarantee, which is defined on Google as a provision of “formal assurance or promise, especially that certain conditions shall be fulfilled relating to a product, service, or transaction.” Design firms like Tiffany & Co. offer in-house evaluations and certificates to verify that the diamond you’re buying is one of theirs and not a knock-off. Tiffany’s grading reports do act like certificates, in that they are a guarantee that what you’re buying carries the value of the Tiffany name. These house-specific reports are the only non-appraisal reports that offer any kind of guarantee; therefore, they are the only grading reports technically called certificates.

This conversation about terminology seems at first glance like a study in semantics, a case of splitting hairs. However, according to the GIA, the world’s leading diamond grading laboratory, the distinction is essential for the protection of the gem and jewelry buying public {16}. Uneducated consumers repeatedly fall prey to shady jewelers who provide so-called independent reports from obscure labs. These typically trumped-up “certificates” imply a greater weight of authenticity, thereby justifying a higher price for a diamond with a market value far lower than the asking price.

Industry Leaders in Diamond Grading

To ensure that you do not fall prey to this age-old con, EraGem encourages a healthy skepticism of reports or certificates issued by any but the industry leaders in diamond grading. Topping the charts with a powerful lead is the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), founded in 1931.

Credited with establishing “the standard for diamond grading and gemological identification” {3}, the GIA measures and their accompanying terminology now serve as industry standard for gemological grading around the world. While individual laboratories may measure each category by a slightly different standard or add their own unique categories, almost all diamond grading reports include the sections covered in a GIA report.

Trailing behind the GIA, but keeping steady pace are the American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI). The European Gemological Laboratories (EGL USA and EGL International) maintain a high reputation; however, their for-profit status does not afford a direct comparison with other industry leaders. At EraGem, we often acquire estate engagement rings featuring reports from each of these labs. We occasionally offer gemstone engagement rings featuring reports well as another reputable lab, the American Gem Trade Ass0ciation Laboratories (AGTA).

GIA Assurance

A GIA-graded diamond comes with the assurance of 50 years of experience which informs every statement made on the report. When reading a GIA Diamond Grading Report, you can rest assured that at the time of its examination the natural white diamond in question was a loose (unmounted) diamond without enhancements in the D-Z color range weighing greater than 0.15 carats, as GIA Diamond Grading Reports “are not issued for diamond synthetics, diamond simulants, mounted diamonds or those that have undergone unstable treatments, such as fracture filling or coating” {9}. If any stable treatments have been applied to the stone, these will be noted on the report. The GIA does offer grading of colored diamonds, synthetic diamonds, colored gemstones, and pearls. However, these reports are significantly different from their Diamond Grading Reports.

On a GIA Diamond Grading Report, you can expect to find a grade and/or comments in each of the following categories:

  • Shape & Cutting Style, the diamond’s shape as seen from above and its facet arrangement
  • Measurements with dimensions in millimeters
  • Carat Weight to the nearest hundredth of a carat
  • Cut, Color, and Clarity Grades (note: a cut grade is only available on round diamonds graded after January 1, 2006.)
  • Finish, a grade based on the diamonds surface and facet placement
  • Polish, a grade based on the overall smoothness of the diamond’s surface
  • Symmetry, which reports on the evenness of the diamond’s outline, as well as on the shape, alignment, and placement of a diamond’s facet in relation to one another
  • Fluorescence, the color and strength of color when the diamond is viewed under ultraviolet light
  • Comments, reserved for additional characteristics not covered by the above categories

A GIA Diamond Grading Report also includes a detailed Clarity Plot, which demonstrates the approximate size, type, and location of inclusions (internal flaws) and blemishes (external flaws) when viewed under a microscope. This is the fingerprint of your diamond.

The report will also include a Proportion Diagram, which gives details as to the depth, table size, girdle thickness, and the culet of your diamond. GIA reports also offer several security features, including a report number, a signature watermark, a hologram, a security screen, and microprint lines that prevent forgeries or duplication {10}.

Every GIA Diamond Grading Report includes a Color Scale and Cut Scale, so that you can visually see how your diamond compares to the GIA’s exact standards. Each report also includes a Key to Symbols, making it simple to read and understand your diamond’s report. The GIA offers detailed information on their website about the standards they use to measure each stone. At EraGem, we also offer detailed information on the four primary grading scales set forth by the GIA: Carat WeightCutClarity, and Color.

IGI, AGL, EGL, and AGTA Reports

International Gemological Institute (IGI)

The International Gemological Institute (IGI), founded in 1975, offers reports on diamonds and colored stones, as well as appraisals, diamond authentication, and information on gemstone origins {11}. IGI reports include all the same categories as the GIA reports, as well as a Clarity Scale and a Color Scale so you can see how your diamond measures against diamonds of varying clarity and color. They also include a security hologram, the IGI logo, and the date and location of the report.

American Gemological Laboratories (AGL)

American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) cites as their main focus the examination of colored gemstones. They warrant discussion here because a Google search on grading reports will net significant results for AGL. However, their reports are the least likely to resemble the GIA’s reports, as they relate only to colored gemstones. In addition to noting Shape, Weight, Clarity, Color, Measurements, and Cutting Grades, AGL reports also include mineral type and variety, origin, and enhancements.

European Gemological Laboratories-International (EGL-International)

European Gemological Laboratories (EGL) was established in 1974 in Belgium with a mission “to provide reliable and expert diamond grading, certification and appraisal services and protect the public interest” {7}. EGL expanded to North America in 1977, and in 1986, the two branches of EGL split completely. Today, they share only a name. EGL International operates in Europe, Asia, and Africa, while EGL USA offers services only in North America.

According to their website, EGL International employs gemologists who are also trained appraisers, offering a unique combination of services to protect the individuality and assess the approximate market and replacement values of your stone at the time of report. They operate as an independent lab, so they are paid by either the consumer or the retailer/wholesaler.

They also offer certificates for Conflict Free Diamonds, a verification that the diamond in question was “imported legally and from legitimate sources” in accordance with conditions set forth by the Diamond Controller Office and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses. In addition to the standard categories found on a GIA report, EGL-International also includes Chemical Vapor Deposition (the process of creating a synthetic diamond using a non-HPHT process), Hearts & Arrows (a special cut for round brilliants), Light Performance Grade, Synthetic Diamonds, Treated Diamonds, and the Diamond Type (based on the stone’s chemical structure).

European Gemological Laboratories USA

European Gemological Laboratories USA  provides “cutting-edge gemological research, testing, and laboratory analysis” {5}. As with the other labs mentioned, EGL-USA strives to provide protection for “the industry and its consumers” {5}. EGL USA is a for-profit entity, though they do not offer in-house appraisals. Rather, they send stones out to an independent affiliate, Universal Gemological Services (UGS), for market and replacement value assessments. An EGL USA diamond report includes all the categories found in the GIA’s reports, including a plotting diagram.

American Gem Trade Association Laboratories (AGTA)

The American Gem Trade Association Laboratories (AGTA) at one time had a special laboratory in New York devoted to the analysis of colored gemstones. However, as a result of high operating costs in New York and the economic slowdown, the Gemological Testing Center was closed down in 2009 {1}. Since the AGTA closed their lab only 4 years ago, some of their reports may continue to circulate for the next couple of years. Again, AGTA’s primary focus was colored gemstones and soon their reports will become outdated. Industry standard recommends updating reports every 5 years.

What Does a Diamond Grading Report Tell You About Your Diamond?

The primary purpose of a diamond grading report is to independently establish a diamond’s unique characteristics and to assess them according to the industry standards for all diamonds. A detailed report by a reputable gemological testing laboratory provides a way to verify that the stone you’re looking at is as good as the seller claims. It will also define and explain “the parameters that influence the true value of your diamond” {6}.

Diamonds are valued scientifically by their specific characteristics, most of which are unseen to the naked eye. With a report from an unbiased laboratory, you do not have to rely on your own examination or the claims of retailers who may represent their interests fairly.

The differences between diamonds are subtle, often even invisible to the untrained eye. However, a slight difference in carat weight, color, clarity, or facet placement can make a big difference in market value. While a diamond grading report does not speak to value in and of itself, it does provide a standard measure of the individual diamond which can be used to compare it equally to other diamonds of the same size and cut. With such information at hand, a trained jeweler or wholesaler can determine a more accurate measure of its value.

As Frank Fisher writes, “The Diamond Grading Report firmly establishes the diamond’s quality leaving no room for misrepresentation of diamond quality by the seller” {8}. By consulting a Diamond Grading Report, you can be certain that you are not paying “a price that does not relate to the actual value of the diamond” {4}.

As you can see, diamond grading reports from a reputable lab offer an assurance that no one else can give you when purchasing a stone. Buying a diamond represents a symbol of your affection as well as an investment in your future. At EraGem, we encourage you to learn all that you can about the diamond grading process. Knowledge is power, especially in the diamond and jewelry industry. We salute you for taking the time to learn more about Diamond Grading Reports and the ways you can ensure that the diamond you purchase is the diamond that best represents your taste and your budget.

Bibliography

  1. “AGTA GTC Closure.” Gem Addicts, July 31, 2009. http://gemaddicts.com/?p=149.
  2. American Gemological Laboratories (AGL). “The Prestige Report.” Accessed October 11, 2013. http://aglgemlab.com/the-prestige-report/.
  3. Blue Nile. “Diamond Education: GIA Diamond Grading Report.” Accessed October 11, 2013. http://www.bluenile.com/diamonds/diamond-cut/diamond-cut-grading/gia-diamond-grading-report.
  4. Diamond Registry. “Grading Reports: Understanding a GIA Grading Report.” Accessed October 11, 2013. http://www.diamondregistry.com/education_grade.htm.
  5. EGL USA. “About EGL USA.” Accessed October 31, 2013. http://www.eglusa.com/about/.
  6. EGL International. “Diamond Certification.” Accessed October 31, 2013. http://www.eglinternational.org/diamond-certification-0.
  7. EGL International. “EGL International.” Accessed October 31, 2013. http://www.eglinternational.org/egl-international.
  8. Fisher, Frank. “6 Commong Myths About Diamond Grading Reports,” Find My Rock Blog, September 21, 2012. http://findmyrock.com/2012/09/21/6-common-myths-about-diamond-grading-reports/.
  9. GIA. “GIA Grading & Reports: Diamond Reports.” Accessed October 11, 2013. http://gia4cs.gia.edu/en-us/gr-diamond-report.htm.
  10. GIA. “GIA Grading & Reports: Why Ask for a GIA Grading Report?” Accessed October 11, 2013. http://gia4cs.gia.edu/en-us/gr-why-gia-diamond-grading-report.htm.
  11. International Gemological Institute. “About IGI.” Accessed October 31, 2013. http://www.igi-usa.com/igi_about.htm.
  12. International Gemological Institute. “Identification Report.” Accessed October 31, 2013. http://www.igi-usa.com/images/identificationreport.jpg.
  13. International Gemological Institute. “IGI’s Grading Standards.” Accessed October 31, 2013. http://www.igi-usa.com/igi_diamondreport.htm.
  14. Pricescope. “Diamond Grading Report.” Accessed October 11, 2013. http://www.pricescope.com/wiki/diamonds/diamond-grading-report.
  15. San Diego Jewelry Buyers. “Understanding a Diamond Grading Report.” Accessed October 11, 2013. http://www.sandiegojewelrybuyers.com/understanding-a-diamond-grading-report/.
  16. Whiteflash. “What is a ‘Diamond Grading Report’?” Accessed October 11, 2013. http://www.whiteflash.com/about-diamonds/tips-and-advice/how-to-read-and-understand.htm.
  17. Zoara. “How to Read a Diamond Grading Report.” Accessed October 11, 2013. http://www.zoara.com/diamonds/how_to_read_report.

 

 

Designer Spotlight: Stardust Engagement Rings

Photo © EraGem*

Photo © EraGem

The central stone of this designer engagement ring, a 2-carat, radiant-cut, GIA-certified E/VS2 natural white diamond, commands the full attention of anyone in line of sight. Accented by four equally dazzling pear-shaped brilliants rest snugly along the shoulders of this gorgeous platinum ring. Made in the USA by Stardust Designs, this contemporary engagement ring is the perfect blend of breathtaking beauty and classic elegance.

The sensational diamond draws the eye with its mesmerizing beauty and holds it captive, while its pavilion setting creates a side profile of understated elegance. This ring is the perfect choice for a woman who favors a neutral palette for business attire and black-and-white for evening wear. This one striking ornament against the warm browns, cool grays, and distinguished blacks will convey classic style and elegance.

Stardust Designs has operated out of Los Angeles for the past 7 years. Their Hill Street storefront faces a row of stately palm trees which line Pershing Square, a historical park which serves as the overground adornment of an underground parking garage.

Designer Spotlight: Simon G

Simon G Emerald-Cut Sapphire Engagement Ring

 

A dazzling 1.05-carat blue sapphire takes center stage in this magnificent designer engagement ring. The bold rectangular lines of the stone are echoed by the architectural design of the ring’s shank, where four emerald-cut white diamonds grace the shank. With a rock like this on her finger, your bride will thank Simon G for making her the talk of the town.

Indeed, Simon G prides himself on pouring every ounce of passion he has into every single jewel he makes. Especially when it comes to engagement and bridal jewelry, the LA-based designer knows that history will be indelibly marked when his handiwork is slipped upon the finger of an expectant, but hopefully unsuspecting woman.

As you gaze upon the clarity and beauty of this amazing jewel, you will find it easy to imagine the painstaking care Simon G takes with his work. First, he alloys his own metals, ensuring maximum durability and longevity. Second, he chooses only the highest quality gemstones, sourcing all of his diamonds from Belgium, Israel, and India. Finally, he hand draws every design, infusing each one with old world techniques, intricate details, and nothing short of perfect attention to detail.

Indeed, Simon G declares, “If you want jewelry that gets stared at, you can’t afford to overlook anything.” So with every Simon G piece, you know you are staring at perfection. His value for excellence and his aim to create a legacy were instilled in him as a young boy in Beirut. His hope is that the people who wear his jewelry will find as much joy and pleasure in the wearing as he did when he designed it.

If your bride is a woman who appreciates the finer things, embraces her individuality, and wants her ring to make a statement, then you can’t go wrong with this stunning Simon G ring.

The History and Characteristics of Invisible Settings

Invisible Set Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

This solid platinum estate engagement ring features a stunning 1-carat central round brilliant diamond set in a gorgeous four-prong mounting. Along the shank, 24 princess-cut diamonds are embedded side-by-side in an invisible setting.

Developed in France in the mid-1800s, the invisible setting gives the appearance of a floating gemstone mosaic. Set side by side, the stones are notched by expert jewelers and snapped into place within a wire framework hidden beneath the surface of the mounting. The effect is dazzling, as the light is free to emit greater radiance across unhindered stones.

In 1933, Van Cleef & Arpels, the famed Paris maison, patented their exclusive invisible setting, called the Mystery Setting™. The Mystery Setting™ is most often used to create daring color, with sapphires, rubies, and emeralds set in VC&A’s larger showstopping pieces, such as in their beautiful flower brooches, stunning necklaces and bracelets, and ornate earrings.

In bridal jewelry, the invisible setting is used in two ways. First, as seen in the pictured engagement ring, as a sensational way to showcase princess- or baguette-cut accent stones. Second, the invisible setting allows several smaller diamonds to appear as one large diamond, as seen in this lovely diamond and yellow sapphire halo ring.

Invisible settings are one of the most difficult mountings to make, and they are one of the most susceptible to potential loss of stones. The delicacy of this mounting makes it a poor choice for brides who work regularly with tools or heavy equipment. You will want to remove an invisible set ring before working in the garden, doing heavy housework, or using tools, especially hammers. If your stones do loosen or pop out, be sure to choose an expert jeweler with experience in invisible settings to examine and repair your ring.

Of course, it is this same delicacy that makes an invisible set engagement ring a most stunning choice for the bride who wants sophisticated lines and lots of sparkle. Be sure that you purchase your ring from a reputable dealer in engagement rings, and examine it carefully with your fingers. The surface should be smooth and even. If there are any rough surfaces or if any of the stones are uneven, keep looking. Your perfect engagement ring will be able to withstand the tests of time, so don’t settle for poor construction.

This Striking Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring is Ideal for a Woman of Distinction

Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring in Platinum

An elegant solid platinum band featuring two triangle-cut diamonds suspended in four-prong mountings serves as a throne for this breathtaking GIA-certified D/VVS2, 1.37-carat Princess Cut diamond. The minimalist platinum and diamond setting, combined with a near-perfect diamond, ensures that this matchless engagement ring is ideal for a woman of distinction.

Rivaling the fashionable Round Brilliant Cut in popularity, the distinctive Princess Cut features either 57 or 76 facets carefully positioned to elicit an inverted pyramid profile. From the top, a Princess Cut diamond appears as a beveled square or rectangle.

Compared with typical square diamond cuts, the Princess Cut allows maximum light dispersion, eliciting dazzling brilliance, masking inclusions, and preserving more of the original rough stone. This makes it a favorite among diamond cutters, and a prize among women.

Several cuts serve as predecessors for the modern Princess Cut. In 1961, the cut now known as the Profile Cut was introduced by London diamond cutter, Arpad Nagy. In 1971, South African lapidary Basil Watermeyer perfected a square cut with rounded corners called the Barion, while Perlman, Ambar and Itzokowitz were busy developing the Quadrillion, a similar style featuring 49 facets.

In 1979, following intensive optical research, Perlman, Ambar and Itzokowitz perfected the Princess Cut as we know it today (patented as the Square Modified Brilliant). With its sleek modern lines, it is no wonder that this compelling alternative to Round Brilliant solitaire stones has made its mark in contemporary high fashion.

This Diamond and Sapphire Engagement Ring is a Stunning Example of Art Deco Filigree

Art Deco Filigree Diamond Engagement Ring

This magnificent Art Deco engagement ring features three 2.5mm Old European cut diamonds in a vertical line accented by 10 single-cut genuine diamonds and eight French square-cut synthetic blue sapphires in a geometric shape characteristic of the Art Deco style. The neck and shoulders of its solid 18k white gold band are carved in intricate filigree.

From the Latin words for ‘thread’ (filum) and ‘seed’ (granum), the term filigree refers to thread-like wires of precious metal twisted, shaped, and soldered into delicate sculptured lines. Dating back to the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians, filigree is an Old-World technique which requires hours of intensive hand labor by skilled artisans in precious metals.

The use of filigree in jewelry has come in and out of favor for the past 5000 years, with its heaviest revivals falling in the Byzantine, Renaissance, and Edwardian periods. The Edwardian Era of jewelry overlapped with two important and distinctive movements in the arts, the Arts & Crafts Movement and the Art Nouveau Movement.

Both movements emphasized a return to excellence in hand craftsmanship and a revival of ancient techniques in the arts, including a heavy-handed use of filigree. Where the Arts & Crafts Movement found its optimal medium in decorative arts and textiles, the Art Nouveau principles lent themselves most favorably to the intricacies of jewelry design.

Though made during the same time period, Edwardian and Art Nouveau are distinctly different, though they share elements in common, such as the use of filigree to create ornate settings for beautiful gemstones. The Edwardian and Art Nouveau jewelry periods came to an abrupt end at the start of World War I in 1914, when industry turned sharply toward military manufacture and precious metals were smelted down to make war machines and armaments.

As the post-war economy slowly recovered in the early 1920s, a new jewelry style emerged. Called Art Deco, this new style favored straight lines and angles, sometimes connected with symmetrical arcs, patterned after the mighty machines of the time–airplanes, trains, and automobiles.  Though the sensuous lines of the Art Nouveau period were replaced with geometric shapes, as seen in this magnificent antique engagement ring, Art Deco jewelers maintained the Edwardian and Art Nouveau use of filigree in many of their beautiful designs.

Antique engagement rings are popular among royalty and celebrities alike

Antique engagement rings are popular among royalty and celebrities alikeSince the Royal Wedding, all eyes have been on Kate Middleton and the antique rings, skirt suits and shoes she's worn while out in public. However, a new woman of royalty may soon be stealing some of the attention away from Middleton – Princess Madeleine of Sweden.

Recently, the princess announced that she has finally gotten engaged to her "soulmate," Chris O'Neill, a U.S. financier. Princess Madeleine told People Magazine that the two had been engaged for almost a month before announcing it in front of the royal court. The princess and O'Neill have been seeing each other for about two years.

"I appreciate Chris for his warmth and his humor," Madeleine told the news source. "He has a very big heart and he manages to make everyone in his presence feel good. Christopher is a very thoughtful and generous person."

There's no doubt that the princess has quite the sparkler on her finger, being from a line of royalty. However, jewelry buyers can find similar priceless rings through estate sales and auctions. At these events, valuables that can no longer be found at traditional vendors often come up for sale.