Category Archives: Vintage 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.

Go Retro-Vintage with a 1950s Engagement Ring

Capture the Essence! of Retro-Vintage with this 1950s Engagement Ring in Platinum and Diamonds. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Retro-Vintage with this 1950s Engagement Ring in Platinum and Diamonds. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Retro meets vintage with 1950s engagement ring styles. The 1950s marked the beginning of Mid-Century Jewelry Design, with its turn toward the flashy and opulent. With style icons exuding the elegance of Grace Kelley’s and the freshness of Audrey Hepburn, the first decade of the mid-century marks the time when glamour reached its apex.

Even the normally conservative bridal industry threw open the curtains to let in a little flair. Diamonds dominated the scene, and a trend toward clustered arrangements afforded the most bling for your buck.

The round brilliant was beginning to outshine the transitional and Old Euro cuts of the previous decades, though a fair number of these romantic cuts remained in circulation. For the opulently wealthy diamonds surrounded diamonds, while those of lesser means chose the illusion setting, a style in which a demure diamond is surrounded by a series of architectural facets carved directly into the metal.

Yellow gold once again fell out of favor, as white gold and platinum resumed their position of dominance. When yellow gold was used, it was typically topped with platinum or white gold so as to maximize the reflection of the diamonds.

Although 1950s engagement ring bands remained fairly discreet, their shoulders grew in size to accommodate the extra bling factor. Halos of single-cut diamonds surrounded stunning central stones, and small bead-set Old Euro cut diamonds edged the tops of the shoulders. It was fairly rare to see a band without accent stones of some kind.

If your sweetheart is a glamour girl with the style and sophistication of Hollywood’s most celebrated movie stars, may we recommend a perusal of our vintage 1950s engagement rings?

We invite you to visit our vintage engagement rings page, or give us a call if you’d like to view them in person.

Shopping for a Vintage Engagement Ring? Look to the 1940s!

Capture the Essence! of 1940s Vintage with this 18k Gold and Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of 1940s Vintage with this 18k Gold and Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Once again, decadence returned to fashion in the 1940s. Glamour neared its peak, with the faces of Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Bette Davis leading the pack. The jewelry industry took a turn back toward yellow gold, and diamonds were en vogue for engagement rings.

As with nearly every decade, bridal jewelry erred on the conservative side, with modest and largely plain bands and classic diamond cuts. Platinum continued to hold a place on the wedding scene, though yellow gold most definitely dominated.

The round brilliant cut was making more of an impression, though the more traditional (at the time) transitional and Old Euro cuts continued to hold their own. Blue sapphires and rubies maintained a slight presence on the scene, though the diamond was definitely king of the 1940s.

Are you shopping for a lady that exudes class, sophistication, and a touch of decadent elegance?

Then look no further than EraGem’s 1940s vintage engagement ringsGive us a call today, so we can outfit you with a dreamy ring for your proposal!

Shopping for a Vintage Engagement Ring? Look to the 1930s!

Capture the Essence! of 1930s Vintage with this Diamond and Platinum Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of 1930s Vintage with this Diamond and Platinum Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Are you drawn to the sophisticated styles of such mavens of fashion as Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford, or Norma Shearer?

Well, you’re in luck, because we have a number of beautiful vintage engagement rings that drip with 1930s glam.

As the decadence and extravagance of the 1920s gave way to the sensuality and sophistication of the 1930s, jewelry design turned toward more classic understated styles. Engagement rings from this period, while lending a nod to the architectural lines of Art Deco jewelry, became more streamlined, developing swiftly into what we now call the classic look. The gemstones of choice were white diamonds and blue sapphires.

Most brides-to-be wore a ring with a modest center stone, typically an Old Euro Cut diamond, an oval-cut or cushion-cut blue sapphire, or a transitional-cut diamond. Although solitaires were popular, a fair portion of 1930s engagement rings were decorated with a variety of accent stones,  typically single-cut, transitional-cut, or baguette diamonds.

On occasion, the Art Deco trend of using small triangular-cut or baguette blue sapphires carried over in a small number of early 1930s engagement rings. Platinum and white gold were the metals of choice, and often these simple simple tapering bands were embellished with filigree.

We would love to show you our selection of 1930s vintage engagement rings in person. Just drop us a line to schedule an appointment.

Spotlight on Design: Jabel Jewelry

Vintage Solitaire Engagement Ring by Jabel Jewelry. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Vintage Solitaire Engagement Ring by Jabel Jewelry. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Wrought during the 1940s by Jabel Ring Company, one of New Jersey’s finest establishments, this beautiful vintage engagement ring features a .59-carat Old European cut diamond, set in a white gold head, mounted on a solid 14k yellow gold shank . This beautiful ring, bearing only light wear after 70 years, demonstrates the rigor and precision Jabel applies to every piece of jewelry they create.

Founded in 1916 by J.J. Abelson, Jabel Jewelry swiftly rose to the top, luxuriating among other such notables as Henry Blank, Meyer and Gross, and Krementz {3}. Mr. Abelson established his reputation with the unique die-striking process still in use today, as well as by promoting a standard of excellence that remains a hallmark of the company’s continued success.

At Jabel, it all begins with PRESSURE! Just as pressure plays a key role in the formation of precious metals and gemstones beneath the earth’s surface, so Jabel understands that pressure plays an important role in preparing the perfect settings for these precious gifts of nature.

Artisans begin with bar of alloyed metals created in Jabel’s factory. Extreme pressure is then applied to the bar as it passes through a series of heavy metal rollers. The result is a “metal ribbon that is non-porous, solid, homogenous and uniformly strong” {2}.

This solid metal ribbon is then placed between two die plates mounted on a press. These presses apply extreme forces to cut, squeeze, and hammer the metal into various desired shapes. These presses can exert as much as 50 tons of striking force.

Each individual component, sometimes as many as 50 per ring, is created with a series of repeated pressurized blows which “[compress] the molecules and [force] the metal into every crevice of the die” {1}. This allows for precise detailing of every aspect of a finished ring, ensuring high-quality jewelry with increased density and durability.

Once each piece has been formed, skilled artisans assemble the rings by hand. The timelessness of Jabel’s designs and process are evident in the fact that this ring, created in the 1940s, remains as enduring in both beauty and function as it was on the day it was made.

The exquisite quality of Jabel workmanship is best seen in person. We invite you to make an appointment to view this ring in our Seattle-area showroom.

Notes

  1. Antique Jewelry University. “Die Struck.” Accessed March 5, 2014. http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Die_Struck.
  2. Fillie, Melissa. “Roll and Strike! Die Struck Jewelry,” Jabel Die Struck Jewelry Blog, August 16, 2013.
  3. Helmreich, William B. The Enduring Community: The Jews of Newark and MetroWest. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1999, p. 78.

Vintage Estate Engagement Rings Offer a Wide Range of Benefits

Get the Look! with this Vintage Old Mine Cut Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo © 2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Look Right Here! at this Vintage Old Mine Cut Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo © 2014 EraGem Jewelry.

All the trends are pointing to vintage engagement rings in 2014. With a wide range of options from the ever-popular 1920s, 1950s, and 1960s, vintage rings offer an equally wide range of benefits for brides-to-be.

Authentic vintage rings offer the eco-friendly bride an option to purchase a previously-owned estate piece. These estate jewels often come with the allure of mystery and possible intrigue. Each one has a story locked inside, possibly more than one.

Did the woman who wore this ring find true and lasting love?

Or was she given the ring before losing her man to the horrors of war? Was this all she had left of the man she loved?

And why is she now selling it? Did she pass in the night, leaving behind a mountain of debt? Will the sale of this ring relieve her family’s financial sufferings?

Add to these romantic notions the beauty of vintage rings, and you begin to quickly see how these one-of-a-kind beauties offer the future bride. These rings are often set with diamonds cut in the Old Mine or Old European style, romantic precursors to the modern Round Brilliant so popular in today’s rings.

Many vintage estate engagement rings are fashioned out of platinum with exquisite millegrain or filigree embellishments on the bands. Furthermore, rings made before the 1940s are most likely hand crafted, which makes them absolutely unique even if multiples of the same style were made.

Also, for brides on a budget, estate engagement rings often offer a large selection of high-quality diamond engagement rings for a fraction of the price of a brand new ring. We invite you to browse our beautiful selection of estate engagement rings to see if the ring of your dreams is waiting for you here.

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.

Gabrielle Union Shares How Dwayne Wade Proposed

Antique Solitaire Engagement Ring from the 1930s. Photo © 2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Look Right Here! at this Antique Solitaire Engagement Ring from the 1930s. Photo © 2014 EraGem Jewelry

Celebrities hold their rings close to their hearts. It can be weeks, sometimes months before the media captures the flashing sparkle of a diamond or the glint of gold on the ring finger of a new celebrity bride-to-be.

And if you think it’s hard to catch a glimpse of the ring, learning just how he proposed is harder still. As newly-engaged supermodel Behati Prinsloo told What’s the Buzz?, “That’s the only part of him that I have that nobody else has” {cited}.

Thankfully, as time goes by these beautiful, excited women usually choose a special moment to slide their hand out from beneath their sleeves or from behind their folded coats. And with a flash and a post, we get to see just what style of engagement ring of our favorite star has chosen.

Soon after, buoyed by the celebratory good wishes from adoring fans on Facebook and Twitter, these excited brides-in-waiting often let slip a detail here, a detail there about the big day when he placed that ring on her finger.

That day has yet to come for Behati Prinsloo, whose fiance Adam Levine placed a 1930s vintage diamond ring with a large Euro cut diamond on her finger last summer. There is, however, at least one newly-engaged celebrity who has opened up about her big moment.

Gabrielle Union shared how her fiance, Miami Heat player Dwayne Wade, with his sons Zaire and Zion, planned a surprise for her at the construction site of their new home. Apparently, it was fairly routine for the two young boys to pester Gabrielle about when she was going to marry them.

So, when the boys hollered out to her, holding a sign which read Will you marry us?, she quickly turned to Dwayne, hoping to commiserate with him over their childishness. Imagine her astonishment to find him kneeling before her on a yoga block. The kids came running as soon as she said, “Of course!” {cited}

Ms. Union proudly wears her 8.5-carat cushion-cut diamond and platinum engagement ring.

Waddington’s Jewelry Auction Offers a Glimpse Into the Past

18k White Gold Filigree Ring. Photo Credit: Waddington's.
18k White Gold Filigree Ring. Photo Credit: Waddington’s.

This week Waddington’s auction house in Canada offers a glimpse of the past and a wonderful opportunity for new and established collectors to purchase a piece of history at a reasonable price. The listings for their September 11 sale include several antique pieces, in particular two pieces of mourning jewelry made in France.

One is a silver oval miniature portrait brooch with an ornate flower border studded with marcasites. The border frames a fading picture of a woman and was most likely made in the early 20th century, when marcasite was widely used as a substitute for diamonds.

The second is a 14k gold finger ring with a sealed compartment engraved with the ornate initials, ‘IMO’. A multitude of similar ‘In Memory Of’ jewels were made in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to commemorate loved ones lost to illness or war. Often, locks of hair belonging to the deceased loved one were secreted away in the compartments, sometimes with a picture.

The sale features several more antique pieces, including a 9k gold hinged bracelet with a central line of halved pearls and the above pictured filigree ring. Although the hinged bracelet has definitely seen some wear, it is a gorgeous antique jewel which likely dates to some time during the Victorian era.

The filigree ring features 19k and 18k yellow and white gold, old mine-cut diamonds, and a large blue composite stone. This ring resembles those from the Belle Epoque era, though there is no date listed. It is a beautiful piece, though there do appear to be some surface scratches on the stone and the description mentions that 12 stones have been removed and one of the stones is an imitation diamond.

Waddington’s also offers several lots from Birks, including one of their signature sterling silver ring boxes, a solitaire diamond engagement ring by Toni Cavelti for Birks, and a gorgeous Ladies Challenger Wristwatch fashioned in platinum and set with 20 small single-cut diamonds.

Birks is recognized as one of Canada’s leading jewelry designers and manufacturers. The firm was established in 1879 by Henry Birks (1840-1928), an enterprising man whose dedication to quality, craftsmanship, and integrity ensured not only his own personal success, but the continuing success of his heirs. Mr. Birks has left an indelible mark on the entrepreneurial spirit of Montreal and has lead the Canadian jewelry industry for over 130 years.

Buying Birks, whether a new piece, a vintage piece, or an antique piece, is a sure way to own a slice of history. This generous collection of Birks jewels offered by Waddington’s affords a new or beginning collector the opportunity of a lifetime. One piece in particular, a demure solitaire engagement ring designed by Toni Cavelti, offers a double-dose of good fortune for collectors.

Toni Cavelti is an esteemed Canadian designer who fell in love with jewelry at 11 years of age. He began his internship at 15, and within four years had established himself as a talented goldsmith and designer. Mr. Cavelti has allowed his artistic style to change and mature over the years, learning and drawing inspiration from all the experiences and wonderful people he’s met throughout his lifetime.

His partnership with Birks began in 1999, when sold the firm to the esteemed firm and traded his set of tools for a consulting hat. He designed and consulted for Birks until 2008, and his designs are still available today. Now, in his retirement, Mr. Cavelti has taken up wire crafting, a hobby that requires very basic tools and materials which he can take in a small bag with him wherever he goes.

“I spent fifty years of my life making jewellery. I made jewellery for famous people [including the Queen of England], but mainly for people such [as] you and I. I enjoyed working with beautiful metals, gold and platinum and never lost my excitement [for] creating a home for a rare, natural gemstone. I shared my knowledge with apprentices who taught me a few things in return. It was a good and creative part of my life.” {cited}

Who would not want to own a jewel endowed with so much history, excellence, and artistry? It can be yours in two days when you place your bid in Waddington’s Jewellery & Watch Auction on September 11, 2013. For more information, we invite you to visit their website.

Gypsy Settings: Popular Among Men Since the 1880s

Vintage Mens Gypsy Set Diamond Wedding Band

 

The brilliant diamond in this 1940s vintage mens wedding band is mounted in a classic gypsy setting, complete with the star-shaped engravings typical of 19th century “gypsy rings”.

To make a gypsy setting, a goldsmith first drills a precisely calibrated hole into the band of the ring. He then presses the gemstone into the hole up to its girdle. After taping the stone and mounting to protect them, he rims the stone with a ring of molten metal and gently taps around the stone at 12 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and 3 o’clock.

He continues tapping gently at these points until the metal firmly hugs the stone, which appears nearly flush with the mounting at this point. As the metal begins to harden, he may use a chisel to add the star-shaped design flourishes. This was common practice for gypsy rings at the turn of the 20th century.

The gypsy setting is one of the most secure settings for gemstones. As such, it has been favored by men since its inception in the late 1880s. According to an 1884 issue of the Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review, while the gypsy ring had been in fashion among men for quite some time, ladies were beginning to wear them in the quintessential Victorian three-ring fashion:

“Gypsy rings, with the stones deeply imbedded in the gold, which were originally intended only for gentlemen, are now as often chosen by ladies. As a whole, these are not so massive as those worn by gentlemen. They are rounded bands of gold and may have a ruby, sapphire, cat’s-eye or any other stone in the center with a diamond on each side. The stones are so buried in the gold that only the surface shows.” {1}

At this same time a new trend was emerging, one so novel that it was called odd in the same issue of the Jewelers’ Circular. “Rings of hammered platina* with a brilliant diamond in gypsy setting are odd looking, as the metal resembles silver somewhat.” {2} Since yellow gold was still the fashion of the day, platina was most definitely out of place.

As time progressed, both white gold and platinum became widely used for crafting rings for both men and women. What once appeared odd became highly fashionable and remains so to this day. With the resurgence in popularity of antique and vintage engagement rings, the gypsy setting proves a wise and fashionable choice in wedding jewelry, especially for men.

The classic lines of the design, long associated with masculinity, offer a sophisticated way for men to include a little dazzle in their wedding bands. And the security afforded by the gypsy setting makes it an ideal choice for men who use their hands a lot, especially if their work requires the use of tools or heavy equipment.

How about it, men? Would you choose a gypsy set wedding band?

*Platina is a native alloy of platinum with paladium, iridium, osmium, etc.

Notes
1. “Cause and Effect.” The Jewelers’ Circular and Horological Review, Volume 15, No. 1 New York, February, 1884, p. 4.
2. Ibid., p.