National Proposal day is May 20th, which falls on a Sunday this year. If you have been looking for the right way to propose, or the right ring to do it with, this guide is for you! If "the one" still hasn't popped the question, but you're confident its right around the corner, now is the time to decide what type of ring fits your personal style. Trying to find the perfect unique engagement ring that matches her beauty and style, is practical enough for every-day wear, and fits your budget can be a challenge. The first decision to make is whether you want a vintage engagement ring, or a modern one. Today we want to talk about vintage and antique engagement rings.
Vintage 14k Yellow and Rose Gold Diamond ring available at Kamaaina Metals & Jewelry
Many people do not realize that traditional engagement or promise ring was not always diamond in nature. Love tokens were given in the form of rings as early as 2000 BC, according to the Roman playwright Plautus. The practice of exchanging wedding rings was originally a Roman tradition that was then "Christianized" by the 4th Century AD. It wasn't until 1477 that the diamond engagement ring as we know it came into being. This was the year that the Emperor Maximilian I gave his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy a diamond engagement ring. The ring goes down in history as the first instance of a Royal diamond engagement ring and it fueled a Europe-wide trend soon after.
Victorian Wedding band from England Cir. 1848 - come down to see this and more at KMJ's Jewelry Museum
Some two hundred years before the birth of the diamond engagement ring, the tradition of engagement rings as we currently know it arose in the medieval era, when, in 1215, Pope Innocent III instituted a mandatory waiting period from engagement to marriage creating a real period of “engagement.” Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds and Diamonds were all used in rings of betrothal in the 14th - 15th centuries.
14k Diamond and Sapphire Ring Available at Kamaaina Metals & Jewelry
From the 13th century on, Sapphires were the popular gemstone of choice. It was said the intense blue color of a sapphire would change or fade if worn by one's betrothed with impure thoughts. The Crusaders often pledged their intentions with sapphire engagement rings before their travels to test the purity of their fiancees, or as a gift once they returned as proof of their wife's fidelity. Sapphires were most favored because they were believed to promote love, truth, and commitment.
Ruby and Diamond Platinum Estate Ring - Available for purchase at Kamaaina Metals & Jewelry
Rubies were considered a symbol of trust and uniqueness, as well as being known as the "Stone of Nobility". This is because every ruby has it's own unique radiance and color. Some believe in the properties it has to bring light, contentment and peace to the wearer. In fact, legend has it the ruby is capable of indicating and reconciling lover's quarrels. According to the tale the stone will darken to indicate a rocky relationship and then assist in bringing them closer together.
14k White Gold Emerald and Diamond Necklace Available at Kamaaina Metals & Jewelry
Emeralds stood for youthfulness and the permanence of love in a relationship. It was said that it was extremely good luck for a bride to wear an emerald down the isle, or to receive one as a wedding gift. Their entrancing green to green-blue colors were said to bring a magical calmness over the wearer. And in fact this has been proven by scientists who have discovered that the reason why Emeralds can bring such tranquility is because their rich green hues are easier on our eyes. In ancient Egyptian times Emeralds were believed to bring life and health to the wearer. Cleopatra was said to be very fond of emeralds, as she possessed a great emerald mine.
Vintage 18k White Gold Diamond Cocktail Ring Available at Kamaaina Metals & Jewelry
It's difficult to find something to say about Diamonds that hasn't already been said. Diamonds have enjoyed six centuries of popularity! After Maximilian's proposal in 1477, nearly every wealthy couple in Europe followed suit. The oldest diamond rings have contained Rose cut diamonds, not to be confused with the more faceted Old Mine cut, Old European cut, and Asscher cut diamonds. In order from oldest to newest, Rose-cut, Old Mine cut, Old European cut, and Asscher cut diamonds are now gaining momentum on the diamond market. It seems a flurry of modern designers are now replicating Victorian (late 1800s) and Edwardian (1900-1920) styles. While antique diamonds do not conform to the industry standards of a modern round brilliant diamond, their high crowns, wide facets, and small tables lend to it a special shine and twinkle that differs greatly from the high faceted diamonds of today. They are often said to have a softer more romantic glow than precision cut diamonds. In fact new diamond cuts Cushion and Royal Asscher have come out mimicking the cuts of yester-year.
D-E-A-R-E-S-T. Our designers can help you Customize your own Victorian Ring with plenty of gemstones to choose from!
In 1870 several new diamond mines were discovered which flooded the marked with diamonds making them less expensive and more accessible. It also had an adverse effect with the wealthy upper class who then turned to substituting the scarce and more expensive emerald, sapphire and ruby as their stone of choice. Gentlemen often crafted promise rings to their betrothed by using popular stones of the day to spell out sentiments or phrases. Lapis Lazuli, Amethyst, Vermarine, and Emerald would spell L-O-V-E. A more elaborate example would be D-E-A-R-E-S-T represented by Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Epidote, Sapphire, and Turquoise.
Here are a few ideas that are special, unique, and steeped in rich history and tradition:
14k Diamond Claddagh Jewelry - Available at Kamaaina Metals & Jewelry!
These rings, part of a group called "Fede" rings, date from Roman times, when the gesture of clasped hands was a symbol of pledging vows, and they were used as love and marriage rings in medieval and Renaissance Europe. They were popular through out western Europe. A Claddagh ring's unique design is comprised of a pair of hands (symbolizing friendship) clasping a heart (symbolizing love) surmounted by a crown (symbolizing loyalty). In Ireland these rings are passed down from mother to daughter throughout the generations. They can be worn four different ways, each representing a different status.
- On the right hand with the point of the heart at the fingertips, the wearer is single and looking for love. (This is most commonly the case when a young woman has first received the ring from a relative, unless she is already engaged).
- On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is in a relationship, or their heart has been "captured".
- On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips, the wearer is engaged.
- On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist, the wearer is married.
Regardless of whether it is a family heirloom or a gift from a friend or intended, a Claddagh ring is a touching and meaningful symbol of a relationship. It has stood the test of time and Claddagh rings are still worn and enjoyed in modern times.
Example of an antique Gimmel ring with diamonds, a ruby and enamel. Kamaaina Metals can help you design the perfect ring!
Also a part of the group called "Fede" rings, In the 16th and 17th centuries such rings were fashionable in England, Germany, and other countries, and were often used as betrothal rings. The engaged couple would wear one hoop each and rejoin them during the ceremony to use as a wedding ring. With triple link rings, a third person could witness the couple's vows and hold the third part of the ring until the marriage. This is the derivative of modern day puzzle rings. There is evidence of early Claddagh rings doubling as Gimmal rings, where the bride would have one hand, the groom, the other. At the ceremony the heart which the hands held would be given by the officiant to join the hands together in their complete form.
14k Latin Poesy Ring "I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine." Available at Kamaaina Metals & Jewelry
Popular during the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries in England and France as lovers' gifts, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England has an outstanding collection. These rings were simple gold bands engraved with a brief sentiment or poem on the outside. They were used as a lover's token, a wedding ring, or simply as a means of showing regard or giving a gift. Although these sentiments were originally on the outside, but during the late 16th century they began engraving them inside of the ring. Some examples of these darling Poesy enscriptions are: "faithles to none yet faithful to one", "Many are the starrs I see but in my eye no starr like thee", and "As love hath joyned our harts together, so none but death shall our harts sever".
Rare Natural Alexandrite Ring! Great color change! Come to Kamaaina Metals & Jewelry to see it in person!
In a market where the retail cost of diamond engagement and wedding ring only continues to soar, and men are told the expected cost of an engagement ring should total two months of their pay, a vintage or antique ring is a practical and affordable alternative. It allows the ability to pick out a beautiful diamond or gemstone ring which she will love and treasure to pass down to future generations as an heirloom. Whatever your choice, be it modern or antique, remember the most important promise that you make is not with a ring, but with your heart. With best wishes to all the hopeful soon-to-be grooms, and new brides to be, until next time!