At Nicholsons Jewellers, vintage rings have always been a popular jewellery purchase among those who adore all things antique and vintage. Not surprising really, given the vast range of designs that have been seen since vintage times. Today many brides-to-be appreciate the sense of tradition and history that comes with a vintage engagement ring and look forward to taking that history into their own future, not to mention the value for money represented by a vintage ring when compared with new.
Of the many things to take into consideration when buying a vintage ring, the most important is condition. Check that the claws or settings are not worn, also check that the band hasn't worn away over the years. Reputable jewellers will not sell a vintage ring in poor, worn-out condition but will have renovated it before offering the ring for sale. At Nicholsons Jewellers we have our own o-site workshop and so, for us, renovation does not present any problem. However, sometimes the ring is in such poor condition that it would be too expensive to renovate and the diamond can be reset into a design representative of the period.
Not all vintage jewellery was hallmarked as it hasn't always been a legal requirement so do feel free to ask the jeweller what carat the metal tests as. Any professional jewellery can test the fineness of the metal using a jeweller's testing kit. Many lovely vintage engagement rings do not have a hallmark but this is not reason to let it slip through your fingers (forgive the pun!) as your jeweller should be perfectly happy to provide a fully descriptive valuation for your vintage ring purchase. When a ring has a full hallmark from an assay office, then the hallmark will state the fineness of the metal and also give a date letter.
Of course, in vintage times many ladies lived a more refined lifestyle; no gardening or popping off the gym or tennis club, so they could afford to have engagement rings set with "softer" stones such as emeralds, pearls, opals, etc. Our more active lifestyles are no reason to avoid these lovely gemstones in vintage rings but we must bear in mind their relative delicate nature and remove our rings when doing the housework or washing-up and so on. Also many stones, such as coral and turquoise, can change colour over many years and this colour change should not be regarded as a drawback but a feature of vintage jewellery. If you don't like the idea of having different shades of a stone in your vintage engagement ring, then stick to diamonds! Diamonds are the hardest of all gemstones and are not affected by the grease in our skin and are very easy to clean - just a little washing up liquid in warm water and a very gentle wipe over with an old toothbrush, taking care not to pull those claws.
Keep your vintage engagement ring insured and have up-to-date valuations undertaken for that purpose. We would always advise "all risk, worldwide" and to have your vintage ring photographed.
Do your research about the many different styles of ring, try them on an see how they look on your hand. Stick to a reputable jeweller with a good range of vintage rings to choose from and - happy shopping!
NICHOLSONS JEWELLERS: How to Buy a Vintage Ring
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19 February 2013
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