Vintage Diamond Ring Buying Guide

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Vintage Diamond Ring Buying Guide

A vintage diamond ring is a stylish and timeless piece of jewellery. There is something heart warming and romantic in knowing that someone else once wore this jewellery and likely, someone in love. Whether purchasing a vintage diamond ring as a gift or for an engagement, it is important to be informed on what types of things to look for in the diamond. Identifying the difference between a new diamond and a vintage diamond is helpful in ensuring a smart purchase. Other things to consider are the commonly known four C's of diamonds (cut, clarity, colour, and carat weight), whether a ring is vintage, antique, or both, and finally, which particular design era the ring is from.

Buyers are able to purchase vintage diamond rings from jewellery stores, private jewellers, or diamond dealers. Online, eBay has an extensive selection of vintage diamond rings to choose from. The selection includes different shapes, cuts, and even periods and eras to choose from.

Vintage Designs

While an antique ring is a ring which is more than 50 years old, a vintage ring is usually referring to a particular style or design of a ring. A ring can be over 50 years old and have the styling of a certain time period, which makes it both antique and vintage. There are a number of different styles which characterise a ring in certain era, and there are time periods and names for those styles. 

Georgian Ring

A Georgian ring was a style which was popular from 1714 to the 1830s. During this time, diamond resources were limited and therefore designs began to get more creative. Open facets, natural themes, and intricate shapes all played a part in the styling. Focus was on the getting the most sparkle, fire, and brilliance out of the diamond.

Victorian Ring

Victorian rings were big in the time between 1837 and 1901. This type of ring was defined by Queen Victoria. She had a great love for diamonds and this led to a revolution in diamond rings. This era was separated into three distinct times, all of which have their own design and history: Early Victorian period, Mid-Victorian period, and Late Victorian period. The major changes during these times include the introduction of lower carat gold alloys. Gold was mainly 22 carats and 18 carats up until then, after that, it was created in 15 carats, 12 carats, and 9 carats. The other important change was the opening of the South African diamond mines, which provided larger diamonds.

Art Nouveau Ring

Between the years of 1890 and 1915 was an era which started a creative movement. Rings during this time were defined by their flowing symmetry, circular swirls and loops, and their feminine designs. Nature was a big inspiration for the designs. Art Nouveau rings are often highly considered as they are known for their workmanship and distinctive style.

Edwardian Ring

This era lasted between 1901 and 1910. This design had a light, airy feeling which was not only found in jewellery but also in the clothing and furniture designs of this time. In this era the filigree ring was created. The style at this time was becoming more sophisticated and refined. Colourful gemstones were used along with diamonds to make up the settings for these types of rings. Most had lace-like effects and flower-like themes.

Art Deco Ring

The Art Deco ring was created and popular between 1915 and 1935. These rings are highly prized as well as high in demand. The jewellery from this time period reflected the times as there was growing optimism, expanded social freedoms, and modern technological developments. Sometimes more specifically dated between 1920 and 1930, the designs were becoming more daring by combining geometric patterns and lines with natural themes and shapes. This was the 'flapper' era, a time for travel, exploration, and discovering new horizons.

Retro Ring

Often a favourite with vintage and antique jewellery, the retro ring was popular during the years from 1935 to 1945. This style was created during the hectic times of World War II. The main influences on this design were the 'War Effort', Hollywood, the post-Depression recovery, and women's entry into the workforce. The retro ring is a combination of static Art Deco and free flowing styles as seen in the Edwardian era. The defining style of this time period was symmetry meets asymmetry.

The Four C's of Diamonds

There are a number characteristics of a diamond to consider when purchasing, and the most important are the four C's. The four C's are cut, clarity, colour and carat weight. These are the criteria which jewellers take into consideration when grading a diamond.

Cut

The cut of a diamond is not to be confused with the shape of a diamond. The cut is the metric used to evaluate the precision and quality of the overall cutting itself. Proportion, symmetry, and polish are the three criteria for the cut of a diamond.

Proportion

Symmetry

Polish

How light reflects through the diamond; should reflect from one facet to another and shine through the top of the stone, if so, the diamond is cut to a proper proportion; light escapes the diamond if the cut is too deep or too shallow

Pertains to how uniform each facet is cut; all facets should look the same in comparison with very little difference

Measurement of the surface texture or finish; if the texture of a surface is rough, it does not allow for the maximum transition of light through the facets; a high grading for polish is not detectible to the naked eye

The above chart describes the three criteria for the cut of a diamond. Potential vintage diamond ring buyers should consider this specific criteria when making their buying decisions.

Cut Grades

Though buyers need to consider proportion, symmetry, and polish of a vintage diamond, they should also consider the specific cut grade of the diamond. There are several different cut grades. In order to make a good selection when purchasing a vintage diamond ring, it is important to understand the various grades.

Ideal Cut

Premium

Very Good

Good

Fair and Poor

Applies to a round diamond only and meant to maximise the brilliance of a diamond; allows for a great dispersion of sparkle, and is the best money buys

Can be equal to ideal cut, but purchased at a lower price; maximum brilliance and 'fire' are intended in a premium grade diamond

Cut to allow for a larger diamond; reflects most light which enters and creates good amount of brilliance and is usually slightly lower in price compared to a premium diamond

Creates the largest possible diamond for the original rough crystal; reflects a good amount of light and is usually a good cost-saving option

Usually reflects only a small amount of light; cut only to maximise carat weight

The above chart describes the five different cut grades available in a diamond. Though the descriptions are explanatory, sometimes cuts may differ from diamond to diamond.

Clarity

The clarity of a diamond is measured by the amount of flaws that the diamond has. Flaws in a diamond are characterised by inclusions and blemishes of the diamond. Inclusions are any flaws which are within the diamond, including bubbles, cracks, and non-diamond minerals found within the diamond. Blemishes are any surface flaws of the diamond. Polish lines, grain boundaries, pits, chips, and nicks are all examples of blemishes.

A diamond with no flaws or impurities is the highest quality diamond that buyers can get. If it is flawless, then nothing interferes with the light that passes through the diamond, allowing for maximum brilliance. The chart below outlines the different grades for the clarity of a diamond.

Category

FL

IF

VVS1  VVS2

VS1

VS2

SI1

 SI2

I1

I2

I3

Clarity Grading Scale

Flawless

Internally Flawless

Very Very Slight Inclusions

Very Slight Inclusions

Slight Inclusions

Imperfect

To determine clarity grading, a diamond is observed through 10x magnification with darkfield illumination with an ultraviolet light filtered overhead light. The base of the stone is lit from the side, while the crown of the stone is shielded from the light.

Colour

When referring to the colour of a diamond, it usually means the presence or absence of colour in white diamonds. A colourless diamond allows for more light to shine through and also allows for more sparkle. Therefore, the whiter the diamond is in colour, the greater its value is.

The grading scale for the colour of a diamond ranges from totally colourless to light yellow. The differences are usually very subtle and difficult to distinguish. The scale goes from a grade of D to a grade of Z. A diamond with a grade of D through F means that it is colourless and perfect or almost a perfect colour. A diamond which is graded G through J is near colourless and therefore a good to a very good colour. Finally, a diamond graded K through M is light, but with a noticeable yellow or brown tint. This kind of diamond is usually not recommended for use in engagement rings.

Carat Weight

Diamonds are measured in carats. For example, when one carat is divided into 100 'points', that is therefore a diamond of 75 points which weighs 0.75 carats. The carat weight of a diamond is the most apparent factor in determining what a diamond is worth. At the same time, if there are two diamonds with the same carat weight, they do not always have the same value, as one may be higher quality than the other. This is the reason there are grading scales set for the different diamond characteristics. Alternatively, two diamonds of the same weight may be different sizes. This is based on how the diamond is cut and how small or large the depth is. Since the carat weight is so important, buyers searching for a vintage diamond ring should consider the carat weight.

How to Buy a Vintage Diamond Ring on eBay

A vintage diamond ring is an important purchase and therefore buyers should have a good selection to choose from. eBay is the perfect online resource for you to use, as it has an extensive array of vintage diamond rings to browse through. It is an easy search, starting on the eBay homepage and by simply typing descriptive keywords into the search bar. Once you are taken to the search results, you can then use the categories menu to narrow down your search details. For example, if you specify your budget range to only include affordable options, you will get results which you are most looking for. You should have no trouble finding the most beautiful vintage diamond ring through eBay. 

A great tool to use on eBay before making any purchase is the seller information and feedback. All eBay customers are encouraged to leave feedback after every experience. This is a great way to ensure that you are making a good decision, then you know you are getting what you pay for. Seller information and feedback also assists you in getting any return information, just in case the item is not quite what you were looking for.

Conclusion

A diamond ring alone is a beautiful accessory, but a vintage diamond ring is not only an accessory but something which holds a story. Being connected to a vintage jewellery piece allows for a certain nostalgia which can be passed down to other generations, creating a family tradition. Knowing which era each vintage style comes from and the history behind it ties the buyer to the ring. Keeping in mind what to look for when purchasing a vintage diamond ring gives peace of mind that it is indeed a smart buy.

Important information regarding grading of cut, clarity, and colour, as well as the carat weight of a diamond are steps in making the final decision on which vintage diamond ring to go with. A vintage diamond ring can be thought of as a piece of wearable art, as the intricate designs and styles of that time are oftentimes hard to find. Choosing a vintage diamond ring over a newer design helps to make the piece of jewellery different from what anyone else may have.

 
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