Vintage clothing, jewelry and automobiles have been the rage for eons, and the trend shows no signs of waning. So it’s no surprise that vintage wedding bands and their reproductions are making a splash with today’s brides.
“Most vintage and antique rings are timeless and will last through all of the trends,” said Jennifer Ganda, manager of Craig Evan Small Estate Jewelry, a Los Angeles boutique that has been selling antique and estate jewelry for 17 years. She pointed out that prospective buyers should know the difference between vintage (20 years or older) and antique (50 years or older in the U.S., 100 years or older worldwide).
Rings that have held up for 50 — even 100 years — have clearly been made to last. “Just like the greatest architecture, the greatest jewelry ever made was created prior to 1940,” said Douglas Kazanjian, CEO of Kazanjian Bros., a 93-year-old four-generation jeweler in Beverly Hills. “That kind of craftsmanship ended with the war,” he said, explaining that around that time it was becoming less prestigious to work with one’s hands.
But craftsmanship isn’t the only reason to love a vintage wedding band.
Alison Larmon of Los Angeles chose a 1920s Tiffany & Co. platinum wedding band with French cut diamonds for her wedding ring. “I went into Neil Lane Jewelry [in Los Angeles] to look for a ring and was drawn to an antique band because it was so different and understated,” she said. The ring had long ago been engraved with a wedding date and initials. Larmon loved it, calling it “incredibly romantic.”
A vintage ring can be a natural way to incorporate a family heirloom into your celebration, “whether it’s your grandmother’s engagement ring or just a family stone incorporated into a new ring,” said Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine.
Antique and vintage bands can be found wherever estate jewelry is sold, including in the Los Angeles area at Neil Lane, Craig Evan Small and Claude Morady Jewelry. Estate sales, jewelry auctions and antique stores are another good place to look. Some jewelers, like Kazankian Bros., sell estate rings alongside new merchandise.
“It’s wonderful to be able to look at your ring every day and not only remember your wedding day, but also the history of your ring and what it meant to those who wore it before you,” Miller said.
Larmon chose her ring based on emotion and instinct, but there are a few other criteria worth considering.
First, there is the choice of metal: Platinum, white gold, yellow gold or rose gold. Kazanjian noted that while platinum is the most popular, rose gold is trending now. “It’s warmer and a bit more romantic,” he said.
Styles correspond to specific eras. Victorian rings, those crafted between the mid-1830s and 1900, are romantic and ornate – usually made of yellow or rose gold. Edwardian rings, made from 1900 to 1920, were often made of platinum and had feminine, lacy and filigree designs. Art Deco rings, produced between 1920 and 1935, are clean and streamlined with geometric lines, mostly made of platinum and white gold, and sometimes include stones such as emeralds, sapphires and rubies.
“Of all the eras, the clean, streamlined and geometric shapes of the Art Deco period are the most enduring style,” Kazanjian said. “Rings from that period are perfect today because they reflect the trend to be less flashy and more classic.”
Though a bride may have a certain type of ring in mind, there’s still the matter of finding the right fit. “It’s tough to size antique bands,” Kazanjian said. “It’s wonderful when someone is a perfect fit.”
Vintage and antique rings, as a general rule, are usually too fragile to size effectively. If diamonds encircle the piece, it may be impossible to adjust the size at all.
Miller noted that many jewelry designers today are creating vintage-inspired rings. “Bringing in the more traditional gold and rose gold precious metals, colored stones like emeralds and sapphires, and molds that replicate those of past decades, such as the Art Deco designs of the ’20s and ’30s, these rings are made to look and feel like they belonged to your ancestors.”
Vintage wedding bands are refined, elegant and beautiful; and like you, they have a story to tell. “Marriages lasted forever back then,” Ganda said, “so wearing a ring from that time can only bring good luck.”
—Jennifer Evans Gardner, Custom Publishing Writer