Vintage filigree diamond engagement rings like this one from Blue Nile are extremely popular. However, it can be difficult and frustrating to find antique rings in good condition. As one of our clients points out:
"My girlfriend wants a vintage filigree diamond engagement ring. We're willing to buy online or from a local jewelry store. Thus far, the process is frustrating because most of the vintage rings exhibit heavy signs of wear."
"To our dismay and horror, there have even been chips on several of the center stones! Many of the rings exhibit what I consider to be extensive signs of wear and tear."
"Most of the rings have dents, dings, and scratches, some of them also exhibit signs of repairs. One local jeweler proposed refurbishing a vintage ring so that it looks new."
The Vintage Engagement Ring Quest Continues:
"It took a few hours for that concept to sink in... Imagine paying a small fortune for an antique ring and then having to pay to restore it. That is not really a concept that I find appealing."
"Is it possible to get the look of an antique style engagement ring without the wear and tear? Where would you go to buy a vintage filigree diamond ring?"
"Do you know anybody who sells vintage filigree style settings that are in good condition? One possibility that we're considering is to buy just the vintage setting because we recognize that modern diamonds offer better light return."
"Is all of this too much to ask? It seems like we're stuck in the classic Catch 22 scenario. Perhaps you could also suggest some options for something in the range of 1.00 - 1.20 carats, G+ color, VS-2 clarity, or higher? Thanks."
As a matter of fact, there are plenty of new vintage engagement ring styles to choose from. For example, the vintage filigree engagement ring from James Allen on the left reflects that vintage style and the peace of mind that comes with a new ring.
The Vintage Filigree Diamond Ring Buying Guide:
It can be a real challenge to find a vintage filigree diamond engagement ring that is in good condition. Consequently, one of the problems with buying anything used is that you never really know what you're getting.
In fact, it's quite common to find chips around the girdle edge of the center stone. Plus, it seems like the diamond grading reports are always severely out of date or non-existent.
On a positive note, it does seem like vintage style jewelry is experiencing a modern-day revival. Popular jewelry designers like James Allen offer extensive selections of vintage style engagement rings.
One of my favorite designs is this Vintage Style Filigree Engagement Ring from James Allen. This ring will accommodate a round diamond weighing between 0.30 - 1.50 carats. Of course, it's available in white gold, rose gold, yellow gold, and platinum.
Vintage vs Modern Engagement Rings:
Needless to say that you can find some incredibly beautiful vintage filigree style diamond engagement rings. Unfortunately, many of them will contain center stones that are worse for the wear.
In other words, the edge of the diamonds may be chipped, or there may be other signs of damage like bruising. The latter of which is caused when diamonds rub against each other, like after being tossed in a box.
Consequently, most of the vintage jewelry that I've seen only looks good at first glance. As a matter of fact, most vintage jewelry requires extensive repair before it can be worn.
Did I say extensive? Perhaps I should say "expensive" because it can cost a small fortune to refurbish or repair vintage jewelry.
Should You Buy A Used Ring?
In most cases, it is probably more cost-effective to custom design a new engagement ring from scratch. Although that may be true, some people like the provenance of a well-known piece.
Be that as it may, I prefer modern reproductions of vintage filigree style jewelry because the designs are more symmetrical. Until quite recently, the majority of jewelry designs were hand-carved from chunks of wax.
Carving rings out of wax by hand makes it practically impossible to create a truly symmetrical design. As a result, it always seems like one half of the ring looks slightly different from the other.
Needless to say that this is not an issue with modern replicas created using Computer-Aided Design. For example, take this bezel vintage filigree style engagement ring from Brian Gavin.
Improving Vintage Ring Designs Using CAD:
In the first place, most modern versions of vintage style jewelry are created using Computer-Aided Design. That's because CAD produces engagement ring designs that are more symmetrical.
For example, notice how the two sides of this vintage filigree style ring by James Allen look even. This ring incorporates a mix of vintage filigree style elements, such as the cage work and the outline. However, it also combines elements of vintage design with a touch of modern-day flair.
In case you're wondering, practically anything is possible using CAD to design jewelry. As a matter of fact, it is the best way to custom design your ring whether you prefer vintage or modern styles. Under those circumstances, the advantages of choosing a vintage style ring created using CAD are practically endless.
Not the least of which is that your vintage filigree style ring will be symmetrical in design and shape. But also, the ring structure is sturdier and you don't have to worry about oxidation or metal failure.
Vintage Style Ring from James Allen (side profile):
The photograph below shows the vintage filigree style engagement ring by James Allen from the side profile. While that seems rather obvious, my earlier reference about oxidation and metal stress might not have been. Although that may be true, those conditions are something that plague people who buy vintage jewelry.
In fact, did you know that the alloys used to make jewelry oxidize over time? It's true because the chemicals that our skin release cause a redox reaction with the other metals mixed with gold and platinum.
Speaking of chemicals mixing with our skin, a lot of vintage jewelry is held together by old solder that is not lead-free! Be sure to avoid buying vintage jewelry with visible solder lines because the solder may contain lead.
The advantages to buying a vintage style ring with origins in CAD are practically endless. However, some of the most obvious benefits will be the symmetrical shape, lack of metal stress, and no oxidation because that means no worries.
Vintage vs Modern Diamond Performance:
In case you haven't guessed by now, I can be kind of blunt. With that in mind, I'm going to come right out and say it. I'm not a fan of vintage diamonds for several reasons. In the first place, Old World Diamonds simply can't compete in terms of light performance.
For one thing, they were cut to perform under completely different lighting conditions. In other words, there are substantial differences in the types of lighting that we use to illuminate our lives today. Consequently, the majority of lighting situations that you're going to encounter are going to be diffused light.
That means that most of the time you're going to be looking at your diamond under broad-spectrum lighting. Under this type of lighting, most vintage diamond cuts look flat, dull, and lifeless.
That's because vintage diamond cuts were designed to perform well under the pin-fire lighting conditions. Like those created by candlelight and firelight, whereas we live and work under completely different light sources. For that reason, Old European Cut [OEC] diamonds, for example, tend to feature:
As a matter of fact, this cutting style is perfect for the pin-fire lighting conditions of yesteryear. However, it fails to perform in this modern age where diffused lighting is more common. Consequently, the dramatic changes in how we illuminate our world became the driving force of improvements in diamond design.
Tolkowsky Ideal Cut Diamond Design:
As a matter of fact, the transition from firelight to electric light was one of the driving factors for Marcel Tolkowsky’s Diamond Design. His works that were published in 1919, paved the way for the development of the modern round brilliant cut diamond.
Be that as it may, the development of the Tolkowsky Ideal Cut Diamond took many more years to come to fruition. In that case, the progression of diamond design includes the following characteristics:
Consequently, the crown section of the diamond now accounts for about one-third of the total depth of a round brilliant cut diamond. Whereas the pavilion section accounts for approximately two-thirds of the total depth.
These changes completely alter the overall look and visual performance of vintage and modern diamonds. In the first place, the diamonds look different in terms of the size and intensity of the sparkle. At the same time, the volume of light return is also clearly evident to the most casual of observers.
In addition, if you rock or tilt one of the older diamonds back and forth, you’ll see that they exhibit different patterns of contrast brilliance. That is not to say that one look is preferable to another, only that they are completely different. In that case, it’s good to know the differences because they’re like night and day.
Best Diamonds For This Vintage Style Ring from James Allen:
In the event that you’re looking for the best performance for this ring from James Allen, here are my recommendations:
Why These Diamonds Rock:
In the first place, these diamonds have proportions within the range I recommend. That would be the middle of the spectrum designated as the ideal cut rating. In addition, they exhibit a nice pattern of hearts and arrows.
Consequently, that means that the diamonds were polished to a higher degree of optical precision. That is the consistency of facet shape, size, and alignment from the perspective of 360-degrees.
In turn, this will produce more virtual facets within the diamond. Those are the kaleidoscope-like reflections that are created by the overlapping facet pattern. In that case, the sparkle factor will be bolder, brighter, and more intense.
Needless to say that these diamonds will perform well in practically every lighting environment. In fact, the pavilion angle on these diamonds should produce a high volume of light return. While the crown angle should produce a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
In other words, these diamonds will exhibit a virtual balance of white and colored sparkle/fire. Obviously, this is the way to go if you really want a spectacular looking vintage filigree style ring.
Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds (the ultimate in performance):
Remember earlier when I was talking about Marcel Tolkowsky and the progression of diamond design? Well, now we’re going to skip forward from 1919 to the mid-1990s because that’s about how long it took for somebody to do something different.
As a matter of fact, that is when Hearts & Arrows diamonds like the ones above first entered the scene. Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds is the next generation in the cycle of innovation.
In fact, they represent the pinnacle of diamond cutting today and the sparkle factor is nothing short of spectacular. Consequently, I can actually see the virtual facets in these diamonds without magnification.
As a matter of fact, I get goosebumps every time I look at one. That is why we selected a Black by Brian Gavin Diamond for my son’s engagement ring.
Not only is Brian Gavin a fifth-generation diamond cutter. But, he is also the only one with a patent for maximizing light performance in the modern round brilliant cut diamond.
Now, think about that for a minute.
Brian Gavin developed a process for maximizing light performance that is patented because it is unique. That literally means that there is nothing else like it.
In that case, I recommend you buy this 1.131 carat, F-color, VS-2 clarity, Black by Brian Gavin Diamond. Because it’s literally going to blow everything else away.
Need help choosing the best diamond for your ring?
Take advantage of our free Diamond Concierge Service! Submit the form and tell us about the diamond you seek. We’ll use our industry resources to help you find the best diamond available. Be sure to specify:
Obviously, you don’t need to specify a range of proportions because we specialize in the niche of light performance. In other words, we’re going to rely on the tight range of proportions that we’ve relied on for 35+ years. After all, they’ve proven to deliver the best results time and time again.