Vintage filigree engagement rings are more trendy than ever. However, finding antique rings in good condition can be difficult and frustrating. 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 vintage rings exhibit heavy signs of wear."
"To our dismay and horror, there have even been chips on several 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 to look new."
Vintage Filigree Engagement Rings Quest:
"It took a few hours for that concept to sink in... Imagine paying a small fortune for an antique ring and then paying to restore it. That is not 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 do you recommend buying vintage filigree engagement rings?"
"Do you know anybody who sells vintage filigree style settings in good condition? We're also considering buying a setting without a center stone because modern diamonds offer a 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 1.00 - 1.20 carats, G+ color, VS-2 clarity, or higher? Thanks."
There are plenty of vintage-inspired styles to choose from, such as this one from James Allen. Options like this provide the look of antique-style jewelry with the peace of mind that comes with new rings.
Be Careful Buying Vintage Filigree Engagement Rings:
It can be challenging to find vintage filigree engagement rings in good condition. Consequently, one of the problems with buying anything used is that you never really know what you're getting.
It's pretty common to find chips around the girdle edge of previously worn diamonds. In addition, the diamond grading reports are always severely out of date or non-existent.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. One of my favorite designs is this one from James Allen.
This ring will accommodate a round diamond weighing between 0.30 - 1.50 carats. 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 exquisite vintage filigree 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 contain chips, fractures, and bruising. The latter occurs 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. However, most vintage jewelry requires extensive repair to ensure continued use.
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?
It is probably more cost-effective to custom design a new engagement ring from scratch in most cases. Although that may be true, some people like the provenance of a well-known piece.
Other people prefer modern reproductions of vintage filigree-style jewelry because the designs are more symmetrical. Until quite recently, most jewelry designs were hand-carved from chunks of wax.
Carving rings out of wax by hand makes it practically impossible to create a genuinely 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:
First, most modern versions of vintage-style jewelry result from Computer-Aided Design. That's because CAD produces more symmetrical engagement ring designs.
For example, notice how the two sides of this vintage filigree-style ring by James Allen look even. This ring incorporates vintage filigree-style elements, such as the cage work and the outline.
However, it also combines vintage design elements with a touch of modern-day flair. Using CAD to design jewelry is fast and cost-efficient and encourages more creativity.
In that case, CAD is the best way to custom design your ring, whether you prefer vintage or modern styles. The advantages of choosing a vintage-style ring created using CAD are practically endless.
Not the least is that your vintage filigree style ring will be symmetrical in design and shape. The ring structure is also 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-style engagement ring by James Allen from the side profile. While that seems obvious, my earlier reference about oxidation and metal stress might not have been.
Consequently, metal stress is something that plagues people who buy vintage jewelry. Did you know that the alloys used to make jewelry oxidize over time?
It's true because the chemicals our skin releases cause a redox reaction with the other metals mixed with gold and platinum. Surprisingly, most vintage jewelry is held together by old solder that is not lead-free!
Avoid buying vintage jewelry with visible solder lines because the solder may contain lead. In contrast, newly manufactured vintage-inspired jewelry should be lead-free.
Vintage vs Modern Diamond Performance:
If you haven't guessed by now, I can be rather blunt. Thus, I will come right out and admit that I'm not a fan of vintage diamonds.
First, old-world diamonds can't compete in terms of light performance. Secondly, the proportions intend to perform under entirely different lighting conditions, specifically fire-light.
A pin-fire type light source differs substantially from the diffused lighting we live and work under today. Consequently, Brian Gavin holds the patent for maximizing light performance in the modern round brilliant.
Account for Lighting Conditions:
Older diamond cuts perform poorly in modern lighting because the proportions are optimized for a different light source. Most vintage diamonds look flat, dull, and lifeless under diffused lighting.
Once again, vintage diamonds were designed to perform under pin-fire lighting conditions like fire light. For that reason, characteristics of Old European Cut diamonds include:
The characteristics above are 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:
The transition from firelight to electric light was one of the driving factors for Marcel Tolkowsky’s Diamond Design. His works, published in 1919, paved the way for developing 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. At the same time, the pavilion section accounts for approximately two-thirds.
Vintage vs. Modern Performance:
The above changes alter vintage and modern diamonds' overall look and visual performance. First, the diamonds look different in terms of the size and intensity of the sparkle.
Simultaneously, the volume of light return is also clearly evident to the most casual of observers. If you rock or tilt an older diamond 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 entirely different. In that case, it's good to know the differences because they're like night and day.
Best Diamonds for Vintage Filigree Engagement Rings:
If you’re looking for the best performance for this ring from James Allen, here are my recommendations:
Why These Diamonds Rock:
First, these diamonds have proportions within the range we recommend. That represents the middle of the spectrum designated as the ideal cut rating.
The pavilion angle on these diamonds should produce a high volume of light return. At the same time, the crown angle creates a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.
These diamonds also exhibit a crisp and complete hearts and arrows pattern. That requires a higher degree of optical precision which is the consistency of facet shape, size, and alignment.
Better optical precision creates more virtual facets within the diamond. Those are the kaleidoscope-like reflections that the overlapping facet pattern creates.
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 other words, these diamonds exhibit a virtual balance of white and colored sparkle/fire. If you want a spectacular-looking vintage filigree-style ring, this is the way to go.
Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds:
Remember the part about Marcel Tolkowsky and the progression of diamond design? We’ll skip forward from 1919 to the mid-1990s because that’s how long it took for somebody to do something different.
That’s when Hearts & Arrows diamonds like the ones above first entered the scene. Fast forward another thirty years, and Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds is the next generation in the cycle of innovation.
They represent the pinnacle of diamond cutting today, and the sparkle factor is nothing short of spectacular. Consequently, I can see the virtual facets in these diamonds without magnification.
The Pinnacle of Diamond Cutting:
I get goosebumps every time I look at Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds, so we chose one 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 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. It’s going to blow everything else away.
Buying Vintage Filigree Engagement Rings:
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:
You don’t need to specify a range of proportions because we specialize in the niche of light performance. We’ll rely on the ratios we’ve relied on for 35+ years because they've proven to deliver the most consistent results.