Shop the look: Deco Ring, Diamond Deco Ring, Deco Gemstone Ring in Mint Kyanite and Diamond
It's time for a history lesson, but the fun kind about jewels and gems. Here's whats's on the syllabus: we're breaking down what "vintage" and "antique" actually mean and showing you some of the most popular vintage and antique jewelry trends by era, plus how to achieve the look with vintage inspired modern day jewels.
What Makes Something Vintage or Antique?
As it turns out, "vintage" doesn't just mean old. There are some differing opinions on what constitutes a vintage item, but it's most commonly agreed upon that to be "vintage" something must be at least 20 years old, whereas to be considered a true "antique," an item must be at least 100 years old. When talking about jewelry that's inspired by historic design, the terms vintage and antique are sometimes interchanged. For the purposes of simplicity, we'll consider "vintage inspired" jewelry to refer to any design that's inspired by trends from 20 plus years ago.
We're starting off strong with one of the oldest jewelry trends of all time: signet rings. Signet rings have regained popularity during various eras throughout history, but they've been around since ancient times. The mark of a signet rings is a large, usually flat center that is often engraved or set with gems. As historian Emily Stoehrer in an article for National Jeweler explains: "They were really used as a signature would be used today, as a way of leaving your mark and a way of assuring authenticity. You could mark a document with them, you could leave an impression in wax or clay.” Although signet rings no longer have the same purpose, modern signet rings still tend to hold special meanings and have historic energy.
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Shop the look: Birth Flower Signet Ring
The Victorian era is named after Queen Victoria herself, so it's no surprise that the monarch had a huge impact on the trends of this age. One of the biggest Victorian jewelry trends was snake jewelry, brought upon by Queen Victoria's love of this symbol representing eternal love. Her engagement ring given by Prince Albert was in the shape of a snake set with rubies, diamonds, and emeralds. Not only did this engagement ring start the trend of serpent jewelry; it also started the tradition of engagement rings as we know it today.
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Shop the look: Viper Ring
Beginning after the reign of Queen Victoria, the Edwardian Era is named after King Edward VII and one thing these rulers had in common was their impact on jewelry trends. King Edward's wife Queen Alexandra loved flowers, and so Edward had jewelers craft pieces for her with this in mind. This led to the trend of daisy rings, which feature a cluster of gems in a floral inspired setting with one stone at the center and anywhere from 5 or more stones surrounding to create the look of petals.
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Shop the look: London Blue Topaz and Opal Picasso's Sunflower Ring
Early 20th Century
The start of the 20th century marked a departure from emulating royalty and an independence in thought and design, ushering in the Art Deco style. Art Deco was the new, modern design movement that traded romantic and ornamental flourishes for geometric lines that mimicked architecture. One of the most popular gem cuts in Art Deco jewelry is the emerald cut, which features structured lines matching the linear design of the jewelry. The clean lines of the Art Deco style are just as popular today as ever.