How to choose the perfect antique engagement ring

14 Mar 2016

As engagement season reaches fever pitch, online auction site Catawiki looks at the growing trend for antique rings and how to make the perfect choice 

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Image gallery

In springtime thoughts turn to romance…

Research shows 40 per cent of all proposals happen between December and February* and Europe’s fastest growing online auction site Catawiki, has reported a spike in bids on antique rings.

Antique rings offer something a little different, often with a story attached for that one-of-a-kind bride. However, with so much choice, navigating the swathes of engagement rings may seem like a formidable task for those grooms-to-be with an untrained eye.

Deborah Mazza, gemologist and specialist auctioneer at Catawiki says: Over the past decade, there has been a significant shift in what people look for when choosing an engagement ring. Trends have moved away from the traditional solitaire style ring found in high-street stores and people are looking for something more out of the ordinary, which is why vintage rings have become so popular.

“But it pays to do your research when choosing vintage, and to ensure that your bride-to-be won’t be disappointed, go for a ring vetted by a certified gemologist, as they will be able to guarantee the quality and provenance of the ring. The rest is down to personal choice.”


However, the world of antique engagement rings can feel daunting due to the sheer variety out there. With this in mind, Catawiki and Deborah Mazza have compiled a guide on the top-selling antique styles for grooms-to-be:

If the bride-to-be likes colour, a Victorian engagement ring could prove to be a winning choice. The Victorians often used coloured gemstones including garnets, emeralds and sapphires, so rings from this time period are a great choice when looking for an alternative to the classic diamond solitaire.

Deborah Mazza says:Traditionally, when going for a coloured gemstone, people have tended to opt for a sapphire engagement ring due to its hard-wearing properties, and Kate Middleton setting the trend.

“For those looking for something unusual but still with colour and durability, I would suggest looking for a ruby. Rubies have an excellent hardness, second only to diamond – and at a fraction of the price it’s no wonder we’ve seen a real demand for ruby rings.”

Art nouveau
The antithesis to the simplicity of a traditional solitaire, art nouveau rings have a very distinctive style and are guaranteed to satisfy the tastes of a woman who likes to make a statement with her jewellery. Dating back to the late 19th century, art nouveau style is famed for intricate detailed designs and flowing curves, making it a bold choice for brides.

Art nouveau rings are very distinctive and with many of the designs dating back over a century, they carry a lot of history and have an element of romanticism to them. Often featuring numerous coloured stones in a delicate but intricate style, these unusual designs have regained popularity when it comes to engagement rings as women look for something more unique.”

Art deco
The art deco movement first gained popularity in the 1920s and the designs are typified by bold and geometric styles and angles, which break away from the flowing styles of the previous era.

Art deco jewellery has a seen a revival in popularity and vintage engagement rings of this style are very much in vogue. With films such as The Great Gatsby reigniting the trend for 1920s glamour, I’ve seen a real interest in rings from this period.” 

Antique Tiffany & Co
And for some women, when only the best will do, look no further than a vintage Tiffany & Co. The crème de la crème of diamonds, Tiffany & Co has been making engagement rings since 1837 and while they often tend to be quite classic in style, by buying vintage you are guaranteed to get a style that feels less ‘off the shelf’ and also signifies a slice of history.

When bidding on a Tiffany ring, always look for a certificate of authenticity and buy through a reputable auction house, as expert auctioneers will have examined them carefully, giving you peace of mind with your purchase.”

*According to a Chillisauce survey (link to: of 10,000 people published November 2015 

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