10 Unique Vintage Engagement Rings Over 10 Decades, 1870s-1960s

unusual vintage engagement rings

Did you know engagement season is nearly upon us? Over Christmas and the New Year is the most popular time to get engaged. You may notice an influx of announcements in your Facebook feed.

In the spirit of engagement season, I put together this gallery of unique engagement rings from the 1870s-1960s, some are even still for sale (for any of you folks on the hunt for a ring). It’s interesting to see how ring styles have changed over the years, but to be fair, whenever I saw an especially unusual vintage ring, I went with that. So we’re not always looking at the most typical representatives of the decade.

Let’s go!

1870s

.91 Carat Antique Victorian Cluster Engagement Ring, circa 1875

We’ve got an Old Mine Cushion cut diamond at the center of this Victorian ring. I’ve noticed a lot of rosette style rings from this time period. In fact, you’re going to see another in just a minute!

1870s vintage engagement ring

1880s

.50 Carat Victorian Gold and Black Enamel Engagement Ring, circa 1880

The buttercup setting this Old European diamond sits in is common for the Victorian period. But the black enamel etchings seems unusual to me for a ring that appears intended as an engagement ring from the start.

1880s vintage engagement ring

1890s

1890s 14k Rose Gold & Diamond Ring

These Old Mine diamonds are set in a navette style ring, which refers to the oblong “boat-like” shape that was popular during Victorian times, though the space around the center diamond strikes me as unusual.

1890s vintage engagement ring1900s

1.10 Carat Diamond Edwardian Cluster Ring, circa 1900

And now that we’re in Edwardian times, we have our first platinum piece. This is a take on the rosette ring, like we saw in the very first photo, but it has softer, rounder look. Still, there’s a definite chunky quality to the metalwork of these earlier rings.

1900s vintage engagement ring

1910s

Alice Pearl and Diamond Vintage Engagement Ring, circa 1910

We continue the platinum trend — we’re on the tail-end of Edwardian times here — but this time with pearls circled by European cut diamonds. It’s a very feminine style before we move into a more angular period.

1910s vintage engagement ring

1920s

1920s Art Deco Engagement Ring

During the Art Deco period, jewelry had a geometric quality to it, much like the architecture of the time. Here, we have a diamond set in white gold offset with sapphires, which were popular accent stones at the time.

1920s vintage engagement ring

1930s

1.20 Carat Vintage Diamond Engagement Ring, circa 1930

We’re back to platinum now with an Old European diamond and lots of delicate filigree.

1930s vintage engagement ring

1940s

1940s Floral Two-Tone Diamond Solitaire

Solitaires were common during this time period when World War II was taking place but the ornate whimsical, etched band less so. Platinum was hard to come by at this time, so it’s no surprise that the band is gold. Another tidbit I’ve noticed during this time period: lot’s of round diamonds in settings that make them appear square-ish.

1940s vintage engagement ring

1950s

1950s White Gold Diamond Engagement Ring and Wedding Band

The diamond at the center of this ring is 0.18 carats. In fact, I noticed a lot of illusion settings, with heavy metal around the diamond to make the diamond appear bigger than it is, during my research on the 50s.

1950s  vintage engagement ring

1960s

1960s Vintage Antique Diamond Yellow Gold Cluster Engagement Ring

This big, bold ring felt very 60s to me. Liz Taylor’s giant 33-carat asscher-cut diamond ring from Richard Burton helped usher in a big bling period during this time period.

1960s vintage engagement ring
Which is your favorite?

Match up the rings to the wedding dress styles with my look at brides from the 1870s-1960s. And here’s a fun look at the most expensive engagement rings throughout history.

You can find these rings (plus lots of other lovely vintage jewelry) at Erstwhile Jewelry, Excalibur Jewelry, Turtle Love, Stone Fox BrideErica WeinerSITFineJewelry & DiamondAddiction.

It's good etiquette to share what you like!

6 Comments

  1. Martina

    I have my grandmother’s ring, which was reset in the ’40s into one of those round stone in a square settings. It’s called a “magic head” setting.

    • Retroette

      What a wonderful heirloom, Martina. I had never heard the term “magic head” setting but am happy to know of it now!

  2. Thanks for the post! I’ve always loved vintage engagement rings. In my opinion, older engagement rings were done right. I love how they’re glamorous and simple without being too flashy. My favorite ring in these pictures is the 1940s floral two-tone diamond solitaire. I love the floral design around the band with the small round diamond in the middle. The design of the band with a smaller diamond is so classy and elegant.

    • Retroette

      Thanks for weighing in, Deanna! I favor vintage rings myself — my own engagement ring is based on a vintage design. I like your choice of the 40s ring. I always love a nicely etched band!

    • Retroette

      Hi Mindy, I was doing this as a style guide for different decades, not as a purchasing guide. Not all the rings are available for purchase. However, if you click through on the links to the original source for each, they’ll tell you if they’re available and if so, how much they cost.

Leave a Comment