At Refinery29 Australia, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but we may earn commission or other compensation from the links on this page.
Whether you haven’t the faintest idea what the 'Four Cs' means or you’ve already picked out the cut and colour of your perfect piece, shopping for an engagement ring is a daunting task. After all, the idea is to wear it forever. Ever since Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with his late mother Princess Diana's stunning sapphire engagement ring, vintage styles have been a major trend amongst brides-to-be. But the truth is that antique and vintage expensive rings can be hard to find, hard to maintain and expensive to boot. And since engagement ring prices can set you back a pretty penny at the best of times, the next best thing is vintage-inspired rings.
But apart from just picking what's cute, how do you know what to look for when trying to find the right kind of vintage-style ring? Ahead, here are some tips and tricks we've picked up with the help of Claire Hammon, co-founder of New Zealand-based jeweller Meadowlark.
Do your research
When you begin your vintage-inspired engagement ring search, it's important to get an idea of the variety that's out there. That way, even if you're not the most jewellery-savvy person, you can gain some insight into what calls to you.
And remember, as with clothes, there can be a difference between what you like the look of online and what actually feels right IRL. Even when going on your hunt, try to wear what you normally would so that you know what it will look like on your hand on a normal day.
Keep an eye on quality
While costume vintage-style rings can look the part, they won't last as long — and you want a piece that not only looks great now but will last you through the years.
For this reason, we recommend opting for high-quality materials like 18-carat gold or platinum. In terms of stones, you may come across a host of pristine gems, but not all are as durable as diamonds. Opals and pearls, in particular, are stunning and super on-trend, but they are also known to be more vulnerable to damage.
Don't shy away from colour
Remember that you might find a ring with a stone you don't love, but that's not a dealbreaker. You can always swap out the stone for something a little more 'you'. As Hammon tells us, eclectic hues are trending. "The mounting requests for coloured gemstones indicate a desire to express individual personality and style," she says. "The compositions tend to be traditional and timeless, but the customisation of the gemstones imbues the pieces with a unique mood.”
"These days we're seeing a lot of requests for alternative stones, including pink centre stones, and more recently, green sapphires that can vary dramatically in colour."
Shop our favourite vintage-inspired engagement rings
The good news is, there are plenty of options to shop for modern jewellery with an old romance feel, with many engagement ring brands creating beautiful antique-inspired treasures. Finding that vintage aesthetic can be as simple as opting for curved features, richer gem hues or milgrain detailing, a technique that creates a border of ‘tiny dots’ along the edges of a piece.