We went with a different band, but this is my engagement ring

Some women get a little queasy about popping a worn ring on their finger, but I am not one of them.

When Mr. Illustrator and I were first tossing around the idea of marriage, we debated whether or not I should get a diamond engagement ring. Diamonds are over-priced and there are still problems ensuring that their sales aren’t fueling conflicts. But, I grew up seeing my mom’s diamond ring on her finger, and to me, it symbolized marriage. I didn’t want to fund war, but I still wanted a diamond

So, we decided on an antique ring, a partly ethical and a partly aesthetic choice. I love the look and craftsmanship of antique jewelry, and I liked the idea of reusing an heirloom. I knew our money was going to a family and a small business, not funding conflict or mining new metal and gems.

When Mr. Illustrator proposed, he surprised me with a stunning art deco ring from the 1930s that he stumbled across at a local jeweler. It’s exactly what I wanted, and I constantly get compliments on how unique it is.

Later I found out we got a lot for our money. Our appraiser let us know that remaking the same quality diamond and platinum ring today would cost three times more than what we paid for it. Like designer clothing at a consignment store, vintage engagement rings have already been worn once, so they can go for significantly less than new ones.

As for my ring, I chose not to know much about its previous owner, other than that it had been in the same family for all of its 75-year lifespan. I consider it my ring, but I still appreciate its history. I like to imagine that it already stood behind one long and happy marriage, and now it’s sending those good vibes my way.

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8 Responses to “{Real Bride: Katie F.} Saving With A Vintage Engagement Ring”

  1. Liz C.

    I love my vintage engagement ring! My fiance and I had been together for 9 years when we got engaged so he knew my preference and reasoning (like yours above) for a vintage ring. When the time came around for my fiance to propose his mother passed along a Victorian sapphire and diamond ring that had belonged to her grandmother. I love it and I love that it has been in his family for about 120 years! So not only did we luck out with a free ring (it did need a good cleaning and once over by a jeweler who specializes in antique jewelry – many regular jewelry stores won't even touch settings of this age) but it actually fit me perfectly without sizing!!!

  2. Megan

    I also had a similar experience! I am anti-diamonds (at least, new ones) so I was very surprised when my husband proposed with a diamond ring. However, it turned out it had been his great grandmother's! The date on the inside was 1909 and he proposed in 2009, so it was a nice continuum. The only diamond I would have accepted would have been a used diamond. We kept the setting, although it had to be fixed and cleaned like Liz's. Mine, however, needed resizing!

    I suggest doing the same thing for a wedding band. I was trying to be as green as possible with our wedding, so I hoped to find a used wedding band (should be cheap too since most people wouldn't want it!). Couldn't find a simple band with no diamonds in it though. So I bought a handmade one on Etsy…supported a metal worker instead! I get so many compliments (it looks like a string of flowers, made out of white gold), and it was cheaper than many plain bands at jewelry stores.

  3. Liz

    I am recently engaged and I too have no problem wearing a "worn" ring. I love love love the vintage look. I would like to find vintage rings with or without their center diamond; I acutally have a couple of "used" diamonds that I could get set into a setting but I have no idea where to look. Any suggestons?

  4. ashley p

    my ring is a family heirloom from my family that my great grandmother left to me but hd my dad hold on to until " i was ready" turns out i was ready to hve it when my now fiance used it to propose!

  5. Jai

    You are 'O'-MAZING and so is your ability to 'share cause you care' …

    Big hugs and Nati love!

  6. Sara

    Hi there! I have a "used" diamond in a new setting. If you go to your local jeweler, they usually sell settings seperately. They will measure the dimensions of the stone (much more important than karat weight as far as settings go). I think if you wanted a vintage setting, you would have to buy another vintage ring with a stone the same size as your diamonds (which seems to me like a tall order). When we went to pick out the setting for my ring, the jeweler had only a couple in store which didn't exactly wow me, but they also had books full of other settings that they could get into the store in 2 days, with no obligation for us to buy. We ended up doing this, and got a lovely engagement ring for about $600-700 (fiancé won't tell me the exact cost). You will also need a formal appraisal for a ring like this because the value of the diamond + the value of the setting does not equal the value of the complete ring (although I would guess its pretty close).

  7. Lisa

    I have a vintage diamond too, and I love the idea of it being vintage! My fiance had it reset with two sapphires, and I honestly don't think I could love it any more than I do. The jeweler said the cut is slightly different on older diamonds than modern ones (mine is slightly more domed, and has a visible culotte on the bottom), but I really wouldn't know the difference. It was way cheaper than a new diamond, and I feel like it's more ethical as well.

  8. Rachel

    I got my vintage ring in the diamond district from a wonderful jeweler who specializes in vintage, and vintage re-creations. You probably couldn't get an actual vintage ring with no diamond already in it, but I know you could certainly buy a setting that he has created to look like a replica. His name is Leigh Jay Nacht and his business is the same name. He also ships online so if you aren't local to NYC it shouldn't be a problem. He makes vintage replica wedding bands for those who want to keep the vintage look but might not be able to find a band that goes.