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Antique vs. Vintage

What’s the difference between Antique Rings and Vintage Rings?

Many people believe that antique and vintage mean the same thing. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. One speaks of age, the other speaks of ownership and time periods.

Many couples decide that when it is time to shop for an engagement ring, they are in the market for an older ring—one with history and a story attached to it. Buying an older ring is important to many people, but when it comes to shopping for one, sometimes it is difficult to know what to ask for. If you want a Victorian era ring, are you asking for an antique ring? Or is it a vintage ring? Are they both the same? Below is a guide to help you understand the difference between antique rings and vintage rings. This way, when you are ready to really begin your engagement ring search, you will know exactly what to look for, and how to ask for it.

Antique Vintage Style Lotus Engagement Ring with Hand Engraving

Antique Vintage Style Lotus Engagement Ring with Hand Engraving.

There are a few differences between a vintage ring and an antique ring. Sometimes the phrases are used in a way that would suggest the rings could be in both categories. Many times, when people use the word “antique,” what they really mean is old, and when they use the word “vintage,” they usually mean the costume jewelry look-a-likes of classic Hollywood. However, the terms really mean something more specific, and using them properly will yield a better payoff.

Antique Rings and Jewelry

• Describes jewelry that is at least one hundred years old.

• Most popular time frames are:

– Georgian Era (1714 – 1837) – These pieces were all handmade and very unique, so finding one is rare and extremely coveted. They are expensive, but when you take a look at the craftsmanship, the work is breathtaking. Finding an authentic ring from this Georgian era is difficult, but for those looking for a ring with a real story—it is worth it.

– Victorian Era (1837 – 1885) – These rings are extremely popular, and just as worshiped as the Georgian rings. They come in more variety, and tend to range in the kind of care they need. If you are thinking of purchasing one of these rings, make sure you do your research first—some Victorian rings do not do well for certain lifestyles.

Vintage vs Antique Jewelry

Example of an Antique Georgian Cross

Vintage Rings and Jewelry

• Sometimes is a term that is used to describe anything that was previously owned by someone, regardless of time.

• More commonly used to describe a ring that was made after the 1920’s. Some popular periods include:

– 1940’s – classic Hollywood inspired costume jewelry.

– 1960’s – Jacqueline Kennedy inspired jewelry.

– 1980’s – dramatic and bold jewelry.

Also used as a term to describe a fashion or trend that was once popular in the past, and is now popular again. This usually happens every twenty to twenty-five years. This means that there is always a rotating decade that is considered vintage.

Are Victorian rings considered antique or vintage?

Because the terms are used more loosely in some cases than others, there is a lot of confusion about whether or not a Victorian ring would be considered just an antique, just vintage, or both.  This really depends on who you are talking to, and the easiest way to get an answer would be to ask specific shop owners for their definitions.  Getting on the same page for each person is the best way to ensure that when you talk about the rings.

Can a piece of jewelry be both Antique and Vintage?

Depends on who you ask. Many people like to say that 50 years and over is considered antique. Others say 100 years and over. If you go by the strictest of definitions, just to be safe, the answer would be No. At least not yet. Antique means 100 years or older. Vintage usually refers to a certain time period starting at the 1920’s. However, being Vintage starts in the 1920’s and antique means 100 years or older, come 2020 it will be very possible by the strictest of definitions to have both a Vintage and Antique piece of jewelry. As of 2014, If you go by the more loose definition, and consider antique to mean 50 years or older, it’s already possible with any piece of jewelry created in 1964 or earlier.

Which ring is right for you?

If you are a fan of rings that come with stories, make sure that regardless of how old the ring is, it was previously owned.  Most shop owners will have at least a partial history of the ring, and will be able to tell you where it came from and who owned it.

If you are just looking for an old looking ring, then consider shopping for a ring that looks like an antique ring, usually named “antique style rings“, but has been made in modern times.  This is often a suggestion for couples because modern rings have less of a tendency to break or be damaged by every day use.  Water can destroy a lot of the parts of old rings without owners knowing, so if this seems like too much care to place in your ring, settle for a style that can be converted into a more modern ring.  You can have the elegance and style of a vintage ring without the maintenance it might take to keep one.  Do your research and really ask yourself what you are after when purchasing your engagement ring.  When you come to these honest answers, you will be able to make a purchase that will keep you happy for the greatest amount of time.