If you’re interested in vintage inspired engagement rings, one era that deserves attention is the 1920s. Known as the start of the Art Deco period, the engagement rings of the 1920s are distinctive and modern, reflecting the social and economic changes of the period.
This period remains one of the most notable for jewelry and engagement ring designs from the 1920s still continue to inspire modern jewelry designers. Let’s take a closer look.
The Context – 1920s
1920s Flapper Girl
Prior to the 1920s, jewelry designs tended to be elaborate and fussy, worn to showcase status and wealth. However, the First World War brought in a shift of attitude – jewelry was no longer seen as a way to show off your position in society but rather worn for decorative purposes.
The 1920s were a time of economic and social change and growth. Known as the Roaring Twenties or the Jazz Age, the 1920s showcased economic prosperity and living life on your own terms. People owned modern technological objects like cars, telephones and radios, and for the first time, However, this prosperity only last a short while, as it ended in the Great Depression with the crash of the stock market in 1929.
Women were given the right to vote, which gave them a voice for the first time. The 1920s also saw the emergence of flapper girls, a generation of young women who rebelled against tradition through fashion and flaunted their contempt for socially accepted behavior.
These changes reflected in the new styles seen in 1920s engagement rings. These were bold and different to previous designs. However, it’s important to note that at this time, the custom of proposing with a ring was not as pervasive as it is today, and diamonds weren’t the top stone for engagement rings. Colored gemstones were also popular at this time. These two points would change in the 1930s with the De Beers diamond campaigns, which helped make engagement rings a tradition and diamonds the first choice.
Features of 1920s Engagement Rings
Even today, many vintage inspired designs feature rings from the 1920s. The engagement rings of the 1920s are easy to identify, with styles that gravitated towards the modern and the non-traditional. Here are the main characteristics of 1920s engagement rings:
1- Geometric Designs
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The designs of 1920s engagement rings were less feminine and more geometric, less extravagant and more minimalistic. Geometric shapes, like hexagon, square, rectangle and circles, were used in the designs, often with several shapes incorporated into a single design. This was unlike the gentle curving and swirling elements of the Victorian and Edwardian jewelry styles where floral and natural elements featured extensively.
2- White Metals
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1920s engagement rings were typically made of white metals, notably platinum or white gold. This was in contrast to the Victorian and Edwardian eras, when yellow and rose gold were commonly used. This was the metal color of choice and can be seen in most of the ring designs of this period. The white metals gave a modern, stark look to the rings making them stand out.
3- Diamonds and Gemstones
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Diamonds were a popular choice for center stones in the rings of this period, but colored gemstones were also popularly used, especially for engagement rings. Accent stones of contrasting colors were used to create intriguing patterns and sharp contrast, and many designs feature a center diamond with stones like sapphire, emerald or ruby used as accents.
4- New Cuts
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Caliber cut gemstones and new shapes like baguettes were popular during this period, due in part to the advancements in gemstone cutting methods. This meant that rings could feature unique designs and patterns with the layout of the stones.
5- Decorative Elements
Ring by Papier De Lapin. Check It Here.
Popular elements included milgrain and filigree, which added detail and texture to the ring designs. These were elements that were commonly used in previous eras too, and had made their way into the modern 1920s jewelry era.
Are 1920s Engagement Rings in Style Today?
In recent years, vintage jewelry designs have come back into vogue, with engagement rings often featuring vintage inspired elements. Most retailers have a ‘vintage’ engagement ring collection, with Art Deco rings being a popular style.
Art Deco style vintage inspired ring. See it here.
If you are attracted to vintage styles, but still want something with a modern touch, the engagement rings of the 1920s might be just the right balance for you. Vintage but modern, elaborate yet simple, the ring designs of this period are truly eye-catching.
Where to Buy 1920s Engagement Rings
One excellent source for vintage and vintage-inspired modern engagement rings from the 1920s is Etsy, where you can find a wide collection of designs, reflecting the unique characteristics of that period.
You can also search on retail sites like James Allen and Blue Nile, both of which have excellent vintage-inspired engagement ring collections. Note that these are modern replicas or designs inspired by the styles of the 1920s and not actual antiques.
If you’re looking for antique rings from this period, it’s best to take your search to antique or estate sites, where you can find authentic pieces from that time. Always compare prices and make sure you aren’t overpaying for a piece of lower quality than implied.