Jewelry Blog

Vintage Ring Styles and Motifs

Vintage Dome Style Motif Rings

The words “vintage ring” are used freely among enthusiasts, yet everyone agrees that there are many different vintage ring styles. In this article, I will list the most popular vintage ring styles and what makes them so beautiful and desirable.

But first, I need to define the word vintage as something made over 20 years ago and antique as made over 100 years ago.

Skip ahead: Scroll-Motif Vintage Rings | Halo Vintage Rings | Vintage Tiffany Prong Rings | Vintage Three Stone Ring | Vintage East-West Ring | Vintage Crown Mounting Ring | Vintage Serpent Motif Rings | Vintage Floral Motif Rings | Vintage Dome Ring | Bows and Garlands Vintage Style Ring | Vintage Retro Style Ring

Vintage Ring Styles

Although the center stone is one of the most treasured parts of any ring, the mounting is usually an equal partner, if not an even more important part. Vintage and antique styles are the soul of vintage rings and inspired the jewelers of old when they handcrafted their stunning designs.

1. Scroll-Motif Vintage Rings

4 antique ring styles rings with scroll motif designs

The scroll motif ring features a primary design on the shoulders, gallery, or accents that portrays a scroll or curling artwork. To be a scroll motif, the motif needs to amplify the design’s overwhelming focus.

The scroll motif dates back to Ancient Greece. In the 18th century, jewelers combined elements of nature and the design of a scroll. For instance, metals may be shaped as flowing leaves or vines that can be fashioned to replicate the scroll.

This unique effect was usually achieved through filigree work, a jewelry technique that dates back thousands of years. Filigree work involves shaping, twisting, and fashioning wire pieces into designs. Through this process, jewelers can create lace-like structures to give a ring a scroll-like shape.

In some cases, the scroll design may be achieved by placing small gemstones in specific patterns to form the scroll design. Designs like these are described as delicate and whimsical, and some may feature larger gemstones. Setting the stone in this ring style may involve using various setting styles like bezel, prong, or channel.

2. Halo Vintage Rings (Cluster Rings)

Vintage Halo Diamond Engagement Rings on table in showroom

The halo vintage ring (also cluster) features a circle of secondary stones surrounding the primary gemstone. To be a halo ring, the surrounding stones must surround at least 75% of the center stone.

The halo design has been popular since the 1700s and remains popular in modern designs. It was prevalent during the Art Deco, Edwardian, and Retro eras.

The halo can comprise any accenting gemstone, although diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds are the most commonly found in vintage rings.

3. Vintage Tiffany Prong Rings

vintage Tiffany prong set diamond rings

The Tiffany prong setting ring features a simple 6-prong mounting leading to a single diamond that’s then lifted high above the finger. Introduced by Tiffany & Co. in the late 19th century, it remains one of the most popular ring styles ever invented.

This style is best suited for center gemstones that don’t need any introduction or assistance in displaying their beauty. It was most popular during the Art Deco era and has experienced a massive resurgence in the past few decades.

The brilliant and eye-catching setting features thin metal arms that cradle the diamond. The prongs act like a lift to hold the diamond above the band, allowing light to enter from various angles.

4. Vintage Three Stone Ring

Vintage three-stone diamond engagement rings

The vintage three-stone ring showcases three larger gemstones at the top. Sometimes, all three stones are the same size, but the center stone is usually larger than the two side stones.

Typically associated with the Georgian and Victorian eras, DeBeers is often erroneously given credit for it. Marketing it as a “Past, Present, and Future Ring,” DeBeers might not have designed the style, but they did popularize it.

The smaller two stones of the set will usually be a pair, like matching diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, or aquamarine.

As the three-stone motif is rather dominant, it will usually be the primary focus of the ring without any other motifs attached. Still, sometimes, other motifs may be alongside it.

5. Vintage East-West Ring

vintage east-west elongated engagement rings on surface

A vintage east-west ring is when the center stone (and the entire design) is crafted to support the design’s horizontal flow instead of vertically or centered.

Engagement rings are typically vertical, meaning the gemstone is positioned to point up and down. Sometimes, they’re referred to as “north-south” rings. However, the east-west ring flips the placement to the side. The center stone (or gallery design) no longer sits vertically but horizontally. Hence, the stone is planted in an east-west direction.

No particular vintage era has focused on this design style, but many examples from the Art Deco and Retro eras exist.

This is perfect for those who want a traditional but individual look. It’s also an ideal choice for those looking for sparkle and bling. The shape tends to maximize the carat weight. The best diamond shapes for this style include oval-cut, cushion, emerald, and marquise.

6. Vintage Crown Mounting Ring

4 crown vintage ring styles of engagement rings top side view

A vintage crown mounting ring is a ring with a gallery that holds the center diamond, which features a crown-like design. This crown-style mounting is also known as “basket mounting.”

This motif typically features a round-cut or cushion-cut diamond in the center of the ring. The crown can be minimalistic (engravings or basic filigree) or elaborate and intricate with gemstones and detailed filigree.

The crown motif is one of the oldest, and many Georgian and Victorian rings will feature it. It wasn’t so popular during the Edwardian and Art Nouveau eras but had a resurgence during the Art Deco era.

7. Vintage Serpent Motif Ring

antique Victorian Serpent motif rings vintage ring styles

The vintage serpent motif ring features a snake-like image or snake-like structure. This ring sometimes features a prominent center gemstone, but usually, it has either a muted primary gemstone or none at all.

The serpent motif was incredibly popular during the Victorian era and hasn’t made a comeback since. The few remaining genuine quality antique Victorian serpent rings are very desirable collectibles.

Although some people use vintage serpent rings as engagement rings, they’re usually considered cocktail or dinner rings.

8. Vintage Floral Motif Ring

Vintage Floral Organic motif Rings with reflection

Vintage floral rings feature floral and organic designs inspired by plants, trees, flowers, and landscapes. Sometimes, a floral ring takes a single element; sometimes, it incorporates many floral ideas into the same design.

The floral ring motif has been popular for centuries, although it was incredibly trendy during the Georgian, Edwardian, and Art Nouveau eras. Most of these motifs in jewelry can be traced back to Ancient Greece and Rome. However, they were heavily featured in the Art Nouveau movement, which saw designs heavily influenced by nature.

This motif focused heavily on milgrain, diamonds (especially lots of smaller diamonds), filigree, and engraving.

9. Vintage Dome Ring

Vintage Dome Motif Style Engagement Rings

The vintage dome ring features a curved gallery, with the center diamond usually sitting at the top. The gallery meets directly with the shoulders and the shank to create a cohesive domed effect.

The vintage dome ring doesn’t have an era of its own. Jewelers utilized it when needed for design. It usually combines with another motif to have a full impact.

Sometimes, the dome is simple and undecorated; sometimes, it is studded with diamonds, filigree, and other gemstones.

10. Bows and Garlands Vintage Style Ring

Bows and Garlands Vintage Style Diamond Rings

The Bows and Garlands Vintage Style Ring features bows, garlands, wreaths, and knots in its craftsmanship. As with some of the rings listed here, this motif is usually connected with another to complete the design.

This style was extremely popular during the Edwardian Era, but you’ll also find many examples during the Victorian and Retro eras.

11. Vintage Retro Style Ring

Retro Style Diamond Engagement Rings Top side angle

Retro-style rings are bold and grand, focusing on shapes, curves, and featured gemstones. Although the Retro style (and Retro Era) technically occurred from the 1930s to the 1950s, the inspiration started way earlier and has continued to this day. Many rings can be vintage retro style even though they aren’t from that period.

Vintage retro style features bold designs and geometric shapes that might be rectangular or asymmetrical. Yellow gold was commonly used as platinum was reserved for wartime use. Sometimes, rose gold and platinum may be used.

The color palette includes vivid combinations of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. As the era progressed, however, more muted colors with stones like topaz, citrine, green beryl, and aquamarine became popular.

Vintage Eras and Their Style

Vintage rings derive from five main eras: the Georgian (1714-1830), Victorian (1820 and 1914), Edwardian (1900-1920), Art Deco (1920-1940), and Retro (1940-1960) eras.

  • Georgian (1714-1830) – Georgian-era rings were mainly made from gold and featured elaborate designs. Ring-style themes included ribbon work, butterflies, and flowers, which were often colorful. The rings largely mirrored the romantic movement of the time. Diamonds were often chosen to add sparkle and brilliance. Sometimes, other gems were placed to accentuate the piece.
  • Victorian (1820-19000) – Victorian-era rings were best known for their romantic designs. These rings often featured diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, and the bands themselves may have had flower or heart designs and shapes.
  • Edwardian (1900-1920) – Edwardian-era rings are known for their highly intricate and elaborate designs, thanks to filigree work, milgrain edging, and a primary focus on showcasing diamonds.
  • Art Deco (1920-1940) – Art Deco rings are bold and feature sharp angles, lines, and shapes. They often feature diamonds and other gems to create a stunning effect. The stones are big, making them popular among women who want to make a statement with their rings.
  • Retro (1940-1960) – Retro-era rings are rather chunky and feature a wide range of colorful gemstones. Given their versatility, retro engagement rings are timeless and can pair nicely with various wedding bands.

Vintage-inspired rings don’t have to stick to the style. They might incorporate styles from multiple eras, combining designs to create something new.

Shop Vintage Rings

As you can see, we know a lot about vintage rings. We’ve been curating our collection for over 40 years. Here are some of the vintage rings from our collection.

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About Benjamin Khordipour

Benjamin Khordipour is one of the jewelry researchers and gemologists at Estate Diamond Jewelry. He received his official gemological degrees from both the GIA and GUBELIN. He also regularly contributes to Business Insider, Forbes, Rapaport, CNBC, and Brides Magazine. Benjamin was born in New York and joined Estate Diamond Jewelry in 2014. He is passionate about vintage jewelry and diamonds. This blog was built on his strong belief that jewelers have a responsibility to properly educate their customers. In 2019, Benjamin co-authored the book The Engagement Ring Guide for Men. His favorite vintage jewelry era is the Art Deco Era and his favorite type of stone is the Kashmir Sapphire. He also collects rare antique pins.