Heirloom and Vintage Wedding and Engagement Rings

an heirloom wedding ring in a bouquet of flowers
Photo Courtesy of Whitney Lewis Photography

Few wedding traditions are as romantic and symbolic as the wedding and engagement ring, so why not get your inspiration from history? If you’re thinking about proposing with a genuine family heirloom engagement ring – or designing a new wedding ring with vintage styling – here are some of the things you need to consider.
An LDS groom displays an heirloom wedding ring set
Photo Courtesy of Alixann Loosle Photography

Giving Her Grandma’s Ring

Proposing with a ring that has been passed down in your family for generations is a sweet gesture, both to your ancestors and your bride-to-be. But it may not be right for every couple.

Why couples like it: a vintage ring is totally unique, one of a kind. Not only that, but it comes complete with a beautiful back story. What better way to bring your bride into the family than giving her a treasured family heirloom? What’s more, the vintage look is very popular right now. And giving a ring that has already been in your family for generations is obviously very cost-effective.

Why couples don’t like it: there’s a fine line between “vintage” and “old school,” and you don’t want to propose with a ring your bride won’t like. It might not be her style, or she may have her heart set on designing a new ring with you. Proposing with a family heirloom may cause tension in the family (“why does he get the ring instead of me?”), and you’d hate to feel that you’re “regifting” something as important as a wedding ring.

If You Propose with an Heirloom Ring

If you go full steam ahead with your vintage ring proposal, make sure to have it checked out by a jeweler first. Older rings may have loose prongs or built-up grime. A jeweler can repair unstable prongs and professionally clean the ring to make it sparkle like new.

an heirloom ring with a sapphire center stone
Photo Courtesy of Tami Webb Photography

You should also have the ring appraised. You’ll need to do this anyway to get insurance on the ring, and it will weed out surprises. (It might not make a difference to find that grandma’s “diamond” ring is really cubic zirconium, but you still want to know.)
If you’re proposing with an antique ring, don’t forget that you also have the option of removing the heirloom ring’s stone and having it set in something more contemporary. What to say to your fianceė? Try something like, “It was my great grandmother’s, but since it’s an antique design I’d be happy to go with you to pick a new band to have the stone set in.” This preserves the sentimentality of giving grandma’s ring while designing a ring style your fianceė loves.
An LDS groom displays an heirloom wedding ring set
Photo Courtesy of Stacey Kay Photography

Designing a Faux Vintage Ring

Vintage rings are very popular right now, and if you don’t have a family heirloom to pass down you just may want to design a ring that looks vintage.

“Vintage” usually refers to any style prior to 1950. Certain cuts (such as the cushion cut) or use of stones other than diamonds (such as pearls, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and opals) often give definition to a vintage style ring.

2 beautiful heirloom rings
Photo Courtesy of DarlaRoze Photography

Many jewelers specialize in recreating vintage looks for wedding and engagement rings. Just like with any other engagement or wedding ring purchase, you should familiarize yourself with the 4-C’s and ring terminology to make an informed decision.

There are plenty of good things to be said for wearing a vintage engagement or wedding ring (whether it’s really from 1920 or just designed to look that way.) The timeless quality of a vintage ring will never go out of style or become dated, and better yet, guarantees you’ll have a one of a kind ring with real personality.

♥ Jenny Evans
Exclusively for WeddingLDS.com
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