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A Breif History: Vintage Engagement Rings

An engagement ring; a signifier of eternal love and commitment. More than just a piece of jewellery, it is an everyday heirloom which reminds you of your dearest love, and all the precious memories and moments you have shared over the years together. All the way dating back to ancient Rome, to todays millennials – we will go over some of the interesting facts about our much-treasured vintage engagement rings.

Photo by Terri-lynn Warren Photography | Engagement Rings from Miss Foxine Couture


In the Beginning; 1477 Some of the first antique engagement rings, or the rings used to affirm mutual love and commitment between two people dates back as far as 1477. Iron, bone, copper, ivory, and flint were some of the materials used. But the first diamond was seen in 1477 on Mary of Burgundy – bride of the Archduke Maximilian of Austria.

Mary of Burgundy, and the first recorded diamond engagement ring


1900's Engagement rings were still relatively uncommon throughout the centuries, and even up until the 1840’s. It wasn’t until 1900’s that we see a relative surge in signifying our hearts commitment to our soon-to-be-betrothed love with these gorgeous pieces of personal jewelry. In the Edwardian era (1900’s – 1910’s), elaborate details and dainty lace-like designs were used in engagement rings. Diamonds would be housed in ornate filigree, and European hand cut diamonds were the popular pick – up until the 1930’s.

Photo Credit Worth Point



When the 1920s came into full swing with art, modern loose fashion, and more clean designs, Art Deco engagement rings replaced the overly detailed Edwardian rings. Alongside diamonds, we begin to see colored gemstones such as sapphires, rubies, and emeralds being used with smooth lines and large stones. Engagement rings made a statement in a clear, fashion forward way.

Engagement Rings from Miss Foxine Couture


1930's Up until 1939 and when World War II hit, platinum was the popular choice in art deco and art nouveau engagement rings. But you will often see the band of the antique engagement ring replaced with yellow gold with adorning shoulder platinum details and a platinum setting. This design choice was to use less platinum as possible in the engagement ring; as platinum was needed in aid of the war.

Photo by Melissa Kew Photography | Engagement Rings from Miss Foxine Couture



Stepping into the 1940’s we see a boom of simplicity as World War II is underway; as the war pursues, we see engagement rings being more practical with a minimal statement. Simple lines crafted in yellow gold, and miniature diamonds surrounded by little bows, florals, and circles. Delicate engagement rings for the one you love.

Photo by Melissa Kew Photography | Haven Engagement Ring from Miss Foxine Couture



By the 50’s we see a huge resurgence in the popularity of diamonds used in engagement rings. This can be credited to the “A diamond is forever” campaign by brand De Beers; signifying that diamonds were a must-have for an everlasting marriage – due to their strength, clarity, and beauty. Baguette and emerald cut engagement rings became all the rage, and we see stars such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor sporting these ring styles.

Elizabeth Taylor's engagement ring from Richard Burton

Photo Credit Miadonna



Clean, modern, and simple engagement rings. With the entrance of the 1960’s, we see a want for cleanly designed silhouettes and simple styles. Sparkling and bright diamonds in pear, marquise, cushion cut, and round shapes were graced by a minimal band or perhaps a small accent stone. These engagement rings were quietly elegant; made with the working woman in mind.

Photo by Melissa Kew Photography | Haven Engagement Ring from Miss Foxine Couture

What is your favorite engagement ring style? We would love to hear from you!


Theresa Capell, artist and designer of Miss Foxine Couture received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Jewellery Design and Metalsmithing at NSCAD University in Halifax, NS, Canada.

Have any questions about vintage engagement rings? Contact us, or browse our selection of antique engagement rings here.

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