When my husband and I got engaged, my grandmother gave me her engagement and wedding band set. The epitome of vintage, the pair was hand-crafted to be worn together. In fact, the two were integrated into each other. The engagement ring could stand alone, but the wedding band was intended to have the engagement ring fit into the wedding ring and come together as one whole and new piece of jewellery.
I absolutely loved the idea of an engagement ring intended to fit into a wedding band, essentially creating a whole new piece. To me, it was the perfect metaphor for two people joining their lives together and becoming something new…together. But my grandmother’s fingers were and are much smaller than mine, so the rings would have to be resized, and I was warned that resizing rings that were that ornately adorned and designed could essentially ruin the craftsmanship. Plus, I already had an engagement ring. One I loved, too. And my grandmother’s taste and my taste are almost the antithesis of one another.
That’s when I discovered that there are jewellers who specialize in vintage style engagement rings and sets. If it is specifically vintage enough, they call themselves estate jewellers, usually, I believe, because most of this type of jewellery is left to people as part of a loved one’s estate. When I contacted an estate jeweller, I learned that there is a very real and specific market for these rings. So much so, that the jeweller and his partner asked if they could come see the rings that very afternoon.
When you think about it, they’re unique pieces because in the 30s and 40s, mass production wasn’t as, well, mass, so there weren’t too many similar pieces to start with. Then over time, they’ve been lost, destroyed, stolen, chopped up for other pieces, or are gathering dust in an antique jewellery box packed away in some relative’s loft.
But it gave me pause. Our fascination with styles of the distant past is an intriguing notion, isn’t it? Almost some romantic notion that a pill-box hat will make us a First Lady, a set of party pearls from the 20s will transform us into a flapper, or a regal looking pair of rings from a loved one will bear all the honor and privilege of an entire life’s worth of experience and love. So, maybe styling engagement rings made today as one would have styled them way back when isn’t such an oddity. Maybe it’s the extra pep in our step or twinkle in our eye. Maybe it’s that little special something we need to bring everything into perspective. Or maybe it just looks really, really good!