Rings of significance and rings for show. They have adorned the fingers of Royalty and the Aristocracy, and ordinary people. Infinitely precious yet unobtrusive, personal and enigmatic, estate rings speak to us in a language that defies time.
Vintage rings are unique among personal adornments; no other piece of antique jewelry carries such a magnitude of symbolism. Antique rings can be enjoyed not just for their historical provenance, but also enjoyed for themselves as objects of beauty, and also the fascinating meanings that have been attached to them. With vintage rings lovers and wedded couples have pledged their faith, and have used them to celebrate anniversaries, and in modern times the dress ring has been used to celebrate the birth of children, and are commonly now called 'push presents' In the Art Deco period the birth of children was marked by the gift of platinum and diamond 'Eternity Bands' which were worn on the second finger of the right hand opposite the antique engagement ring. And the number of band rings you wore was synonymous with the number of children you had. Now however many ladies like the idea of the symbol of Art Deco eternity band rings for their wedding bands, to symbolize the 'till death do us part' words of the marriage ceremony.
Vintage dress rings have also been worn by kings, aristocracy, the Pope and clergy as symbols of their power and lineage. Merchants have also used 'seal rings' to mark their goods.
So antique and vintage rings have warned their wearers to meditate on salvation, commemorated their dead, and proclaimed loyalties, and almost every antique ring can bring a human story to life.
In the 1930's dress and cocktail rings were much more of a geometric design. To start with angularity was emphasized; then with the emergence of a more fluid style, curves were developed into volutes, barrel, fan and turban shaped bezels on a large and imposing scale, it was a time with the idea 'if you've got it, flaunt it!'. Even though there was the depression, there were still those wealthy enough not to worry, and they wore important antique dress rings with big Sapphire, Ruby & Emerald solitaires whose perfect cuts were shown off by unobtrusive platinum mounts.
Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth's heiress, to whom price was no object, chose a black pearl ring from Cartier for her engagement ring to Prince Mdivani in 1933. The actress Clare Boothe Luce loved to wear a large diamond solitaire designed by Paul Flato, and was described by the columnist Ilka Chase, when she was going to the rehearsal of her play 'The Women' - 'as cool as the Snow Queen on her way to a dinner party, gowned by Hattie Carnegie, sabled by Jaeckel and on her finger flashed one of Paul Flato's ice-cubes.'
There were many alternatives in Art Deco cocktail rings to expensive diamond and colored stone solitaire dress rings. Star Sapphires, large cuts of Citrines, Aquamarines, Topazes and Amethysts were mounted in skeleton platinum settings, with a framing of much smaller diamond or precious stones.
This was also a time when Antique dress and cocktail rings had smaller gemstones massed together into a new bulkier style. An innovation from Van Cleef and Arpels of Paris in 1933 was the 'invisible setting', where stones were massed in a 'mosaic' of pure color secured by wires out of sight at the back. This remained in production until the 1960's; and other jeweler's, noting the techniques success made their own versions.
The prosperity of the post war years coincided with a period of security which encouraged ostentation; with precious stones becoming more readily available and less expensive; it was a time when large stone estate dress rings were worn during the day as well as at night, and they could never be too grand for the fingers. Antique rings were of two kinds: the intrinsically valuable, and the imposing but moderately priced 'cocktail ring'. The classic engagement ring of this Vintage period was usually bought with investment in mind.
The smartest vintage dress or cocktail rings came from Fulco di Verdura, French designer Jean Schlumberger of Tiffany, Mellero, Boucheron and Cartier.
At our antique and vintage jewelry shop 'Beverley R Jewelry' in Chicago we have a large selection of original Cocktail and Dress rings from the Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco periods. For the lady who wants to make a statement, and be ostentatious but in a very tasteful and sophisticated way.
1/ 18kt. Gold and Diamond Marquise shape Dress Ring, Edwardian. Circa. 1900
2/ Platinum, Aquamarine with Diamond shoulders, Art Deco Cocktail Ring. Same style as the one Prince Harry gave Megan as a wedding gift. Circa. 1930
3/ Platinum and Natural Pearl three colored Art Deco Cocktail Ring. Signed Peacock. Circa. 1930
4/ Platinum and Emerald Square Cut 3ct. Diamond, 'E' color. VVS2 clarity. Art Deco Engagement Ring. Circa 1925
5/ Platinum and Diamond, Multi Stone Setting. Art Deco Cocktail, Dress Ring. Circa 1935.