As more of my friends are starting to get married. I am thrilled to take on the task of sourcing special antique rings for the engagement.
There are no rules to relationships these days, so even the act of engagement is a lofty subject. To ease the burden of this big step, many young people are starting to look for more casual or alternative styles to the large, obvious solitaire diamond.
In antique jewelry, the romance is in the symbolism. Design elements are incorporated to connote loving attachment. Here are a few styles that symbolize commitment in a more subtle yet meaningful way.
This refers to a ring with two stones in a cross over style setting. The stones can be two of the same, or mismatching. This style of ring was often used for engagements during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The cross-over style symbolizes two souls intertwined.
The toi et moi ring's popularity was believed to have started when Napoleon gave a sapphire and diamond engagement ring to Josephine in 1776.
Art Deco Filigree
lf you want to make a sparkly statement, but can't afford a grandiose stone, an elaborate setting might be the solution.
Filigree styles from the Art Deco era help emphasize a stone, making it look larger than it is. It still has the glamour and flash of diamonds, but it is usually accomplished with smaller stones. The artistic setting is excellent for someone with unique personal style. There were so many filigree patterns made during this time period, it would be hard to find two of the same.
Fede or Gemel Ring
A Fede ring (also called Gemel ring) is an old engagement ring style that features two hands clasped together. They usually have a hinge mechanism that clasps the hand to reveal a stone or a heart stamping. These are quite rare, but they can occasionally be found in nice condition.
The claddah ring has been a symbol of engaement since the 17th century in Ireland. It features two hands holding a heart topped with a crown (representing friendship, love, and loyalty).
According to tradition, the heart is worn pointing away on the right hand if the wearer is single, toward the body when the wearer has a love interest. When worn on the left hand, it should point away if the wearer is engaged and toward the body once the wearer is married.
Also known as "True Lovers Knot" or "Celtic Lovers Knot". This symbol was often used by sailors separated from their lovers. It is modeled from an difficult to untangle knot style. These rings can sometimes be found with a diamond in the center to make it extra engagement friendly.
Symbolically the belt motif represents the notion of "holding your love tightly", attachment and eternity. These usually have fairly simple designs and can look fairly modern when worn today. These make excellent engagement rings for males, or women with a more understated style. Read more about buckle motif symbolism in my previous blog post.
A prevalent Victorian symbol, the snake is an emblem of eternal love. The popular style began when Prince Albert proposed to Queen Victoria with what is considered the very first engagement ring, which was in the image of a snake with an emerald-set head.
There are so many options in today's jewelry market. The choice of ring should be as unique as the romance it represents. Antique rings are an excellent way to make a sentimental statement sure to last for generations to come.
See all available ring options, engagement and otherwise, at LUXXORVintage.com
If you come across an old locket or pendant with a military emblem or designation such as ‘mother’ or ‘wife’ it is probably an example of WWII sweetheart jewelry. Sweetheart collectibles are items that were purchased by military servicemen and sent home to the ladies in their life. These items included compacts, handkerchiefs, pillow cases, as well as jewelry. Items could be purchased at post offices at military bases around the world. The tradition of sending home mementos from the war started in WWI and gained popularity during WWII.
These tokens of love were a small luxury in a time of rationing and scarcity. They provided emotional comfort for soldiers and the loved ones they left behind. Since many materials were reserved for the war effort, the jewelry from this time was often made of gold or silver plated base metal. Natural materials like mother of pearl, were used as luxurious decorations when supply of stones were limited. Most sweetheart jewelry was made machine made, and often decorated with hand done engraving. Hand made jewelry that was fashioned by soldiers is called ‘Trench Art’ or ‘Pacific War Art’.
Many pieces of sweetheart jewelry were decorated with the emblems of the different branches of the military. Others had words like ‘mother’, ‘sweetheart’, and ‘wife’ or the recipient’s name.
The most popular form of sweetheart jewelry was the locket. As Nick Snider said in his book Sweetheart Jewelry and Collectibles; “Lockets had it all, beauty as well as usefulness by holding a picture of a loved one close to the heart.” Sweetheart Lockets were usually heart shaped, but they can also be found as ovals, or even book shaped. Most lockets had spaces for two photos. Today, many old lockets can still be found with the original photos intact. Usually it is of a soldier in uniform.
Lockets were not only hung on traditional chains. Many times they came on wire or bar shaped pin with designations such as “wife” or “mother”. Others were attached to jump wing or bow shaped pins.