The Antique Ring Obsession

I don’t know when it started, but at some point I decided that I wanted a vintage engagement ring. I came to this realization in my early 20s, well before I met Mr. C. I guess I’ve always had this vision that I would wear something with a bit of history, something with an ornate Art Deco or Art Nouveau style, something different.

I’m enchanted with the idea of wearing a ring that once witnessed a great love. Maybe the ring eventually fell into the hands of a relative who sold it. Now it has the chance to know true love once more. But sometimes I wonder what if the opposite occurred—what if the ring is from a failed or rocky marriage? What if it has seen a great tragedy? In that case, I believe that we would be giving the ring a fresh start for love. I wonder where my ring has traveled, where it has been. Who once looked down at their hand each day to see that ring gleaming on their finger? Can you tell that I’m stupidly sentimental?


All antique rings from Erie Basin

When Mr. C and I first started talking about marriage, I told him that I wanted to play a role in finding the ring. I struggled with this choice because ideally I wanted the whole process to be a surprise. In a perfect world the entire engagement would be a surprise and the ring would be everything I had always dreamed it would be. But in reality it must be incredibly overwhelming for a man to walk into a jewelry store and try to predict which ring his girlfriend will love for the rest of her life. That’s a lot of pressure and I’ve seen it set some couples up for disappointment. Besides, I know myself well enough to know that I often have unrealistically high expectations. I didn’t want to set my poor fiance up for failure. I want to be clear that I wasn’t worried about being disappointed in the carat size—we’re both hard-working teachers, after all. We don’t exactly make a lot of money. I was more concerned about the wide range of styles found in antique engagement rings. Even on my own I was having trouble narrowing down what exactly I wanted.

I began browsing antique rings online not long after our first talk of marriage. OK, I might have begun “browsing” antique rings a month after we started dating. Yes, I was that girl. Thankfully, I kept it a secret until I knew that we were both on the same page concerning our relationship. But there were definitely some shameful lunch breaks where I would scroll wistfully through pages of antique engagement rings. I might have even pinned some into a secret Pinterest under a decoy email address. I regret nothing!! In fact, it was helpful because it gave me a good idea of what I was looking for in an engagement ring.


All antique rings from The Three Graces

In my weeks of searching I learned that finding THE antique engagement ring is easier said than done. Each one is unique, so it took some time to find rings that had all the right characteristics. There is also the danger of falling in love with a ring that is suddenly bought by someone else and gone forever, or loving specific qualities of many separate rings and being unable to find them all in one ring. At times I felt frustrated with my search, especially since I could not see or try on the the rings in person. This meant that we needed to find a store that carried antique engagement rings. Alas, there are not many in our area.

Initially Mr. C and I visited a few modern jewelry stores to check out their vintage-inspired options. We were often told that we could custom design our own vintage-inspired ring, but nothing really spoke to me. I wanted the real deal. After a while we managed to find a few jewelry stores that carried a smattering of vintage or antique rings, but I never found anything I loved. I started to feel more and more frustrated in our options.

Our next stop was a once-monthly antique mall in Atlanta, which was recommended to us by several people. It’s the Scott Antique Market, in case you are in the Atlanta area and looking for a vintage engagement ring. They have loads of other amazing finds as well, so it’s worth a visit either way! We were surprisingly overwhelmed by the selection of antique and vintage rings. Once again, the issue was that each ring was one of a kind. Some I loved but the diamonds had very obvious inclusions. Others were way out of our price range. We started to take pictures just to keep track of all the different rings I tried on throughout the day. We ended up spending hours there, but once again we didn’t find anything we loved. We left empty handed, but the trip helped me determine what look I had in mind and what looked best on my finger. It was becoming clear that perhaps buying online was the way to go.


Some phone photos of the rings I tried on at the antique mall (all personal photos)

A few weeks passed and I decided that maybe a Pinterest board of rings that I loved would be a good idea. Thankfully, I already had one that I had been keeping secret for months (yup, no shame!). The Pinterest board gave Mr. C a feel for what I loved most. The selection online from reputable antique jewelry shops is hard to deny, so within a few days I had 20-plus different rings chosen for price and characteristics that I loved—things like colored accent stones, delicate filigree work, and a low-lying profile. By showing him a wide variety of what I loved I knew that the ring would still be a surprise and I could rest assured that he would pick a ring that I would love. Then I waited. And waiting is always the hardest part.

I had so many questions: Which ring would he choose? When would he buy it? When would he propose? How would he propose? Did he have a plan or was he just thinking over his strategy? You will have to find out in my next post!


Mrs. Camel

Athens, GA
Wedding Date:
May 2013
Happy Thanksgiving, Hive!
Wedding Planning Date Night (No Bridal Magazines or Glue Guns Involved)
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  1. Member
    dragonlover 578 posts, Busy bee @ 9:46 am

    I can’t wait to see what he choose for you!

    I wish I had been half as smart in speaking up to my FH. I – like you – have an obsession with antique rings like some of those you have posted. Some beautiful ones on this page.

    I never let FH know. Now I have a modern bling engagement ring :(

  2. Member
    sunkissed19 601 posts, Busy bee @ 10:08 am

    love that you had a secret pinterest account! my best friend and i did shared one for our wedding boards- and a couple of months after we started we we both got engaged.

    we still use our secret account, as it’s nice to not have everyone knowing what you’re doing!

  3. Member
    jilleeann 409 posts, Helper bee @ 10:42 am

    I’m so glad you did this post! I’m sporting an antique as I haven’t been in love with anything new that has been coming out in the last years. It’s a sapphire solitaire with a good deal of filigree, and it makes me happy every time i look down at it. I’m sure you love yours every bit as much.

  4. mswallaby Member
    mswallaby 2070 posts, Buzzing bee @ 12:34 pm

    I love art nouveau and art deco rings too. I sometimes wish Mr. w had picked out an antique ring… But then on my wedding day my parents gave me my great-grandmother’s ring set, and her engagement ring is so lovely and very art nouveau. And on the inside the ring is engraved “kBR to EBB, 9-25-1925.” I love it :)

  5. msarmadillo Member
    msarmadillo 497 posts, Helper bee @ 2:13 pm

    Love vintage rings! My ring has a bit of a vintage feel to it, but it’s still very modern and “trendy” with a cushion-shaped halo. Can’t wait to see what you ended up with!

  6. panda Member
    Mrs. Panda 1359 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:52 pm

    I love vintage rings too, I especially love the top right one you tried on.

  7. camel Member
    camel 703 posts, Busy bee @ 4:47 pm

    @karistiz: Actually, I just noticed that you can now create a locked “secret” board on your Pinterest account. If only the had those last year!

    @jilleeann: Ooo do you have a picture? It sounds beautiful!!

    @Mrs. Wallaby: Wow! Sounds like you got the best of both worlds. I am so envious that yours is a family heirloom with dates and everything! I am actually on the hunt for a wedding ring with engraved dates that will go with my engagement ring.

  8. Member
    FoolsintheRain 1009 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:16 am

    I love this! My engagement ring is an antique from the 1920s that my finance picked out from an antique jewelry store. I told him the same thing- I love the idea that the ring has history and always wonder what story it could tell. I also like the fact that is is recycled and I get to have a fancy ring without worrying about environmental degradation from mining, or the social and ethical justice issues related to mining. Now to find a wedding band that suits too….

    Can’t wait to see the ring!

  9. mstoadstool Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 2:49 pm

    I love the look of antique rings, it must be exciting having one and wondering where it has been.

  10. buffalo Member
    buffalo 178 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:48 am

    I love antique rings too! When Mr. B and I first started dating, I may or may not have fallen in love with one I found in an antique store in Disneyland…he didn’t really think it was an appropriate souvenir, though. Can’t wait to see what he picked out!

  11. Member
    jilleeann 409 posts, Helper bee @ 12:08 pm

    miss camel, yes I have a picture, which probably should have been taken outside in the sun. If i find the time to figure out getting it on here, i’ll… figure something out.

  12. Guest Icon Guest
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