Engagement Ring Inspiration: 1950s – 1960s

Vintage 1950s Moonstone and Diamond Ring

Continuing our collaboration with antiques superstars 1stdibs, we’ve selected our favourite vintage engagement ring inspiration from the 1950s through to the 1960s. After exploring early vintage design from the Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian periods, as well as the graphic lines of Art Deco, we’ve now arrived, post-war, at the 1950s.

Vintage 50s Indicolite Tourmaline and diamond ring

With design becoming increasingly bold, bombastic and brave, the Atomic Age brought thoughts of space exploration, discovery and the future. Strong but still shaken from the end of the war, threats of the atomic bomb played on in the subconscious of young designers, but they looked onwards and upwards with strong, domed silhouettes, oversized designs, and kitsch motifs.

Vintage 1950s cocktail ring
Vintage 1950s domed diamond and ruby ring
Domed 1950s diamond engagement ring

A more organic look also became popular towards the beginning of the 1960s, reminiscent of lunar landscapes and exploding stars, as well as the use of bold colour, large stones and industrial lines and shapes.

Vintage 60s lapis lazuli and diamond ring

My particular favourites include the Sputnik ring, a domed, multi-gemstone set cocktail ring style that perhaps embodies the design style of the times with its space-age feel and graphic, pop-art colour.

Vintage 1960s Sputnik Ring
Vintage 60s opal ring
Vintage 1960s Diamond Swirl ring

Mid-century modernism was reflected in some commercial jewellery design, although not as much as with certain ‘artist jewellers’ who were working at the time (that’s a whole other post and one of my personal obsessions) with a cleaner look and toned down form, that perhaps feel more wearable today if you’re looking for a vintage ring to wear as an engagement ring.

Vintage 1960s Modernist Gold and Diamond Ring
Vintage 1960s Diamond square form ring
Side view of diamond square form ring


Vintage 1960s Diamond Sputnik Ring
Vintage 60s cabochon sapphire and baguette diamond ring

More to come next week with the decade du jour: the 1970s.

More vintage jewellery inspiration here, with Victorian, Georgian and Edwardian dainty and delicate designs.

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London Fashion Week AW15 Jewellery Highlights

Alice Cicclioni’s new florals: delicate carved pastel flowers in amethyst, rock crystal and sapphire, with diamonds

London Fashion Week AW15 is up and running, with Rock Vault, the fine jewellery showcase featuring the UK’s most exciting jewellery designers is back to its glittering best. After a slightly dark and gloomy setting last September, the sun shone into the white walled room at Somerset House this weekend to reveal the jewellers’ talents in all their glory.

Tourmaline ring by Shimell & Madden

Hand-picked by a panel selected by the jewellery powerhouse that is Stephen Webster, the participants this year form a diverse array of highly trained, multi-disciplinary skill and homegrown talent. From the intrigue, wit and drama of surrealists Yunus & Eliza, to the mathematical nerds that are newcomers Shimell & Madden, the chosen ten benefit from business support mentoring and a dedicated space at London Fashion Week.

Here are some of our jewellery highlights from the 2015 BFC Rock Vault, including Hannah Martin, Tomasz Donicik, Alice Cicclioni, Shimmell & Madden, Yunus & Eliza, Jo Hayes Ward, Ornella Iannuzzi, Jacqueline Cullen, Imogen Belfield and Beth Gilmour.

Garnet, diamond and gold pendant by Shimell & Madden
Baguette multi gemstone ring from the new collection by Tomasz Donocik
Silver cufflinks by Hannah Martin
Opal & gold earrings by Ornella Iannuzzi

Alongside Rock Vault there was of course a strong selection of London jewellers and newcomers; the best being Rachel Boston with her new fine jewellery collection Runes, Ruifier with a hugely expanded offering, including lower price points and silver collections, and new minimalists Bam-B.

The new fine jewellery collection ‘Runes’ by Rachel Boston
A selection of new pieces by Ruifier
Ruifier’s new collection
New designers Bam B’s minimalist torques
New work by jewellery designer Rachel Boston: Diamond Slice ring
Ring by Jewellery Designer Brooke Gregson

A beautiful selection in a much-improved space this season, stay tuned to see more of Tomasz Donocik’s new Electric Nights collection later this week.

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How to buy a vintage engagement ring…

So, how do you buy a vintage engagement ring? This is a dilemma I’ve witnessed in many of my friends recently who know they want an engagement ring that is more than a conventional diamond solitaire, with the weight and character that only an antique ring can bring. It will most likely be a one-off, with a lot more carats for your money than if you were buying a new diamond engagement ring. But most importantly, searching for a vintage ring allows you to be experimental, try on different styles and then commit to ‘the one’ after hands-on research (literally) – and this ‘one’ will be truly unique, a one-off. You can afford to flirt with, and then commit to, the unconventional design, without having to know what you want beforehand. This is a similar feeling to commissioning a bespoke engagement ring, providing you have complete trust in your jewellery designer and have done your research to know your general aesthetic parameters.  

My best friend Stephanie recently found this vintage 1960s beauty: a domed structure of 16 tapered baguette diamonds, light and airy but strong, graphic and bold. After much praise over on Instagram, I thought I’d post some more ‘photos here to show it in all its glory. 

Being the creative powerhouse and hugely talented woman that she is (see her incredible paintings here), she is sure about what she likes and doesn’t like, but being sure about the kind of ring you like doesn’t always mean being specific, in aesthetic terms; in other words there would have been hundreds of designs that she would or could like, but finding ‘the one’ would always be a case of ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’ 

A mixture of instant love, instinct and the fact that it fit her perfectly meant that she bought it that same day, from a fantastic antiques jewellery dealer in London’s Grays Antiques. And so, like Stephanie, this is what you should look for when buying a vintage engagement ring: have a strong gut feeling about the piece, so much so that you would be gutted if you came back and it had gone. That it is well made, from a reputable dealer – look for worn settings and wobbly stones. That the design isn’t generic (you might as well be getting a new one), but has unusual details that you haven’t seen before. But mostly, that it makes your heart sing and you can’t stop staring at it…(kind of how you should feel about your fiancé, too). Good luck! If you need any advice please feel free to email me here.

For more Vintage Engagement Ring inspiration have a look at our Gallery.

Thanks to Stephanie Jory for allowing these photos, have a look at her beautiful portrait painting skills here.

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