When searching for a one-of-a-kind engagement ring for your big proposal, consider choosing an antique diamond ring. This is a particularly good idea if you don't want to give your future wife a ring that looks like every other engagement ring at the jewelry store in the mall. Buying an estate ring can be tricky, though, so pay attention to the following tips before you shop:
Look For Features Unique To Antiques
Antique jewelry is typically defined as any piece that was made before 1930. Using a jeweler's loupe, closely examine the inside of the band for a maker's mark or hallmark stamp. If you do find markings inside the ring, it will be much easier to research the piece online to determine its origin and value.
If you cannot find any type of marking inside the ring, you may have your work cut out for you unless you find a knowledgeable antique jewelry appraiser who can figure out when the ring was made. Some methods an antique jewelry professional may use to determine its date of manufacture include:
- Craftsmanship: Antique jewelry differs from contemporary jewelry because it often includes design elements that are rarely used anymore. For example, the ring may have a different type of prong securing the stone than you'll find on a modern ring.
- Cut of the diamond: If the estate ring is a true antique, it will likely have a traditional old-style type of cut instead of a modern cut.
- Style of the setting: The setting on an antique ring often covers more of the diamond than the settings of younger rings.
If possible, try to do some research before you buy. Take pictures of the ring and compare them to photos online of well-known antique rings. Of course, if you're at an estate sale, you may not have time to do this before the sale ends and the ring is gone forever.
Examine The Ring For Signs Of Age
Unless the ring has been restored, its finish should show some signs of patina because of its age. However, be cautious here because there are ways to create the look of patina on a modern ring. In fact, many people patina their jewelry just because they like the way it looks.
If the ring was truly manufactured before 1930, it should show other signs of age, such as:
- A lackluster shine
- Dents or dings
Most antique estate jewelry is sold as-is to avoid damaging the metals and precious stones. If the ring looks brand new, find out whether or not it has been restored. If it hasn't, the ring is probably not an authentic antique.
Ask For Documentation
If you find the perfect diamond engagement ring at an estate sale or antique jewelry store, ask to see its certificate of authenticity. It's not uncommon for a genuine diamond ring to have some sort of documentation proving its authenticity. Unfortunately, this certificate may be long gone, especially if the ring is almost a century old. If there's no documentation to prove it's the real deal, have the ring appraised by an appraiser who has no affiliation with the seller.
Although you're wise to have the ring immediately appraised after purchase, common sense can sometimes tell you whether or not an estate ring is authentic. If the price of the ring is too good to be true, proceed with caution. For instance, if you find a half-karat diamond ring at an antique jewelry store for a hundred bucks, common sense tells you that you've either found the deal of the century or it's simply not authentic.