Antique and Vintage Engagement Rings - a few tips

If you have received a beautiful antique engagement ring over the Christmas period here are a couple of tips for taking care of it.
If your ring isn’t a perfect fit try not to rush into the resizing too quickly. (By which I mean don’t make a decision based on two minutes in a shop, with your coat on and the heating blaring, or freezing cold having just walked in from outside).
I meet a lot of people who have their rings resized twice, as they don’t take the time to get some idea of how their fingers are going to fluctuate before committing to a size. Everyone’s fingers are different, and yours will have their own personality in relation to temperature and various other factors. Take a few days to notice so that when you do get your fingers measured you can be aware of whether they are feeling large or small at least, when you confirm your size.
I’m always slightly suspicious when someone quotes me a quarter ring size they have been given in a shop, that may have been absolutely perfect at that exact moment in time, but everyone has some level of variation and it’s only possible to be so exact.
My fingers fit a full 2 sizes smaller when I’m cold. I really don’t like my rings tight so I wear them right at the top of the comfortable range and they are quite loose when it is cold, but I can’t stand them feeling tight. I do have quite fleshy fingers so not everyone will have quite so much range.
Depending on where you bought your ring it may have been refurbished in advance, if not it’s worth having a good look at it to see if it needs any work.
Many antique rings have claw settings, these tiny claws hold the stones in whilst letting plenty of light through, it’s a great way to show off a sparkly stone like a diamond but it’s important to be aware that these little claws can wear down with time, and if not maintained you can lose your precious gems.
If your ring has lots of teeny stones it’s probably worth having the settings checked every couple of years, and if you lose a stone do take it to be repaired as soon as possible, as if one comes loose it can affect the support of those around it and you are in greater danger of losing more.
You do need someone with a laser machine, and possibly a microscope for this so it’s not something I can help with in my basic workshop I’m afraid.
I would always advise taking off stone set jewellery when washing up or doing anything particularly messy. This will help keep the ring clean as dirt can easily build up under the settings which is difficult to clean without a professional ultrasonic machine. It’s also easy for tiny stones to come loose and disappear in these moments. I have a friend who lost the diamond from her engagement ring in a compost heap whilst working in the garden!
Do be aware a lot of older rings weren’t designed for heavy duty day to day wear, some of the styles popular at the moment actually predate the wearing of engagement rings. This doesn’t mean they can’t be worn every day, just be slightly sensible about what you are doing when wearing your ring.
Wedding bands
If your ring is an unusual shape it’s worth leaving a bit of time to find a ring which is a good fit with it. The buying process for wedding and engagement rings is a little odd as you buy a pair of rings that will sit together, separately, often with a large gap between the two.
It’s really up to you as to whether you want them to feel like a pair, some people really like to get a matching set look if possible and some people prefer that they feel a little different, but compliment each other, particularly if one is much older.
The general advice is to stick with the same metal so that the two rings won’t wear each other. I’ve never actually managed to find anyone who has had a problem with this happening. A recent customer was told by another jeweller that if she lived to be 400 her platinum engagement ring might wear away at her gold wedding ring, and I think he was probably right. Most people do opt for the same metal but if your heart is really set on a contrast I would just go for styles that sit well together, as long as one isn’t digging into the other in an odd way it will probably be fine.
If you have a very old ring with the stones set in silver, rather than white gold or platinum, I probably wouldn’t put this next to a very hard metal like platinum as silver is really quite soft in comparison, but matching different carats of gold isn’t normally an issue.
If you are looking for a bespoke wishbone or shaped band to sit around your engagement ring, this is where I can help.
I normally make a silver mock up so that we can agree what shape will work best, and get a perfect fit, before copying this shape into the final metal.
Send me an email with an image of your ring to start the process.
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