When you were younger, you might have borrowed a great uncle or aunt’s wedding ring, slipped it onto your finger, and marveled at how meaningful and ornate these small pieces of jewelry are. You may have even pondered whether one day you might wear one of your own. Did you ever wonder when humans first started to exchange these rings with one another? Did you ever reflect on the placement of certain stones, noting their reminiscence of earlier styles? Perhaps you didn’t, but fortunately, there is much to learn about the vintage wedding bands that are reintroducing themselves into modernity.
The journey of commitment and the symbolism of wedding rings evoke strong feelings of passion and awe in the hearts of people today. Notably, the root of this symbolism runs far into the past. Wedding rings of any kind began to be worn by Egyptian Pharaohs, exchanged to represent cyclical eternity. Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Egyptian empire in the 300s B.C. led the way for the Greek people to embrace this symbol for themselves as well, and they incorporated rings into their relationships. Gold became an admired option for wedding rings by the 2nd Century B.C. and grew to be an indicator of elite status or wealth by the 3rd and 4th centuries CE.
By Medieval times, rings started to incorporate gemstones set in place to represent timeless concepts and intense feelings. Rubies portrayed passion, sapphires depicted the vast heavens, and diamonds symbolized unbreakable strength. By the 8th century, a ring’s place in a wedding ceremony became paramount. In fact, the word “wedding” describes the exchanging of rings along with present consent. Then, in the 12th century, rings gained the recognition of the Catholic church and were labeled a serious part of a holy sacrament— marriage.
Styles Of Vintage Wedding Bands
There is a certain simplicity of the past that men and women still often seek in the clothes and jewelry they wear. Many of these historic styles have resurfaced in today’s engagement rings, but the striking elements of these styles have influenced band designs as well. History usually repeats itself, and vintage designs, metals, and motifs are reappearing in the wedding rings of modern couples. Let’s look through time to see some of the styles that left a mark on the legacy of wedding rings and romance.
The Eternity Band
The Eternity Band may be the most vintage and foundational of all the styles listed here. With roots extending as far back as ancient Egyptian and Grecian cultures, the Eternity band has retained its symbolism for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Originally, this model was marked by a circular snake swallowing its own tail— a picture that has garnered multiple interpretations. In more recent history, the Eternity Band replaced the snake imagery with gems around the full band and is alternatively used as a promise ring or celebration ring. While it is a classic, essential choice for many brides, it is also well-loved for a myriad of other occasions.
The mid 18th century to early 19th century introduced the Georgian period of jewelry. Typically within Georgian rings, the primary metals used to create the bands were 18 Karat gold, but sometimes silver and silver-plated 18K gold were used for both rings and settings. The gemstones of the day used for settings in the rings included rubies, sapphires, pearls, and even small diamonds. Other decorative features for Georgian rings included coral, mother of pearl, blue glass, and even shell.
Early Victorian Era
Bolder and brighter styles came into play in the early Victorian period. While diamonds were not yet completely custom for wedding bands, gemstones were still used to add elegance. The gemstones of this period were usually amethyst, garnet, ruby, and topaz. This early Victorian era also began to incorporate the bride’s birthstone into the ring, which was a special personalization.
By the middle of the Victorian Era, rose gold and silver were greatly central to the fashions of the time, especially for wedding bands. Black glass, opals, and emeralds were the rage for complimentary stones since the diamond rush had not yet happened. In addition to these precious stones, designs such as bees, stars, and daisies were included in wedding bands for an eccentric touch.
In the Late Victorian period, wedding rings as we know them changed forever. Not only were diamonds more popular and accessible, but wedding rings shifted from being handcrafted to being produced in bulk quantities. Platinum also became common for ring settings, and new gemstones took the spotlight. This era featured aquamarine, diamonds, turquoise, chrysoberyl, and peridot. Continuing with the nature motifs of Mid-Victorian fashion, feathers, moons, and birds were popular designs included in these wedding bands.
Moving to even more recognizable styles, the Art Nouveau rings took the early 20th century by storm. These were usually gold-crafted and featured a stained-glass look to them because of enamel works that had come into play. Sizable diamonds were not a common element of Art Nouveau rings, but nature motifs continued on from earlier styles. Gemstones that were typical within Art Nouveau rings were seed pearls, amber, and amethyst.
Overlapping and continuing on from Art Nouveau rings, Edwardian rings also marked the beginning of the century. The mark of these wedding bands was their delicacy and feminine themes. Gold was sometimes used in the making of these rings, but more commonly, platinum and larger diamonds were staple elements to the Edwardian style. Like earlier styles, amethysts and aquamarines were well-loved stones included within the settings of Edwardian rings.
Moving into more recent vintage styles, Art Deco wedding bands made waves in the early 1900s all the way until the 1930s. This style featured geometric shapes based on the time period’s fascination with cubism. Diamonds were fashionable during this time, as well as black opal and quartz crystals. These pieces are still highly recognizable by their flair and their angular characteristics.
You may be familiar with the simplistic sophistication of baguette rings, which were born in this era. The sensationalism of the baguette style was, of course, founded in its symmetrical, innovative shape. The typical styles in years prior were wonderful, but the Art Deco period pioneered new metals and shapes that defied convention and pioneered a fresh look. The sensation of the Art Deco period was only heightened in later years as celebrities started to opt for wearing baguette rings. They are still a sought-after choice for many modern brides seeking a beautiful design that has endured the test of time.
In the mid-30s and mid-40s, retro wedding rings became a historical option, following the bold styles of Art Nouveau rings. Platinum was largely left behind, and gold became a recurrent choice for the band of these rings. Rather than more natural motifs, the historical climate influenced more patriotic motifs of red, white, and blue, even within gemstones. A collaboration between the delicacy of Edwardian styles and the geometric symmetry of Art Deco styles lead to the retro look. However, where Edwardian rings were more modest in their delicacy, retro wedding bands were familiar with sizable diamonds and gemstone settings.
Finally, in the most recent chapter of antique wedding bands, we find the vintage styles of the 1950s. Within the historical setting after World War II, couples who chose to be married could now dream up more comfortable wedding celebrations and distinguished wedding rings to exchange. Diamonds became a coveted staple and an ultimate feature of wedding rings. Rather than the angular designs of the Art Deco period, the 1950’s antique styles showcased rounder shapes and braided twists.
The Noémie Vintage Diamond Band
We are pleased to pay homage to the brilliance of the past. Wedding rings are steeped in a rich heritage, and contemporary luxury is only elevated by referencing their roots. Our Vintage Eternity Band features 14 white diamonds in an 18-karat gold bezel setting. In reference to the well-loved Art Deco styles of the early 20th century, our band highlights elements of intrigue and whimsy through its reminiscent marquise and round shapes.
This new age is bustling with innovation and invention. In a similar fashion, both minimalist, sleek designs and elegant, elaborate designs have been acclaimed and continually loved in the wedding bands of recent years. These styles stand on their own, but sometimes, people are simply longing for a token of the past. They might adore the culture of the roaring twenties or desire to feel connected to a loved one who has since passed through an heirloom. These and many other reasons are more than enough to revisit the vintage styles that brought jewelry to its modern designs.
Newness calls out to every man, woman, and child through bright screens and enticing technology in nearly every corner of life. In quiet moments, many wonder why hand-written love letters are less common. The modern couple may have wonderful new luxuries in their lives, but Vintage designs call to timeless elegance. Good taste is never out of style.