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YOUR GUIDE TO ANTIQUE ENGAGEMENT RINGS

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Many couples today are choosing to mark their engagement with an antique, or antique-style ring. For some, this choice comes from a desire for a ring as unique and special as their relationship; others love the sense of old-fashioned romance in their design.

Most antique engagement rings on the market today date from the late 1800s through the 1950s. Victorian era jewelry is often in yellow or rose gold; some rings are quite simple, with a single Old Mine or Old European Cut diamond; others have a row of antique diamonds, or deep, intricate carving. It was during this time that Tiffany introduced its classic diamond solitaire.

White gold and platinum became a popular choice for engagement rings in the early twentieth century. The Edwardian bride often wore a ring with a filigree design, a technique of piercing metal to create an intricate, openwork look. Art Deco wedding rings sometimes have a more geometric shape, with diamonds set in steps on each side of the center stone. Bridal jewelry of the 1930s-40s feature delicately engraved patterns, and romantic, feminine carvings.

When shopping for a vintage or estate engagement ring, it is important to inspect the condition of the piece. The prongs holding the center diamond, and any small stones, should be solid and secure. The shank of the ring (the part that extends around the back of the finger) should be of sufficient thickness; this, of course, can be replaced in the future if necessary. Keep in mind that your engagement ring will be worn everyday; therefore, it is wise to choose either a newly made antique-style ring, or a vintage ring in very good condition.

Properly caring for your antique engagement ring is important to keeping it beautiful. If you use hand cream, it is recommended to rinse your ring under hot water each night (don't forget to put the stopper in the sink!) to keep grease, and dirt, from building up on the diamond. You can also use a baby's toothbrush and mild toothpaste to gently scrub the diamond. Do not scrub the metal part of the ring, as this can cause scratches; use a jeweler's polishing cloth to renew the shine of the gold or platinum.