How to Choose a Coloured Gemstone for Your Vintage Engagement Ring

The diamond solitaire: iconic symbol of love and queen of engagement rings. However, over the past few years, more couples are exploring the world of possibilities beyond the traditional solitaire ring, which has fueled the rise in popularity of rings incorporating vintage design elements and coloured gemstones.

Picking out your forever ring can be a tough call. We’re here to offer some guidance on what to consider when choosing which gemstone is for you.


The hardness of your gemstone matters


There are no rules when it comes to aesthetic – you are one of a kind and your engagement ring should reflect that. But what about when it comes to practicality?

The term ‘vintage’ refers to anything that’s 20 years or older in age. That means there’s already an element of fragility implied. It is important to also bear in mind that certain gemstones are more hardwearing than others. Pick the right stone and you can rest assured that your vintage engagement ring will continue to sparkle for years to come.

Engagement rings are best set with hard-wearing gemstones that rank high on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. This means that they will be resilient enough to withstand daily wear and tear. Just below the mighty diamond, which scores a resounding 10/10, sapphires and rubies rate a tough 9, making them ideal stones for a forever ring. Sapphires are characteristic of jewels from the Victorian era, their popularity during this time due largely to Queen Victoria’s fondness for this regal blue stone. Sumptuous wine-coloured rubies can be found in our Edwardian Violette and Ava rings.

Below them, more affordable gemstones like spinel, topaz and alexandrite score an impressive 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness – making them solid candidates for engagement rings, too. However, these gemstones are traditionally not regarded as highly as the ‘cardinal gems’, only finding their way into the mainstream engagement ring market in recent years thanks to the demise of the Three Months’ Salary Rule and a loosening of engagement ring conventions. This means they’re a rare spot if you’re shopping vintage.

If you plan on wearing your engagement ring every day, we’d advise against gemstones that score any lower than a 7 on hardness. Unfortunately, beautiful gems like pearls and opals score only 2.5 and 6 respectively, so are best suited to special occasion pieces.


Certain gemstones have special meanings

You’re choosing one of the most important pieces of jewellery you’ll ever own and this is your chance to truly express yourself. For many, the fun in picking which gem should take pride of place is considering the myriad of symbolic meanings, traditional beliefs and folklore stories behind each type of stone. In choosing a vintage engagement ring, you’re reclaiming a jewel that already has a long and beautiful history of its own. In picking the ring based on the deep-rooted symbolism of its centre stone, you’re offering it a second lease of life by embellishing it with a new layer of meaning – one that’s personal to you.

Perhaps there’s one month of the year that’s particularly important to you? The birthstone phenomenon could be one to consider if you’d like your engagement ring to carry a personal meaning. If your loved one entered the world in May, a vintage engagement ring set with an emerald would be a considerate gesture. If your proposal is planned for October, then a sparkling tourmaline could tie everything together thoughtfully.

Throughout history and across the globe, royal blue sapphires have long been attributed with amuletic powers. In ancient times it was believed they protected their wearers from evil. Later on, medieval kings donned these indigo gemstones as a means to protect themselves from their enemies.

Deep-red rubies have, for thousands of years, symbolised love, passion and a zest for life, making them the perfect stone to commemorate a new chapter in your blooming relationship.


Pre-loved gemstone engagement rings are always more affordable 

The appeal of going vintage is not just environmental and sentimental, but financial, too. In choosing to reclaim a pre-loved engagement ring instead of buying new, you’re granted access to a world of bigger possibilities and smaller price tags. Suddenly, a large gemstone is not so out of reach.

If birthstones and hidden meanings aren’t for you, you might simply find joy in good value for money. This is why diamonds, sapphires and rubies are such an appealing choice when looking for your vintage engagement ring. After all, where could you find a new ring sporting 0.33ct of rubies for £230? Or an ethical, newly mined 1.61ct sapphire ring for less than £1,500?

In buying a vintage engagement ring you’re making zero negative impact on our planet – so why not reward yourself in return?


Thank you for reading! Still need answers that we haven’t provided in this article? Get in touch today – we’re happy to help.

Our mission? To hunt out vintage engagement rings below £2,000 

Claire Roberts, co-founder of The Vintage Ring Company