Like me, you probably spend way too much time scrolling through Instagram. As a journalist who mainly writes about jewels, I have liked a lot of jewellers over the years, from the heavyweights like Bulgari and Graff to emerging designers whose creations I admire (current favourites: Ioanna Souflia and Brent Neale). My feed is dominated by jewellery and I have many in-my-dreams images saved, just in case I win the lottery.
As a visually stimulating environment, it makes sense that a lot of vintage jewellery retailers use Instagram to promote their products. An image of a ring photographed on the finger, or a video that captures the diamonds scintillating in the sun, is far more compelling than a Photoshopped picture shot on a white background, which gives you no idea of the ring’s size or what it looks like in real life.
If you’re intending on getting engaged with a vintage ring but have never owned a piece of vintage jewellery before, Instagram is the best online resource to use for inspiration (some might argue Pinterest, but the videos and stories on Instagram swing it for me). However, it's a vast space, filled with lots of junk alongside the quality content, so how do you get to the good stuff?
Get to know your hashtags
The hashtags #vintagering and #antiquering are a good place to start. A quick scroll at the time of writing revealed a Victorian mourning ring containing real human hair, a huge gold signet ring, a spectacularly cool 1970s pearl ring and an Art Deco cocktail ring, set with a fabulous opal, that has been saved in the in-my-dreams folder. None of these are especially suitable as an engagement ring (unfortunately pearls and opals are soft, easily damaged gems, which means they should be reserved for special occasions), but you will get an immediate idea of what you are drawn to, and what turns you off, in terms of designs and gemstones.
Curate a collection of your favourite rings
Use the save function liberally and curate your own collection of vintage rings – this will enable you to quickly establish what you like and drill down into the specific features that appeal to you using more targeted hashtags. Whether it is the abstract angles and liberal use of coloured gemstones of the Art Deco era, the vibrancy of sapphires, the authenticity of old cut diamonds or the elegant simplicity of a three stone design that floats your boat, there will be a hashtag to accompany it.
What you will find is that lots of the pieces you encounter are bust-the-budget expensive – the bigger the diamond, the better it looks on Instagram – and this is where you have to reign in your expectations and be more realistic. If you love that Victorian ring set with a 3-carat diamond but only have a budget of £1,500, you are destined for disappointment. Do the research to find out what size diamond you can reasonably expect to buy at that price (the good news is that a pre-owned diamond ring will cost at least 50% less, often more, than the equivalent new diamond ring).
Ready to start searching Instagram for inspiration for your vintage engagement ring? My advice: start big. Browse some of these uber-aspirational accounts to discover some of the most iconic styles through the eras: @leightonjewels; @doyleanddoyle; @sothebysjewels. It’s great to dream, even if real life calls for something a little more understated.
The vintage look for less
If your budget is more around the £1,500 mark, visit us at @thevintageringco. You will discover that that there are lots of beautiful designs out there that are both affordable and unique, and that it is quite possible to turn your dreams of owning a vintage engagement ring into a reality.