When you’re hunting down art deco engagement rings, you’ll sometimes see them referred to as antique rings. Or architectural rings. The style was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and was largely quirky. Art deco turns everyday objects into fashion. It uses elaborate detail, geometric shapes, linear elements, bold colors, handcrafted ideas, and dramatic design.
The style began in France and comes from the French phrase Arts Décoratifs. Art Deco engagement rings have retro appeal and use components like plastic, stainless steel, or chrome plating. It once intersected luxury with technology, and it now recalls old-world glamour and exuberance. So let’s explore some top tips to buy art deco engagement rings.
Art Deco Engagement Rings Buying Guide
Antique rings exude the original art deco flair, but you may need to have them authenticated. Newer art deco pieces might have modern components. They’re not necessarily authentic, but they accurately represent the style. Here are 13 useful tips for art deco engagement rings.
Tip #1: Find the Right Period Piece
You and your beloved might be closet time travelers. In the sense that you may be drawn to a particular historic period. Maybe you enjoy the floral fashion of the swinging sixties or the boho-chic of the 80s. Perhaps you’re regulars at renaissance fairs, or you’re into Camelot, Downton, or Bridgerton. In that case, look for jewelry tied to that specific fashion period.
Otherwise, you may want historic pieces in general. So remember, not all antique rings are art deco rings. Every period had set characteristics. Here are the six main eras of jewelry:
- Georgian (1714-1837) – high carat gold or silver and crude cuts
- Victorian (1837-1901) – mineraloids with animal motifs like snakes
- Art Nouveau (1890-1910) – organic freeform and asymmetry
- Edwardian (1901-1915) – intricate flowery filigrees and milgrains
- Art Deco (1920-1945) – platinum shanks and colored stones
- Retro (1939-1950) – bolder pieces and colored gold
So if you specifically want art deco engagement rings, look for geometry and linear designs. Platinum was coming into fashion and popular gemstones included onyx, rubies, sapphires, diamonds, and emeralds. Symmetry was crucial with clean lines, acute angles, and structure.
Tip #2: Spot the Clone
A top tip when you’re buying an expensive engagement ring is to get a clone. Ideally, it should be a faux version of the same ring. Meaning the stones and shank look similar – sometimes indistinguishable from the real ring – but it’s made of cheaper materials. That way, if it gets lost or damaged during your beloved’s daily activities, there’s no harm done.
But when you’re shopping for art deco engagement rings, the opposite is equally true. You want to be sure you’re not buying a knockoff or investing in costume jewelry. This can be tricky if you’re rifling through the attic or buying pretty pieces at estate sales. But try getting a certificate, lab report, or family history to authenticate your antique engagement ring.
Tip #3: Start at the Costume Shop
This serves three purposes. One, you’ll get familiar with fake jewelry, so it may be a little easier recognizing a real one. Two, you’ll get a clear idea of the type of ring your beloved wants without necessarily tipping them off to the proposal. Three, the costume ring they choose could become their clone ring for daily use. They can leave the real one in the safe.
Your beloved might still figure out you’re shopping for their art deco engagement ring. So if you want a surprise proposal, you’ll have to be cleverer than just saying ‘Let’s go to the clown store!’ You could be sneaky by shopping on Halloween, even if you don’t plan to propose ‘til Valentines. Or host a mid-year fancy-dress party – it’s a valid excuse to shop for costumes!
Tip #4: Inspect the Settings
Does your beloved care about verification? Would s/he care that it’s an authentic art deco piece or be just as happy with a contemporary replica? Not costume jewelry mind you, just a modern ring designed in period style? If the piece must be genuine, consider it could be a hundred years old. So pay special attention to the ring’s prongs, claws, and tension points.
The stones are likely to be loose, cracked, or snagged, so see if they need to be reset. And decide whether they can be repaired without ‘voiding the warranty’ or messing with the bona fides of the ring. These changes could be part of the ring’s updated lab report if your fiancé(e) is finicky about such things. And those details are important for insurance reasons too.
Tip #5: Get Into Shape
We’ve mentioned lines and geometric patterns were important art deco qualities. So whether you’re scouring flea markets or designing an art-deco-leaning ring, look for linear cuts like emerald, marquise, square, rectangle baguette, triangle, or pear. The emphasis is on the shape, not the specific features, so a princess cut and radiant cut can both pass for art deco.
Badges and banners are popular, and they’re easily achieved by setting stones of different shapes and colors into symmetrical patterns. The more contrast, the better. You could even sneak in some mineraloid cabochon gemstones. Opal, onyx, coral, and pearl were popular. Or pick black-and-white motifs by mingling diamonds with black enamel on platinum bands.
Tip #6: Dig into Detail
Art deco engagement rings are never simple. You want larger-than-life elements and fine detail. The rings were made with die-cast machines so lots of filigree and milgrain spilling over from Edwardian jewelry. Plus the focus was on gemstones in bold colors (black, white, red, blue, green). So to minimize metal, coils, swirls, and lattices were introduced.
So look for rings with embellished shanks. Pavés and Channels are good because they emphasis gemstone use, draw attention back to the shank, and reduce the amount of metal involved. Boxy settings are good because they reinforce geometry. Halos are good too – both hidden ones and overt ones – because they focus your attention on the art deco gemstones.
Tip #7: Be Sure About Sizing
Yes, it’s cathartic when your beloved says yes. And when you see that glint in his or her eye from a ring that’s the perfect size and fit. But with art deco engagement rings, the shank is highly detailed with minimal metal. It may be etched, twisted, or engraved. Or it may be so old that you’re worried fiddling with the band could disintegrate that ductile metal to bits.
So if you opt for art deco, take extra steps to get the right ring fit. Because resizing a well-made art deco ring is close to impossible. Also, white metal was more popular than yellow metal during that era. But white metals are more likely to contain nickel, which could cause allergies. So if your intended has sensitive skin, shell out the extra cash and buy platinum.
Tip #8: Expect Imperfection
Most art deco engagement rings are pre-loved, and some are even antique. So expect dents and scratches, but don’t turn up your nose. Use a loupe to study the ring carefully – you want to be sure you can live with those blemishes. And you don’t want a surprise when your beloved spots a flaw you hadn’t noticed. Also, expect the gems to sparkle less – they’re old.
It’s not just their chronological age – cutting tools weren’t as advanced back then, so stones had fewer facets, which means they were darker and sparkled less. You may also find warmer, yellower diamonds below the I or J range – these were more common for evening wear. For older rings, check the metal marks for % of platinum, sterling, or carat punches.
Tip #9: Cross Out Contemporary Tip-Offs
If your spouse-to-be isn’t big on provenance, you can order a new ring in art deco style. But you still want the ring to have authentic style and ambiance. So check that the metal is white – even if it’s titanium or white gold. Avoid modern cuts like trilliant, brilliant, radiant, or princess – step cuts and cabochons are best. For mineraloids, use period-friendly variants.
These include coral, carnelian, and moonstone (plus the others we mentioned like onyx and pearl). Bezel settings (sometimes called rub-over) settings were common, so prioritize those over modern stone styling. Grain settings are a thing as well, with or without gemstones. If it doesn’t have gemstones, the grain setting follows the milgrain pattern we mentioned earlier.
Tip #10: Raid Your Beloved’s Jewellery Chest
Art deco engagement rings can range from bejeweled signet-style rings to clunky cluster rings. You could get thousand-dollar diamonds or shiny but low-cost moonstones. So take a good look at the kind of jewelry your fiancé(e) likes to wear. Inspect the pieces they wear every day, not just the fancy things they keep for big events. That’ll dictate your purchase.
If they prefer simple pieces – or if they have active lifestyles and hands-on jobs, get something with a simpler bezel setting or flush setting. You could also opt for the harder stones rather than the softer mineraloids that will scratch or chip. But if your beloved likes their rings loud, get the garish designs, possibly with a clone they can wear out and about.
Tip #11: Cleanse the Ring
This step can be especially important for antique art deco rings. They’ve probably been on multiple fingers (and other places too!). So get it professionally sanitized to avoid damaging the jewelry. On a related note, the kind of person that wants an art deco engagement ring is likely to be spiritual and artsy. So they may worry about the … energies around this art deco.
If that’s the case, look more carefully into the history of the ring. You don’t have to visit a psychic or tarot reader, but you could ask about the family or previous owners. And even if you’re not particularly new-agey, you could have the ring wafted in sage or lavender. You could even just waft it with a humidifier or diffuser if that’ll make your lover happier …
Tip #12: Find Cultural Links
Many art deco engagement rings had regional signifiers. Global travel was more common, not just with explorers and commercial trips but also with the world wars. So jewelry from that period had hints of Egyptian, Native American, Asian, and African influence. If your partner has roots or ties to any of those places, you could easily slip in some significance.
You could use accent stones related to their roots. Or you could use birthstones and other stones that have personal or spiritual meaning. For an art-deco-styled ring, acrostics can be especially emotional. Start with the ‘approved’ colors and gemstones from that era and use them to spell out your beloved’s name, an important anniversary, or even your pet names.
Tip #13: Opt for Colour Blocks
We’ve mentioned the importance of color several times. And while acrostic rings are a good way to play up colored gemstones, color blocking is even more dramatic. And it was a top characteristic of that era. Hence the badges and banners styled onto rings. So if you’re designing an art-deco-style ring, choose gemstones in colored clusters to create that effect.
You could – for example – set a diamond center stone with a halo in emeralds, rubies, or aquamarine. Or you could have a white center stone and colored Channel-set stones along the band since Channel was the top shank style at the time. You could even go for double halos in sapphire and jade around a J diamond. But don’t forget to keep the metals white!
Top 13 Art Deco Engagement Rings
From 1920s junkyard rescues to contemporary couture, here are 13 art deco rings we love. Many rings on this list are art-deco-inspired. Meaning they’re new rings designed in art deco style. So you could order them from here or use these concepts as you shop. Let’s begin!
1. Platinum Art Deco Diamond Ring
This art deco engagement ring is built off diamond shapes. The round center stone has a diamond-shaped halo around it. And it’s flanked by twin trios in diamond-shaped bezels.
2. Yellow Gold Art Deco Inspired Octagon Ring
You already know yellow gold isn’t authentic as an art deco shank. But the octagon halo, the milgrain detail, the square side stones, the encrusted shank, and the bezels are all typical.
3. Rose Gold Art Deco Inspired Flower Ring
On this floral art deco engagement ring, the round center stone is hugged by bejeweled petals on six sides. But to be truly art deco, you need white metal and color-blocked gems.
4. White Gold Flower Halo Art Deco Ring
This ring is more in keeping with art deco styling. The half-moon flower petals are interspersed with diamond-shaped bezels. The shank is 14k white gold with F or G stones.
5. Art Deco Inspired Fleur-de-Lis Ring
The lily motif is typically art deco. Especially paired with sparkly side stones and milgrain. The open setting facilitates extra shine and the knife-edge shank flows from the lily tip.
6. Platinum Ruby Art Deco Ring
Finally – some color! This platinum ring has options for shaped and colored stones, so cycle through the images. If you click ‘oval’ you can see a truly art deco version with a ruby.
7. Lab-Created True Hearts Art Deco Ring
True Hearts is a brand-specific marker. It identifies James Allen cuts with hearts, starbursts, and arrows in their reflective pattern. This lab-grown gemstone is F-coloured and is 1.57ct.
8. Yellow Gold 18k Art Deco-Inspired Ring
Linear stones were popular for art deco engagement rings. But since this one is stylized rather than authentic, it uses an east-west cushion-cut stone and 18k yellow gold instead.
9. Asscher Cut Art Deco-Inspired Ring
It’s sometimes hard to tell cuts apart. But compare this east-west Asscher with the east-west cushion in the previous ring. The colored metal (rose vs yellow gold) also shifts the mood.
10. Fleur-de-Lys Art Deco-Inspired Ring
The twin milgrain lily side stones on this 14k yellow gold ring give it a distinct art deco echo. You could pick colored stones for the sides, and that would make it more period-leaning.
11. Art Deco Inspired Princess Cut Ring
Princess cuts started in the 60s as ‘profile cuts’ before securing their hold in the 80s. So it’s technically not art deco. But the two-stone lily chevrons and milgrain are true to the period.
12. Rose Gold Fleur-de-Lys Art Deco-Inspired Ring
Here’s a clever way to style smaller stones. The center stone is about half a carat with two more on either side. But the setting has an open back with angular swirls for added sparkle.
13. Fancy Yellow Art Deco-Inspired Ring
We’re closing the list with a yellow stone in a modified cushion cut (its ratio is rectangular). The color and sparkle hide inclusions better so you can get away with a lower SI2 grading.
What’s your favorite art deco engagement ring? Show us some photos in the comments!