Choosing an engagement ring for your intended (or indeed yourself) can be quite daunting for some. You might be lucky enough to know exactly what you (or she) want(s). Or, more likely, you might need a bit of advice and guidance. Here at Trafalgar we think a great place to start your search is in the vintage and antique marketplace. There are tonnes of reasons why it's a good idea to choose a second-hand engagement ring over a brand new ring from a high street jeweller. We've whittled those tonnes of reasons down to what we think are the most compelling top five...
1. One In a Million
You've made the decision. You want to spend the rest of your life with her. There is no one else, she's the one - one in a million. Then it makes logical sense to show her how you feel with the engagement ring you choose. Vintage and antique engagement rings were crafted by hand, by artisan master jewellers. Each piece with its own unique details, style and appearance. No two are ever the same. A vast contrast to modern day machine made, mass produced carbon copies. She's one in a million so she deserves a one in a million engagement ring!
2. VAT Margin Scheme
If you have doubts about going down the second hand route we think this one will help sway you. It only applies to sales completed in Europe, but that is where all the best antique jewellery comes from! Most antique and vintage jewellery dealers will sell on 'the margin'. As the ring has already been bought once, the VAT (value added tax) has been paid to the government. VAT is only charged once. That means buying a second-hand engagement ring saves you 20 per cent of the value of the equivalent new ring. Definitely a 'no brainer'...
3. Old-cut Diamonds and Gemstones
Over recent years demand for old European and old mine-cut diamonds has soared. Before modern computer imaging, lasers and other gem wizardry, the cuts of diamonds and gems were much less precise. The finished look of the cut gem is the result of the whim of the cutter and the connection he had with the rough material. The softer look of these gemstones and the way they reflect light has an appeal that modern, clinical cutting just can't match. As time went by, these old gemstones were bought up to be re-cut and polished into modern shapes. Now scarce, ancient stones are snapped up by connoisseurs eager to add to their collection. Coveted, collectable and irreplaceable.
4. Hand Made by Master Craftsmen
100 years ago, when a ring was designed the drawings were passed to a bench jeweller. Back then a working jeweller was a person of exceptional talent, skill and experience. He would interpret the drawings, fashioning precious metal with skill and dexterity learned only by hands on experience. Attention to details of the most minute existence. A single piece would not be complete until he was happy. Each ring reflecting the artistic style of its creator, adorned with impossibly small decoration, detailing and finishing touches. Modern, machine made jewellery just can't compete with the high quality of an ancient, hand-crafted masterpiece.
5. History and Provenance
As Elizabeth Taylor said:
"I’ve never thought of my jewellery as trophies. I’m here to take care of it and to love it, for we are only temporary custodians of beauty."
Sometimes you may be lucky enough to know the full provenance of the ring you have acquired. More often than not, you may have no idea. It's impossible to resist the allure of owning something with provenance - not necessarily that it was owned by royalty or nobility, but just knowing that it was owned by someone from a very distant time. An heirloom that you're simply guarding for a while. If only diamonds could talk. Imagine the lovers of bygone times and of times to come when you're long gone. The swelling hearts of young women and trembling hands of nervous young men, waiting with bated breath for the answer. How terribly romantic...
Antique and vintage jewellery has something that no modern pieces can compete with: age. Sure, you can go out right now and pick a single stone diamond ring in four claws. The shinest, brightest diamond in the shop window. They're not rare. You can even demand exact degrees of accurancy in the cutting of the gemstone. Clinical, robotic, machined perfection. But where's the romance in that?
Just five reasons why you should consider an antique or vintage engagement ring. Five very good reasons. Style, value, quality, individuality and the one that sways us all, the irresistible romance of history. You can see some of the antique and vintage pieces we offer by looking through our ever changing inventory of antique, Art Deco and vintage diamonds: Trafalgar Jewellers