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Antique rings: how to find hidden gems

Antique rings


From British marquise to French giardinettos, antique rings wildly differ. Different bands, gemstones, metals, colours, clarities and carats - chances are that you’ll never find two exactly the same.  This of course makes them a hugely popular choice for proposals: antique engagement rings offer a depth, quality and uniqueness you simply cannot replicate with the single-stone diamonds modern jewellers produce. 

Whether you’re a collector or simply browsing antique diamond rings for sale to pop the question with, this guide will give you the lowdown on what’s what in the world of antique rings.

What to look for in antique rings

Antique rings arguably have more character than their modern equivalents, with romantic histories and a range of pretty styles. Diamonds are always in demand because they’re understood by most people, but those looking at how to buy antique engagement rings with truly unique aesthetics shouldn’t overlook the growing popularity of Burmese rubies, Colombian emeralds and velvety blue sapphires from Kashmir. 

Condition is important when it comes to buying antique rings. Gem-set rings should always have original stones in good condition - much of the value is lost if these need replacing. Check the claws for any damage and always look down the carvings down the side of a ring - these can be worn down if the previous wearer has worn it next to other antique rings. 

Different types of antique rings

Antique rings hail back to Egyptian times. Many of them signify different things: Signet rings engraved with a personal seal often denoted status and power, while the plain gold band became the ultimate symbol of betrothal during the Roman era. Here are a few of the most popular types and what they’re worth:

  • Posy antique rings
    A posy is a little sentimental message. These were usually engraved onto the inside of rings and used as engagement or wedding rings. An 18th-century posy can have a value between £400-600.
  • Giardinetto antique rings
    Hugely popular in the 18th-century, these fragile designs demand high prices if you can find a surviving ring in good condition - up to £4,000. Literally meaning ‘a small garden ring’, they’re typically floral-shaped bezels set with small gemstones in different colours.
  • Marquise antique rings
    More delicate ring styles were in-vogue during the Edwardian period. Marquise antique rings are typically set with graduated rows of gemstones. If you’re looking for antique diamond rings for sale, keep an eye out for a marquise: the high-quality, brilliant cuts set into top-value gold are around £2,000 to £4,000.
  • Entwined heart antique rings
    How to buy antique engagement rings that truly wow? Keep your eyes peeled for heart rings. Usually found with two entwined hearts surrounded by a ribbon bow, these designs can value at around £4,000. This can of course vary depending on the size, age and stone-quality. Be sure to find a reputable dealer to source the perfect antique heirloom.
  • Cluster antique rings
    If you’ve ever set foot in a dealers and browsed antique diamond rings for sale, chances are you’ll have spied a cluster ring. While a range of gems were often used to forge these 19th-century rings, diamond was hugely popular. Characterised by a central gemstone circled by smaller gemstones or pearls, the value of these antiques rings can reach up to £1,000.

Where to find antique rings

If you want to find bonafide antique diamond rings for sale, it’s critical you go to a qualified antique dealer or reputable auction house. Gemstone prices have significantly increased and there are a lot of reproductions out there. A qualified dealer of antique rings will guide you through the difference. 

Browse our range of antique rings at Hemswell Antiques and if there are any you fall in love with, there’s no better way to see their shine than in person. From emeralds and sapphires to striking antique diamond rings, our centre is home to a high-quality, wonderfully varied collection at extremely fair prices.

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