Buying jewelry in NYC can be, at the same time, both the easiest and hardest thing in the world. The city is home to one of the largest jewelry centers in the world. This means it is also home to some of the world’s best jewelry houses. And yet, the choice can be overwhelming.
Vintage Engagement Rings in New York City
- Estate Diamond Jewelry. Visit Website.
- Fred Leighton. Visit Website.
- Erie Basin. Visit Website.
- Stephen Kahan. Visit Website.
- M. Khordipour. Visit Website.
It’s probably fair to say that all budgets and tastes are catered for, but that doesn’t always mean there’s an easy starting point. You may know what you want, but not where to get it. This can be especially true for vintage and antique engagement rings. With modern designs, it can sometimes feel like you’re looking at the same tray of rings over and over. The beauty of jewelry with a little history is that it is often very different. So what does it take to find and buy that perfect antique engagement ring?
A Brief History Of Jewelry In New York
The history of jewelry design and manufacture in NYC is an interesting one. The NY diamond district originally centered on of Maiden Lane in the late 1880s. The influx of skilled European immigrants caused a rapid expansion of the trade and the area it covered. Over the decades, the district edged northward to its current center between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. The biggest expansion period came in the 1940s when Jewish diamond merchants came to New York from Antwerp and Amsterdam. Fleeing Nazi oppression, they made their homes and businesses close to the diamond district.
New York had long been home to world-renowned houses such as Tiffany & Co, and others soon joined them. As the world’s focus came to bear on the city, so the range and quality of the jewelry available increased. It wasn’t long before the city became one of the world’s leading diamond and jewelry centers. Today, New York is home to more global fashion and jewelry houses than almost any city on earth.
In jewelry, the terms vintage and antique are reasonably well defined. Antique is anything over 100 years old, and vintage is usually anything over 50 and less than 100 years old. We say “usually”, because the term is all too often applied to anything in a style that simply depicts age, rather than actually having age. Jewelry which is vintage will “grow up” to be antique, and so the available choices are ever changing in both style and number.
Jewelers such as Estate Diamond Jewelry, which hold a large range of vintage engagement rings, tend to specialize in vintage and antique jewelry. That’s not to say that there isn’t some crossover because there obviously is. But vintage engagement rings, in particular, benefit from the knowledge that experience brings. A lot of diamonds which were cut prior to the introduction of modern laser cutting techniques are also available. Some of these are in settings which, by reason of wear and tear or accident are no longer displayed for sale. Instead, the diamonds are reset into new, but entirely sympathetic designs. Estate Diamond Jewelry take great care in how old European and old mine cut diamonds are re-set, believing that they deserve to be shown at their very best.
Finding Vintage Engagement Rings
You could wander around New York all day and not pass the same jewelry store twice. While this is a good thing in terms of the range of choice and prices, it can make for a long and tiring exercise. There are a number of stores, however, which you can rely on to provide a superior service and great choice. As well as Estate Diamond Jewelry, there are other great New York stores like M. Khordipour and Fred Leighton. M Khordipour specializes in vintage, antique and estate jewelry, of amazing quality, as well as a collection of loose gemstones. Fred Leighton takes a slightly different tack and re-work vintage stones into entirely new designs.
For a couple of different destinations, there are Erie Basin and Stephen Kahan. Visiting the Erie Basin store does require a little more effort, as it is over in Brooklyn, but it is well worth the effort for their amazing treasure trove of furniture as well as vintage engagement rings. Stephen Kahan has been serving the discerning Manhattan jewelry buyers for over 30 years. Specializing in fine estate jewelry they also offer bespoke design and restoration services.
What To Look For In A Vintage Ring
Vintage engagement rings have something of their own distinct style about them. Older diamonds, for example, are rarely the pristine, perfectly symmetrical affairs of today. Instead, that they are hand-cut and every so slightly “off” is one of the most charming things about vintage and antique diamonds. It also makes them utterly unique.
As skilled as diamond cutters were at the time, look for small things which might mean getting more for your money. Diamonds in vintage rings are rarely cut to rounded carat or half carat sizes. Often they will be weights which don’t appear on any pricing chart. Traditionally, diamond prices aren’t calculated in anything but full and half carats, and so you might be able to get a little more for your money if you choose a ring with a stone slightly under the next full carat weight.
In modern bands, we generally see either platinum or white gold being used. White gold today, though, is different from half a century ago, or more. Previously, nickel would have been used to whiten the yellow gold. The problem with this is that many people suffer reactions to nickel, and contact dermatitis is an issue with nickel-based bands. Now, rhodium plating is the common method of creating white gold. Rhodium is much less likely to cause a problem when in contact with the skin for extended periods.
Follow Your Heart
If you’re considering a vintage engagement ring, it’s likely that you already have a desire to be different. Vintage rings often have designs which just aren’t found today. The level of craftsmanship is exquisite, and much more personal than machine manufactured pieces.
Vintage, and antique, engagement rings are like no other jewelry. The effort that went into making them and everything they represent makes them the perfect match.