Pros and Cons of Antique Diamonds and Rings

Pros and Cons of Antique Cut Diamonds and Antique Rings as Engagement Rings

If you’re considering an antique cut diamond (or antique ring) for an engagement ring, you might be wondering about the advantages and disadvantages of this option.  We're here to help! Read along for a detailed discussion of some of the considerations you'll want to make.  

Less Expensive / More Economic

Antique cuts actually tend to be less expensive than modern cut earth-mined diamonds if and when you can find them.  Part of this reason is because they don’t require new mining and all of the associated costs that come with that. As a general rule of thumb,  an antique cut of a similar carat weight will be around 20% less expensive than a new modern cut.  This applies to earth-mined stones only.  When comparing an antique diamond to a modern lab-grown Diamond, the difference in price may be negligible (or at least smaller).  The cost of an antique can definitely be an advantage if you're hoping to stay within a certain budget OR if you like the idea of getting 'more' diamond for the same amount of money.  Keep in mind antique diamonds are all a little different.  If you decide you must have a particular 'version' or sub-category of antique stone, it could take a while to find the exact stone.  Sometimes, if a diamond search takes a very long time or is especially difficult -- there may be a fee associated with a particularly extensive search effort.  

Environmental Concerns

Antique diamonds can certainly be seen as an environmentally conscious option.  Vintage stones may not have been sustainable or environmentally friendly when they were first unearthed -- but rest assured they won't come with modern or additional environmental impact.  Furthermore, contemporary mining efforts can be considerably more damaging than archaic methods, so it's likely that the environmental impact of an antique is still less than a diamond pulled from the earth today.  

Warmer Colored Diamonds

Most of the rough diamonds from the past were unearthed in mines that produced warmer-colored diamonds than the active mines today.  This is why most of the antique diamonds you'll find are considerably warmer -- or 'yellower' than modern white diamonds.  Many are in the range of J-M, and you'll be hard pressed to find better colors.  If/when you might, expect the price to increase to match -- as these will be extremely rare.  Some stones are even as far down on the color scale as a P-R.  People who love these stones consider this a feature -- part of the charm of the stone -- and simply the way that it is.  These yellower tones tend to look less 'blingy' and are a bit more subtle or 'natural' than brite white or colorless stones.  If you simply must find a whiter color, it may take a bit longer to locate the perfect stone (and it will likely cost more as well).  

Harder to Find

It is unlikely that you'll be able to walk into a jewelry store and find a selection of antique diamonds.  Typically, these are few and far between, and they are not just 'stocked' unless a jeweler specializes in antique or estate jewelry.  Most jewelers can get these stones upon request, but it will require a conversation with you about what exactly you're looking for, and various stone searches to diamond dealers.  Typically, once a stone is found, a jeweler can provide details and often comparisons between stones.  It is not unlikely that a jeweler could get a stone in for viewing if you think it may be a perfect fit.  

Unique Ring Settings, but Added Considerations

While you can find a variety of antique cuts that are sold as loose diamonds, you may also find a wide range of antique rings containing antique diamonds.  Approach these rings with a solid amount of caution.  Many, if not most, antique settings are problematic or in need of moderate to severe repair.  This is typically because they've been well loved and well worn.  Some repairs can be made, while others cannot, or when they can -- may actually cost you more than having a new setting made from scratch.  While some of the wear and tear or damage on a ring like this might be visible to an un-trained eye, don't count on it.  Someone with a trained eye or a jewelry maker or repairperson is truly the only person who will be able to tell how worn a ring is, what type of repairs it needs or may need in the near future, or how difficult a ring will be to repair.  Sometimes an antique ring has also had many previous repairs, which in itself can be problematic for future repairs, and places of repair can sometimes be very difficult (even for a jeweler) to identify.  This can cause serious issues if a ring needs additional work, as it may literally (and surprisingly) fall apart in unexpected places or ways when re-heated to perform other repair.    At minimum, or in a best-case scenario, the settings and/or prongs on the settings surrounding stone typically need a bit of work, called rebuilding, to ensure that the stones are safe and not at risk of falling out.  For these reasons, we recommend only purchasing an antique ring if you trust the jeweler selling it 100% and they are competent in both ring design and repair.  For all others, we recommend having a new ring created, perhaps even in a custom style reminiscent of an antique -- such as the modern ring we custom made below.  


A popular option is to have ideas or images of antiques you love, and working with a reputable jeweler to recreate a ring or make something entirely new based on the different elements you love.  Jewelers today can craft rings with the same extreme precision of the past, including all of the ornate details you might be attracted to.