The Pieces that Should be on Every Antique / Vintage Jewelry Collector's Bucket List

Every antique/vintage jewelry collector has those bucket list pieces that they hope to be able to some day add to their collection.  As an avid antique jewelry collector myself, I believe there are certain pieces that should be in every well-rounded collection.  

Gemstone & Diamond Ballerina Ring
Ballerina Rings derive their name from the view they provide when looked down upon giving the appearance of ballerina with her skirt twirling around her.  They have been one of my favorite ring styles since I can remember.  They scream "Old Hollywood Glamor" in a way that few rings do.  I've written about Ballerina Rings before, which you can read here.  

This Sapphire & Diamond Ballerina Ring in platinum from Solvang Antiques on Ruby Lane is an amazing example of the classic style.  It features a large natural sapphire surrounded by tapered baguette diamonds giving the unmistakeable appearance of the twirling skirt of the prima ballerina.

Georgian Flat-Cut Garnets
Think of Georgian flat-cut garnets in terms of "slices."  The gemstones are cut thin with a flat top, the faceted portion of the stone is then set inward.  Many times, the stones are foiled to give them a subtle sheen and translucence.

This Georgian Almandine Garnet Eternity Ring from The Antique Jewellery Company has long since sold but is such a great example that it would be hard to justify not including it in this photo lineup.  The garnets are cut very thin & backed with foil to increase their translucency.  The overall effect is subtle, beautiful & a perfect example of foiled gemstones from the period. 

Vintage or Antique Wedding Bands 
Great for stacking, I have loved antique and vintage wedding bands for decades.  I particularly love the ones with personalized engravings inside with dates or names.  Feel free to mix-and-match metals and/or gemstones for a truly unique and one-of-a-kind look!

Antique wedding bands in a mix of metals & gemstones make the perfect stacking rings.  This is a sampling from my personal collection that I like to mix with one of my solitaires or as a simple right-hand stack.  I can mix-&-match with any outfit & it give me the flexibility to customize.  From top: Emerald, Sapphires & Diamonds, Rubies & Diamonds, Orange Sapphires.

Portrait Jewelry
In early portrait jewelry, the individual's portrait could be painted on ivory under crystal or was painted using enamel.  I have always been fascinated with faces and looking at antique portrait jewelry causes the mind to wander, thinking about the life of the individual featured in the piece.  Who were they?  What did they do?  What was their life like?  You can tell a lot about the person by how they were portrayed.  Are their clothes that of someone from the upper echelons of society and during what time period?

Here is an example of an early 19th Century Portrait Ring from F.D. Gallery with a stunning diamond surround.

Victorian Mourning Jewelry
To me, the most romantic of all jewelry is Victorian Mourning jewelry.  Originally made popular by Queen Victoria upon the death of her husband, mourning jewelry is a way to have a memory of someone dearly loved with you at all times.  An epic love story that cannot be tamped out even by the coldness of death.  To read more about mourning jewelry from the expert in the field, click here to read Part I of my series with Hayden Peters.  Part II can be found here.

This Georgian Diamond Urn Motif & Enamel Ring from Jewels by Grace is an exceptional, museum-worthy example of antique mourning jewelry.  This ring is simply stunning & is a piece of art in & of itself!  On a personal note, I have been coveting this ring from the first moment that I saw it on Grace's Instagram feed & have delusions of someday finding a similar one or being lucky enough to purchase this stunner!

Victorian 3- or 5-Stone Diamond Bands
Another classic for every antique jewelry collector is the Victorian 3- or 5-stone diamond band.  These are making a resurgence in popularity as the perfect wedding band to wear both with or without an engagement ring.  They are also a great addition to any ring stack!

This stunning, circa 1880 example of a Victorian 5-Stone Diamond Band was sold by A. Brandt + Son Antique and Estate Jewelry.  It is modeled in 18k yellow gold with a total carat weight of 1.60 carats giving it enough heft to wear alone or next to any engagement ring.

Toi et Moi Ring
Meaning "you and me" this ring style is sometimes referred to as a "bypass" ring due to the unique way the two stones are offset from one another.  Arguably, the most famous toi et moi ring is the one given to Josephine by Napoleon that featured a diamond and a sapphire representing the uniting of two unique people.  If you want to read more about the style and history of this setting, click here.

This sweet little Toi et Moi Diamond Ring is available on Etsy from Galerie Penelope.  This adorable little floral number is from the 1960s but the sentiment is as hold as the design itself dating back to Napoleon & Josephine.  What says love more than the phrase, "You and Me?"

Sugarloaf Gemstones
Sugarloaf cut gemstones are similar in style to the classic cabochon cut and brings out the natural colors of a gemstone.  However, instead of being simply rounded like the traditional a cabochon, a sugarloaf comes to a gentle point like the top of a mountain.  I prefer the sugarloaf cut over the traditional cabochon, personally.  I love the depth of the stone and the almost gum-drop like look.  Delicious!

This Sugarloaf Garnet & Diamond Halo Ring from Heriot Jewellery on Etsy is a delicious example of a sugarloaf cut stone.  The depth of & natural variations in color are really on full display in this juicy example.  Honestly, this ring has been in my Etsy shopping cart for ages just in case...

Rock Crystal Shaker Locket
Shaker lockets have been popular for centuries.  Rock crystal used to create a locket leaving room for trinkets or gemstones to be placed loose inside allowing for free movement.  I like to think of them as early fidget spinners.  I have been looking for just the right one to add to my collection for years now.

This Victorian French Locket in 18K Gold is available on Etsy from Green Pines & could easily be used a both a shaker locket or to hold moments such as dried flowers or photographs.  I can easily see this filled with seed pearls, moonstones & labradorite for an almost etheral appearance.

A Gemstone Statement Ring
Speaking of "Hollywood Glamor," what else can scream glamor the way a huge, vintage gemstone ring does?  Think of the aquamarine ring worn by Princess Diana and later given to Meghan Markle by Prince Harry.  The gemstone itself doesn't matter.  In this case, size does!

This killer Opal Statement Ring is one that just barely slipped through my fingers from a local jeweler, Setterberg Jewelers.  I still loose sleep over this  beauty which I have nicknamed "Iris."  I was able to get her little sister to add to my personal collection but I keep hoping that "Iris" will come back to me one day.  You never know, it could happen!

Georgian Cluster Ring
Long before invisible-set diamonds became popular in modern engagement rings to create the illusion of a single larger diamond, the Georgians were already doing it.  Georgian cluster rings typically had central stone surrounded by matching stones giving an almost floral appearance to the head of the ring.  They have regained popularity in recent times by brides who are in love with the idea of adding their own unique love story to the already long history of a classic.

This 20th Century Rose Cut Georgian-Style Cluster Ring available through  Lang Antiques pays homage to the original Georgian Cluster Ring.

Georgian/Victorian Pave Turquoise
Pave turquoise has an almost cult following amongst antique jewelry collectors and once you see an exceptional example, then it's no wonder why.  My personal favorite is pave turquoise done with Persian turquoise.  To read more about Victorian pave turquoise, click here.

These Georgian Pave Turquoise Earrings from Cocopah Jewelry have been on my Bucket List since the first time I saw them!  Since they currently reside in Sedona, AZ I can visit with them frequently in the hopes that they one day join my collection.

I've been lucky enough to have added some bucket list pieces to my collection over the years.  And that having been said, I still think the hunt is more than half the fun!  Of course, I’m still looking forward to tracking down the remaining pieces on my Antique Jewelry Bucket List to fully round-out my collection but I never tire of the beauties I've already found or the memories created on the hunt!



Some Bucket List pieces from my personal collection: (top) a collection of gemstone & platinum wedding bands,  Victorian 5-stone diamond band, Edwardian enamel mourning band, Spanish Edwardian portrait ring; (middle, necklaces) Victorian pave turquoise snake with maple leaf necklace & a Victorian mourning locket in the shape of a purse; (middle rings) ruby & diamond ballerina ring, Georgian diamond cluster ring and Edwardian toi et moi ring; (bottom right) Mid-Century amethyst & platinum statement ring.


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