Guide to 1920s Engagement Rings

The 1920s came after the culmination of World War I when people were looking for an escape from the aftermath of war. The Roaring Twenties, as the decade came to be called, was a significant time of drastic social change, particularly for women. The 1920s were a period of liberation for women through their lifestyles, clothing, jewelry, the spaces they enjoyed in society, and how they expressed themselves. By extension, 1920s engagement rings experienced a drastic rethinking in their designs and styles from the designs that came before.

Commonly referred to as the Roaring Twenties, this decade was defined by artistic rebellion, casting aside societal norms, and completely new styles of clothing and jewelry. While the Art Deco period extended beyond the decade of the 1920s, this time is often seen as the height of Art Deco era decadence, fashion, and design. The onset of the Great Depression was an abrupt end to the Art Deco era, but the 1920s have left a distinct and lasting mark on engagement ring designs.

Features of 1920s Engagement Rings

The 1920s engagement ring styles were heavily influenced by the two periods that preceded it: the Art Nouveau and Edwardian eras. Early 1920s engagement rings adopted floral motifs from the Art Nouveau movement, but in sleeker designs. From the Edwardian era, 1920s rings maintained the use of platinum and diamonds for engagement rings, but they were more geometric. In its structure, these rings had straight lines and distinct geometric shapes instead of the curved, flowing lines of Edwardian rings.

The 1920s introduced a revolutionary era in engagement ring design with bold color contrasts, modern faceted gemstone cuts, geometric shapes, and symmetrical patterns. Although a great deal of jewelry was heading in the direction of being mass-produced, most of the finest engagement rings were still designed and handcrafted by jewelers of the time.

Vintage-inspired diamond and sapphire halo ring

Halo Settings & Pavé Bands  

The halo setting developed into a very popular setting for 1920s engagement rings. Style influences of the time appreciated the geometric nature of a diamond halo that followed the shape of the center stone, thus accentuating the shape with an added layer. It was also visually appealing to draw the eye in to focus on the center stone.

Advancements in technology and tools to craft jewelry led to the pavé technique that evolved during this period. As jewelers developed their skill level with the technique, it became very popular and a favorite way to adorn the bands of engagement rings, as well as to create other embellishments.

It’s hard to resist all the sparkle given off by halo settings and pavé bands. Our Loved ring features a stunning cushion cut ruby surrounded by dozens of white diamonds in a halo with alternating pavé-set diamonds on the band with milgrain throughout.

Geometric ring with radiant and baguette diamonds
oval diamond rings

Halo ring with cushion cut ruby

Bold Contrasting Colors

While diamonds continued to be a favored gemstone for engagement rings in the 1920s, the style of the era sought to incorporate bold contrasting colors. That meant that it was quite common to see diamonds paired with colored gemstones. Often a stunning colored gemstone would be the center, focal point of the ring while being surrounded by smaller diamonds. But, it was also common to have a center diamond stone accentuated by colored gemstones.

The ultimate contrast of colors was black and white. Most often this was achieved through pairing diamonds with onyx or even black enamel. This color combination was possibly the boldest of the era and a true hallmark of the 1920s serving as a dramatic departure from the softness of pastel colors of the Art Nouveau era.

For a modern-day engagement ring taking on this trend, there are many ways to achieve a stark yet chic contrast. Our Morgana features three lovely emeralds with diamond halo settings in a classic three-stone ring design. And to achieve a contemporary black and white contrast, our Jessica pairs a cushion cut center diamond with a white diamond double halo and pavé band set against a black rhodium plating.

art deco inspired Halo diamond and ruby ring

Halo diamond and ruby ring

Black rhodium accented diamond double halo ring

Geometric Shapes & Straight Lines

One of the defining characteristics of the era was the use of geometric shapes in jewelry designs. These styles were meant to capture the streamlined, modern spirit of the time and reflect a connection to the groundbreaking architectural feats built during this decade that were popping up in many major cities.

The adherence to using geometric shapes extended into the types of gemstone and diamond cuts and shapes incorporated during this time. Achieving certain geometric motifs called for incorporating less common shapes. Emerald cuts, baguette cuts, triangle shapes and square cuts were heavily favored for their sharp, clean, and straight lines.

The end goal was always to create a visually interesting piece of jewelry that was perfectly balanced in its symmetry. Degas is the perfect example of the realization of this goal with an emerald cut center diamond in a precise diamond halo and pavé set band – perfectly elegant and perfectly symmetrical. Amelia showcases the mixing of geometric shapes as two baguette cut diamonds abruptly interrupt a round diamond halo to sit against a stunning round cut brilliant diamond in the center.

Geometric ring with radiant and baguette diamonds
oval diamond rings

Vintage-inspired emerald diamond with pavé and filigree band

Intricate Details, Filigree & Milgrain

To make all of this exquisite jewelry, attention to detail was incredibly important. Working with platinum allowed for all manner of intricate and detailed designs to be created without compromising on the security of any of the gemstones. One of the favorite decorative techniques of the era was filigree, and for good reason.

Incorporating filigree into engagement rings allowed for jewelers to make detailed designs that featured small intricate cutouts and geometric lines for a stunning display of symmetrical and balanced art. And in an era when people began marrying for love as opposed to fulfilling family expectations, this very romantic-looking technique gained even more meaning.

Young style setters clamored for filigree and the incredibly unique look it created. Our Gael showcases an intricate filigree pattern set with small sapphires to contrast with the round brilliant cut center stone and rhodium plating on the pavé set band. Our Brenna is a twist on rings from this era, set in rose gold with patterned filigree cutouts, milgrain details throughout, and smaller rubies and diamonds joining the marquise cut center diamond.

The engagement rings of the 1920s are some of the most enduring styles in jewelry design that has consistently inspired trends. With so many style options and a vibrant history behind the design aesthetic of these rings, it would be hard to choose one that wouldn’t be an engagement ring to love for a lifetime.

Art Deco-Inspired Geometric Ring

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