Olly Gerrish is one of the many friendly faces that will greet
you upon arriving at Grays Antiques Market, home
to one of the world's largest and most diverse collections of fine
antiques, jewellery, and vintage fashion. The Antique
Jewellery Company, an online version of her and her business
partner Jo Elton's stand in the famous antique market showcases
their beautiful rings and jewellery. With over 30 years experience
of selling antique jewellery, we thought Olly would be the perfect
person to give us some expert tips on buying an antique engagement
Why opt for an antique or vintage engagement ring?
"Because the chances are that you will never see another one like it. We only purchase unusual original rings that are well made and have stood the test of time. You will not be wearing a uniform like so many single-stone diamond rings that modern makers produce, but something unique which is a real talking point."
What should you ask when buying an antique ring?
"You should always ask what the carat of the gold is (18 or 15 carat) which a lot of antique rings were made in. Nowadays the norm is 14 carats, so don't be surprised if a dealer says the ring is 15 carat. Some rings are not marked but have been tested with acid to ascertain the quality of the gold. Also ask about the size of the stones: the dealer should be able to tell you the carat weight. Enquire about the quality of the stones; colour and clarity. This is important with diamonds which can be colour and clarity graded, if they are large enough. Small diamonds can fairly easily be assessed with a loupe. You should also look for chips, if they are drawing colour, and internal marks which all affect the value. Ask if the ring has been restored in any way. This is important, although old resizing is perfectly permissible."
How is buying an antique ring different to buying a new
"Yes, it is a whole different experience. You get to meet a host of dealers who are enthusiastic about what they are selling - they will really put their money where their mouth is. It is important to go to a reputable dealer, and at Grays there are well known dealers who have years of experience. The market is also very competitive, so the prices will be fair."
What sort of price ranges or budgets would you say are the
'average' price of a vintage ring?
"Anything from £500 to £3,000 will buy you a really gorgeous ring with real history."
What is your top tip on choosing engagement rings for
newly engaged couples?
"Do your market research; look at web sites such as ours, make a shortlist then come in to Grays and view the rings. Once there, ask to look at the ring with a loop - the dealer will be happy to assist you. Prepare some questions on condition, size of stones, age etc. and away you go!"