The diamond engagement ring originated in the Edwardian period. The designs of the era were light, lace like and used as many diamonds as possible. Women wore white as the color of choice and diamonds fit into color scheme perfectly. The pictures below should give you a feel of how light, airy and delicate the designs of that era can be.
Therefore, the ascetic/historical aspect is very positive. The era is viewed favorably if the popularity of Downtown Abbey is any indication. The look is so different from the sleek and sculptured, minimalist look of today. The workmanship and detail of the Edwardian era cannot be duplicated today at a an affordable price. Finally, as a testament to a sense of style and sophistication, an Edwardian piece can be the perfect accessory to the look you are seeking for that special occasion.
Evaluation of the monetary dimension to Edwardian jewelry (or any antique jewelry) is composed of three parts, the precious metal (platinum, gold or silver) the gemstones, and the labor. In the specific case of Edwardian jewelry, I will focus on the pieces that used platinum and diamonds.
In 1751 platinum was defined as a precious metal. Besides platinum’s high melting point, it never tarnishes and it is highly resistant to corrosion. As mentioned above, it was during the Edwardian period that the technology to mass produce platinum based jewelry and create new lighter designs became available. Historically, the price of platinum consistently exceeds the price of gold. The chart below shows how the price of platinum has changed over time .
Platinum has, at the minimum, kept pace with the rate of inflation. Currently, platinum is trading at a spot price below gold: making the current (2017) platinum price historically low by comparison.
Now that we have addressed the value of the precious metal, let’s discuss the diamonds, The diamonds used during the Edwardian era are known as old mine cushion or old European cut diamonds. At one time these diamonds were considered of lesser value than the diamonds of today. However, times have changed in a significant way.
The organizations which rate diamonds, GIA and EGL, rate old cut diamonds and new diamonds by same standards. This means that the old cut and new cut diamonds with the same ratings make them equally valuable. Previously, jewelers would recut the old mine stone to conform with today’s cutting standards, thereby reducing the value of the stone by 20-30%.
Today, old mine diamonds are in demand and many times they can command a premium price due to the rarity of old mine diamonds. Additionally, there are political issues surrounding newly mined diamonds. Therefore, the diamond component of Edwardian jewelry is holding it’s own as an investment vehicle. Now on to the labor portion of the analysis.
You will notice that one of the hallmarks of Edwardian style is the very light and delicate nature of the workmanship. The intricate designs using a very difficult to use metal is labor intensive and requires a very skilled craftsman. Craftsman of this caliber are very rare and this makes these pieces of jewelry virtually irreplaceable.
In total, then, Edwardian jewelry is not only beautiful, by today’s standards, but also has the potential to increase in value. A work of art with intrinsic value is a good investment.
Therefore, the answer to the question is: Edwardian jewelry is not only aesthetically attractive, historically significant and materially valuable, it’s becoming increasingly rare.