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M.Max

Genuine Antique Diamond Engagement Ring?

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Hello,

I am a bit of a lurker on these forums, and would very much like to seek some opinions on this...

I hope to shortly make my girlfriend my fiance, and we both love the beautiful qualities of antique rings. I have done a fairly large amount of research, both on-line and in-person, and have viewed enough rings now over the course of two weeks to feel confident that I have found something special. I am attaching photos sent to me by the dealer (they are better lit than the ones that I took). I have viewed this more than once now at the dealer, and I am very close to purchasing.

According to the dealer the details are as follows:

Main stone:

Old European cut, 1.9 carats, color I, VS1

Side stones:

Single cut, .25 carats, F, VS

Platinum band

$17k

It has caught my eye not only for the finery of the setting, but for the apparent clarity of the stone, which I have not seen elsewhere in this price and stone specification range. This got me thinking a little on whether it really is an antique ring. From my experience, the stone does look like an Old European cut, with the frosted edge and visible culet. The imperfections are slight - a few tiny carbon spots visible in certain light. Unfortunately, the stone is not GIA certified because of the difficulty of removing it. The stone does have an 'independent certification' for what this is worth. I just wonder about whether the setting could be a replica, even though the dealer assures me it is antique circa 1910. I have looked for telltale signs, metal residue and so on, but cannot see any.

I would be tremendously interested in hearing any opinions on this piece and its apparent authenticity. I'm quite taken with it!

Thank you,

Max

 

 

 

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That would not be difficult to remove and reset and I wouldn’t let that be a deal killer for sending it to GIA if you want. It takes time and a few hundred dollars, but that’s about it. That said, GIA won’t give you a date even if they see it. It’s an OEC and that’s the end of that. They’ll give a  solid answer to the clarity, weight, and color, and will end any arguments on those points but that’s really the only reason to get them involved at this point.

An independent evaluation is only as good as it’s author. Look into who signed it and see if you find them credible. Anyone worth listening to will have footprints on the net. That’s who is giving the circa date and, for lack of a GIA, the grading details on the stone. That style was popular around that era, and they’re not now, but there’s nothing about stone or metal that can be 100% dated. There are several positive signs for antiquity, like the azuring below the stones (google it), and the way the stones are set using a graver. This is not a CAD piece. It’s also possible that it’s an antique piece with a new(ish) stone but there’s no real way to test that. Most stones from that era aren’t that round or that white but ’most’ is an important weasel word. It sounds to me like the dealer gave you provenance to about as good a level as they can. I don’t see any red flags.

You can always get it appraised by your own expert if you want. I may be biased, but that always strikes me as a good idea at this price point. It's not a second opinion if it comes from the same source as the first and an 'independent' appraiser who is working for the seller is grounds for the question. 


Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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Some things look good (in addition to the ones pointed out by Neil): the milgrain looks nicely even and deep, and there is a sense of togetherness to the design - even though I'm wondering a bit about the relatively unusual setting with tabs (I would have expected a bezel, which would have made removal of the centre difficult indeed).

But the $17,000 question is what is it that you are uncertain about. If it is the stone's characteristics, it's easy enough (if a bit expensive) to have it graded at GIA; if it's the antiquity of the piece you need a different type of expertise. You may already have that in the "certification" and the dealer's word - conflicts of interest aside - or you may not.

I suppose I'm saying the same as Neil, really: get someone who you trust and who works for you to look at this in depth, and give you their truly independent opinion


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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Thank you Neil and Davide for your replies. I'm very reassured reading your initial take on the ring. I looked into the azuring and also examples of milgrain from the period after reading this, and piece does seem to ring true (excuse the pun!) It's funny that you've flagged the stone and setting as being a little unexpected; even to my very much inexperienced eye, I was surprised to see such a white stone and the tab mounts...but as you say this doesn't necessarily invalidate its antiquity.

I don't think I'm too concerned with getting a GIA certification. I don't expect we'll be re-selling the ring anytime soon (I certainly hope not, anyway) and the stone resonates with me a lot regardless of its technical qualities. So I suppose the answer to the $17,000 question is really the antiquity of the piece, yes. Even though isolated from any historical significance, the ring is very impressive and desirable to me, finding out some time down the line that it is not antique would be a touch disappointing. I might look into getting it appraised in this regard, as you have both suggested.

Thank you both again!

M.

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@M.Max You are very welcome. Good luck with the decision, and if you have time to post an update it would be great to hear from you with any news!

BTW - for those that are wondering what "azuring" is: it's a phonetic transcription and adaptation of the French term "ajourer" (v.) or "ajouré" (adj.), meaning "open to the day(light)". It seems to be an American English expression (or at least, from my little corner in Europe I had not heard the term before yesterday). Nothing to do with the bright blue sky, jazz, Jewish identity or IT. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azure

Edited by davidelevi
typo

Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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Sorry to use a technical term without explanation.  I was a bench jeweler for a long time and this is just one of those words that crept into my vocabulary.  Azuring has to do with those side stones. The little ones. Those are set using a tool called a graver, which looks and operates a bit like a chisel, but the very first step is to drill a hole.  Holes are round.  If you look at the back of the stones in the picture, the holes are pentagonal, square and other puzzle pieces that fit in the space, but not round. That’s done with a file and elbow grease. It’s time-consuming, significantly more difficult than it looks, and not visible from the top. It makes the ring smoother on the inside, easier to clean, and it gives it a finished look from the back, but it’s not really ‘better’ in the usual use of that word. The result is that people doing modern reproductions rarely bother to do it. It doesn't mean they can't, they just usually don't (and increasingly they can't. This takes a fair amount of practice and it's becoming a lost skill).

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Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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When I was an apprentice, back in the 70's, I made several of these. Some appraiser somewhere is looking at one of mine and wondering if it's an antique based on these same clues we're talking about.  I wasn't as good at it as whoever made this one, but I like to think mine are good enough to pass the muster as an 'antique'. 

Edited by denverappraiser
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Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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As my colleagues have mentioned, it is hard to determine exactly when the ring was made.  One of the telltale signs of a real antique ring is the wear and tear that can be seen on close inspection.  Many of these rings have gone through some repairing and you may be able to spot places where there is a little extra solder.  There has been a recent resurgence of interest in this type of antique-styled mounting, although I have seen precious few with single cuts.  I hope for your sake it is a genuine antique, but the most important piece is that you love what you purchase.


Laurent George
Diamond Ideals
New York City

www.diamondideals.com
212-207-4845
laurent@diamondideals.com

 

 

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41 minutes ago, denverappraiser said:

Sorry to use a technical term without explanation.  I was a bench jeweler for a long time and this is just one of those words that crept into my vocabulary. 

Absolutely no need to apologise, and thank you for the explanation/details; I was surprised by the fact that it seems to be an American version only. In Europe most people would use the French spelling.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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3 hours ago, denverappraiser said:

When I was an apprentice, back in the 70's, I made several of these. Some appraiser somewhere is looking at one of mine and wondering if it's an antique based on these same clues we're talking about.  I wasn't as good at it as whoever made this one, but I like to think mine are good enough to pass the muster as an 'antique'. 

Ah ha! I was thinking along these lines. It appears things get quite tricky then; determining the antiquity.

LaurentGeorge, the single stone did strike me as unusual. But ultimately you're right in that the most important thing is the ring resonating with me (and her!) On that note, do you guys think the price is reasonable given the apparent age and qualities of the stone?

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Age doesn't drive the price. Quality does. Whether this is 50 years old or 100 or 3 is an interesting academic question but it's just that, an academic question. 


Neil Beaty

GG(GIA) ICGA(AGS) NAJA

 

There's never a crowd when you go that extra mile.

Professional Appraisals in Denver

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3 hours ago, M.Max said:

On that note, do you guys think the price is reasonable given the apparent age and qualities of the stone?

It doesn't seem unreasonable. I have checked a couple of dealers that specialise in that type of merchandise and asking prices seem aligned - to the extent they can be: getting something that is comparable to the centre stone is a thankless task; getting something that meets your (and her) taste in terms of aesthetics is an impossible one!

Could you spend less and get substantially the same? Probably yes, by scouring antique jewellery dealers, pawnbrokers, online auction sites and all that. Would it take you longer than you want or have time to? Probably also yes.

BTW - a note to Neil's comment re: age not driving price. That is true (unless one is talking of antiques or antiquities), but it may drive value as perceived by you. If you want an authentic period Edwardian ring, then make sure you get one (which this one may well be); if what appeals is the shape and other attributes, don't lose your sleep over what age it is or isn't.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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