Antique wedding rings tend to have gemstones cut in a distinctive style, which can be used to determine the age of the piece. They also have designs that reflect the era in which they were made, such as ancient Egyptian and Etruscan-inspired motifs during the 19th century when groundbreaking archaeological finds were common. Few antique wedding rings contain white gold, since this was not invented until the mid-20th century.
Antique rings from the Georgian period, between 1700 and 1830, are broadly characterized by natural motifs, such as flowers and butterflies, as well as ribbon and scroll designs. Common gemstones of the period include diamonds, garnets, emeralds, topazes and amber, and these tended to be cut in one of three styles: the table cut (square with flat top), the rose cut (round with domed top) or the old mine cut (rounded square with more facets than table or rose).
During the early Victorian or Romantic period, natural designs were increasingly inspired by religious, mythological and symbolic motifs, such as angels, love knots, crosses and Celtic, Greek and Roman themes. Diamonds and topazes remained popular, and amethyst, coral, turquoise, ruby and carved cameos were also common, cut in the traditional rose or old mine styles, or the step cut (square or rectangular with long facets).