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Just like the fashion industry, the diamond and gemstone jewelry industry has been particularly susceptible to the vagaries of "taste". There has always been an "in" look and a "passé" look. For example, most diamond and gemstone jewelry used to be made of yellow gold. Today, white gold is de rigueur. About 50 years ago, emerald-cut diamonds were all the rage. Then they were out, and marquise-cut was in. Today, the shape of the moment is the princess-cut diamond engagement ring. In fact, antique, diamond and gemstone rings have never been so popular.

Something which is comfortably old or looks old conveys a sense of permanence, even timelessness. Washington, D.C. was designed with ancient Greek and Roman architecture in mind. We like to stay with the "tried and true." Antique or vintage engagement rings symbolize a long and unbroken marriage. And vintage wedding rings connoted an unbroken partnership, which stands the test of time.

This is why vintage or vintage looking engagement rings or wedding bands have had a surge in sales. When something is vintage estate jewelry or vintage-looking, there are several attributes which should be present. The first quality to look for is the presence of fine filigree and scroll work. Filigree and engraving on the shank of the ring contribute to the antique-quality of the ring. Occasionally, there will be openings cut into the ring around which the filigree is placed. Also, there is an increasing use of "old miner"- cut diamonds by manufacturers. Some manufacturers of fine vintage-looking jewelry also accent the white gold with rose gold, which was actually popular in the past. Finally, there are the prongs to consider—the part of the engagement ring or wedding band which holds the diamonds in place. They should be substantial, and have scroll work or filigree on the sides. Some vintage-looking rings even have diamonds on the prongs. While some insist on six prongs, four substantial prongs are enough. Finally, while there are some people who prefer platinum engagement rings, white gold is actually easier (and less costly) to work with.

A fashion-conscious shopper of vintage or antique diamond wedding bands or engagement rings needs to remember the key attributes:

* Filigree and scroll work
* Engraving on the sides
* Open cut-work
* Substantial prongs
* Occasionally, an accent of rose gold

If there are these criteria, a shopper with a keen eye will always know what to look for in engagement rings or wedding rings.