Dear PoPville – Where to Buy a Vintage Engagement Ring

Photo by PoPville flickr user ivan | sciupac

“Dear PoPville,

Do you think your readers have any tips on where to shop for an honestly priced engagement ring in DC? Vintage would be great, but new is a possibility.”

I used one of the big companies and while it worked out in the end it was a very stressful process (for me.) Anyone have good suggestions for finding a vintage engagement ring around the DC area?

77 Comment

    • I second Stanton Gallery. Christine is great to work with and can make just about anything you have in mind at a reasonable cost, especially compared to other local jewelers.

  • i bought an engagement ring for my wife at the antique guild in old town

    i though they were fairly priced after shopping all over the greater metro area.

  • In my experience most jewelers have a limited selection of vintage rings as they buy used pieces as part of their business. After all they are durable goods! Best to call ahead and see if they have any.

  • Not sure about Vintage. But for new I really liked Charleston Alexander in bethesda. I thought there selection and size were the best after shopping at wholesalers, chain stores, and shops in NY. Also if you live in DC, you can get it shipped so you dont have to pay for the tax.

  • I think the Going Out Gurus usually recommend Tiny Jewel Box for this kind of thing (but I can’t remember if that’s specifically “vintage” or just “unique”).

    • Yes, TJB has two floors of vintage stuff. Amazing, and they are really honest and great to buy from. We are repeat shoppers after my husband got my ring there.

      • My husband went to TJB looking for my ring and found it super stressful and rather expensive.

        The Antique Guild in Old Town is amazing. They have a good selection and offered to resize my ring for free. The woman who owns it (?) was awesome about letting me try on just about everything in the case, and explaining the difference between diamonds. We got my engagement ring there and I’d go back for more jewelery as well.

    • Tiny Jewel Box a snotty rip-off shop. Only go if you want to end up with bad memories of buying your ring and want to spend extra for that experience. Other readers have it right – check Old Town Alexandria. Antiques stores. Be patient.

  • Do you want a vintage setting for your own stone, or do you want a vintage ring with stone?

    My experience was that it is difficult to find a vintage setting for sale by itself. Most dealers buy old rings, spruce them up a little bit and then plunk in a much nicer diamond since this is where they generally make the most profit.

    Also, not trying to start a flame on this (seriously!), but when I did this (I bought a vintage setting for my own stone), I spent a lot of time going back and forth to New York. There are a lot of great places up there for this, but I didn’t have as much luck in DC. I think there’s just a greater market of buyers and sellers of old rings up there.

  • Mine came from Not vintage, of course. But if you’re in the market for a new ring, check them out. The website is easy to use. They have sliders that allow you to set a range for the price, size, color, clarity, etc. My ring had to go back to be sized and their customer service was great.

    • I think blue nile (and Kay, and Zales, etc) is exactly what anyone seeking vintage is trying to avoid.

      • +1. My sister had a Blue Nile ring. Her fiance claimed he spent a very good amount of money on it, but it was honestly the most disappointing, dingy, generic ring I’ve ever seen. Ever. No wonder they’re no longer engaged. Or even talking. It was surely a blood diamond.

        It also strikes me as so thoughtless to just slide a scale on a computer and voila!: The Ring. Not a labor of love at all.

  • is my favorite way to find vintage jewelry.

  • If looking for new, check out Quest Jewelers in Merrifield. Great customer service. They helped me design a custom setting for a stone that i purchased on my own.

  • When me and my now husband were looking for vintage engagement rings we couldn’t find any! I looked online and found a lot of cool designs that I really liked, but he was scared to order it online. He printed out a copy of the ring that I liked and took it to Dominion Jewelers
    and they custom made the ring for him. I was so surprised when he proposed to me and I loved the ring! (I had no clue he did any of this). I think they do really good work and can make any ring you want!!

    • This is a good idea if you kind find a good jeweler. In new York (again, not trying to start anything!), there are a lot of super old-school jewelers, plying their trades the same as they did when they were in Eastern Europe after World War II. There are seriously some guys there in their mid-90s, still making gorgeous old settings from 50+ year-old molds. You can get a setting from a vintage mold for 1-2K in platinum, buy your own stone (whatever you may want) and have them install it.

      I’m sure there must be some guys like that in DC, but I have no idea where they would be.

      • I HIGHLY recommend Bario-Neal in Philly.

        • My stone was bought in the Philly diamond district (billion years ago), set in something crappy because he knew I’d want something specific. Had actual setting made at Galt jewelers here – sadly no longer in business. But I got exactly what I wanted; it looks very 30’s/sleek.

    • I did the same thing. I found a picture of a vintage ring and had DJ’s make it custom. I bought the center stone on blue nile. I probably paid 1/2 to 1/3 of retail and I didn’t get stiffed on a “vintage” diamond.

  • I have found nice vintage jewelry (all price ranges) for my mom at Today’s Cargo in Alexandria. 10 min walk from Metro.

  • I had trouble finding a suitable ring in DC. I ended up picking one from (San Francisco). Ethically sourced gems and metals.

  • Hi there!

    My husband got my ring at the quarterly DC BIG FLEA MARKET. This summer it’s from July 23-24 at the Dulles Expo Center. I actually went and picked out my ring from a vender there in the Fall, and my husband later purchased it. It is HUGE, over 10,000 sq. ft. of antiques…but let me tell you, as a HUGE vintage jewelry person, they have an amazing selection. You just have to go with patience…as there will be QUITE the selection…of not only jewelry, but also furniture, décor and clothing.

    We ended up with an art deco dome setting in platinum, with pave, filigree and an early brilliant hand cut center diamond. Normally (and the ring was appraised for), $8,000, but we got it for $4,000. You just have to know what to look for re: diamond quality, etc.


    Small shop in VA, reservations required. They’ll walk you through everything and won’t push for a sale. Great place … got the engagement and wedding bands there

  • i’m terrible at picking out jewelry, but bat 1.000 when choosing from selections in pawn shops in frederick.

  • I have a friend whose husband got hers from one of the places on the south side of M street near where it meets Pennsylvania in Georgetown. They got a vintage setting and stone (which was not a diamond) with the plan to exchange the stone down the road.

  • Not DC, but Doyle & Doyle in NYC has a terrific antique/vintage/new but looks vintage selection. And a huge price range ($500 to $50,000) and online inventory: Our engagement/wedding rings are from there and the customer service was terrific and the prices quite reasonable.

  • I just got engaged and received a lovely vintage ring.
    Their actual website with pictures is pretty bad, but the place itself is lovely and they specialize in engagement rings. I’ve gotten other vintage jewelry from there as well.

  • I got my vintage engagement and wedding rings at Solovey in McLean – it was 4 years ago but we were really happy with the choice, prices seemed reasonable and the service was good

    The other place we looked and we really liked (but not for vintage) was I.Gorman – they were v nice and they have great modern stuff

    • I also recommend Solovey. Bought my wife’s antique engagement ring there and she is very happy with also. Also the owner was willing to budge a little on the price which helped a lot.

  • We didn’t have very good luck in DC (I also was looking for a sapphire, which changed things a bit) but found a lot more boutique-y places in Annapolis. I definitely can recommend Nyland Jewlers (they have some antiques but built mine and we LOVE it. They’re also great to work with).

    • TJB had a lot of vintage sapphires and other colored stones last time I was there. Check out their website to get a sense.


    The URL is laughably straightforward, but this site is phenomenal. They have a great selection of reasonably (and not reasonably) priced antique rings and replicas if you want something newer. Many of the rings are art deco in style, which I find quite beautiful, and many are platinum. I couldn’t have been happier buying from them (they’re based in Manhattan). The customer service was great, too. I don’t comment that often on PoP, but I had to spread the word.

    • Mine is from there as well. The prices seem to be really good and he has some amazing jewelry. I’ve been married for 4 years and I still sometimes go back and drool over that site!

    • Word. I didn’t use them, but it was a really valuable site to gauge style, etc. Recommended.

    • I purchased an engagement ring from this operation. I went to visit the store in NYC. I cannot reccomend them enought. My fiance is so happy with the ring. It also appraised significantly more than what I purchased the ring for.

      They are worth a visit.

  • Jantiques in Kensington has a lot of beautiful vintage engagement rings in a range of prices, some very modest.

    • Good idea — lots of small shops that might have something in Kensington. Might be worth a weekend morning looking.

  • Go see Cliff Limon at Limon’s Gems & Jewels in Bethesda. They have vintage and new and can make anything you want. It’s a family business that’s been around forever. True master craftsmen. I bought an engagement ring for my fiance there last fall.

  • Geez. Doesn’t anybody just live in sin anymore? :p

    • Or think $4000.00+ would be more fun spent on a trip around the world?

      • I hear you. engagement rings are horribly ridiculous. let the “live and let live/you must have no friends” comments begin…

        • You have friends. I agree completely.

          Diamond engagement rings are hardly a time-honored tradition. They’re a fabrication of the DIAMOND INDUSTRY that didn’t start until the 1930s with a heavy marketing campaign.

          That, combined with the conflict-diamonds issue and the ludicrous two months’ salary “rule” makes the diamond engagement ring fall somewhere between “throwing the bouquet” and “performing in blackface” in the spectrum of Things That Just Shouldn’t Be Done Anymore.

          • “the diamond engagement ring fall somewhere between ‘throwing the bouquet’ and ‘performing in blackface'”

            ha, love this!

          • we all have our different cultures. you’re welcome to yours but it’s quite rude to tell others that the elements of theirs “just shouldn’t be done”.

      • This is quite true. On that note, I think diamonds are overrated and honestly not so great for ethical reasons. There are a lot of more affordable and beautiful stones.

        Or, you can just skip the engagement ring and go for wedding bands; generally, they are simpler and cheaper, and you’ll save $$$.

        I only did the engagement ring because I already had a nice stone I inherited, and while it was valuable, I could have sold it for maybe 1/2 of its worth myself to a dealer or online. Otherwise, I would have saved the money for the honeymoon.

        • We skipped the engagement rings and the wedding bands. And we’ve never missed them.

          • love it.

            I also love the argentinian custom (correct me if I’m wrong, friends) of exchanging wedding bands when you get engaged and wearing them on your right hand until you get married when you then switch it to your left.

            big honkin’ diamond rings don’t go with much fashion-wise. they look weird with suits and over the top with casual wear. plus, depending on how somebody’s wearing it, it often tells me all I need to know about cock and brain size of the couple.

            don’t let DeBeers win! the whole thing is fabricated consumerism!

          • claire

            Wow, I’m very encouraged to read these comments and know I’m not alone – the extravagance of engagement rings is just ridiculous to me!

          • My wife told me that she thought that engagement rings were the most horrible idea for a girl, that you would have to wear 2 rings. I decided to marry her right there.

            Engagement rings are for a consumerist culture that make you think that you have to have something you need to go into debt for to find true love. Bunch of horse shit. Every guy should just refuse to buy these rings. I don’t think that the ladies would actually put off marrying them without the ring. If they did, you should back out now!!!

          • @J street, +1

            engagement rings are horrible for a lot of reasons. it’s up to you, people, to stop buying them! men, do NOT bow to the pressure! if your relationship is solid and your woman worth her salt, you don’t need one.

      • it is easily possible to pay much less than that.
        also, diamonds aren’t necessary.

        • And synthetic diamonds are virtually indistinguishable now.

          • Chemically, aren’t they in fact indistinguishable? My understanding is that they voluntarily mark them bc of pressure from DeBeers, but there’s no reason this has to be done. I’m surprised synthetics haven’t gotten more traction.

          • I think they haven’t gotten more traction simply b/c of the power of the diamond industry. people are nuts to pay thousands for something you can get that’s even more perfect at a fraction of the price.

        • i like how people in one of the most expensive cities in the country are knocking the extravagance of a piece of jewelry. all ya’ll never eat out, pack your own lunches and walk to work right? so, you live in the inexpensive suburbs and bike to work. you’re so wonderfully frugal! you must be so happy.

  • Not at all the place to look for vintage or even unique jewelry, but for honestly priced rings (the standard-issue rock), I recommend Seriously. Just plug in what’s important to you (The 4 C’s + the 5th C: COST) and you’ll see what they have — I’m pretty confident that the price will destroy the boutique jewelers on an apples-to-apples comparison. Just don’t go for the $1M 6.8 carat solitaire they recently had there. And tell your fiancee-to-be from whence her rock came at your own peril.

    I went with them back in the day because it was the only place I could find certified Canadian diamonds, which was important to ensure that they were conflict-free. Unfortunately, I don’t think they carry the Canadian diamonds anymore.

  • So first of all, at this point virtually every major jeweler will only be selling conflict-free diamonds. Sites like have entire sections explaining this. The best way to end up with a “blood diamond” is to buy vintage in fact.

    Now in terms of where to buy and pricing — keep in mind that diamonds are the ultimate commodity. What that means is that pricing is extremely tight. Yes, you can absolutely save money buying from a website vs. a boutique storefront, but that’s simply because they have lower overhead. Everyone who sells legitimate, graded diamonds pays basically the same price to the wholesaler.

    As a result, aside from making the decision about whether to buy online or from a store, there’s not really any such thing as hunting for a “deal” on a diamond.

    • Having spoken to a dealer before, there is a very slim profit margin on diamonds usually since, as you note, most places go to the same wholesalers for their stones and then must compete with all other retailers. The only places that get away with huge markups are the Tiffany’s of the world, where people go but could care less that they’re overpaying.

      The profits come from putting a setting and stone together and charging a markup on the whole deal, which is why it can be difficult to get a separate setting and stone as an average consumer.

      • Took my stone to Tiffany, and they would set it but not put the Tiffany ‘mark’ on the ring – b/c it wasn’t “their” diamond. All that for twice what we paid for hand-made platinum (which wasn’t being done in ’92). All you get at Tiffany’s is the name and pretty blue box. Guess that means something to some people.

    • I respectfully disagree on the first point, but I don’t plan on buying another ring again, so I don’t really care. The point of vintage, I suppose, is that you’re not creating a demand for another diamond from the mine and encouraging the abuses that surround diamond mining — buying used on the secondary market doesn’t make any money for the people pumping this stuff into the system.

      I enthusiastically agree on your second point, however: diamonds are commodities. Where you get it doesn’t matter. 1.5ct/IF/F color princess-cut is the same at Tiffany’s as it is online. I wish more people realized that. So much time is wasted on this.

  • I looked in Old Town, Alexandria, Kensington and Savage Mill Antique Center. I ended up buying in Kensington but would recommend all three spaces as a good place to look around and shop.

  • We bought our rings at Tiny Jewel Box. Look at Varna for hers.

  • andy

    All I can say is that every kiss begins with Kay! Bwaahahahahahaha!

  • Craigslist. Search “divorced.”

  • Ignore all the other comments! I know just the spot. Diener Jewlers:

    I got my ring here last year (picked it out myself!) and it’s totally unique and not super “in your face” flashy like a lot of engagement rings are. They have a good variety and always get new pieces in so it’s good to go back and check a few times to see what’s new. It’s family owned and Mr. Diener is very friendly. Best of all, it was very inexpensively priced. I get compliments on the ring all the time!

  • I am not sure if they have vintage rings, but as far as quality and service, I am not sure iGorman can be topped. They are located downtown on 20th and M.

  • Tiny Jewel Box has a great selection of vintage pieces.

  • My husband I went to Washington Diamond out near Tysons. It was a great experience and he did a good job of politely kicking me out of the room when they talked price and delivery timeline.

  • Coming late to the game but here’s a great site for antique rings:

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