Perfect options if you want something a little unusual.

By Laurel Pantin
Updated Jan 15, 2019 @ 10:52 am
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Of all the jewelry you might ever own, an engagement ring is one of the pieces that will likely get the most wear. Theoretically, it's something you'll have for the rest of your life....as in, forever. As if the act of getting engaged wasn't enough of a commitment, choosing a ring — or guiding your partner towards the perfect one — is a serious (but delightful!) undertaking. 

If your taste is classic, there are endless options. You can also always customize something, which is a blast. But if your taste skews more unique, consider an antique or vintage ring. You'll never find someone else with the exact same thing, and as a bonus, it's a totally eco-friendly option. 

Austin-based shop Bell & Bird has one of the most stunning collections of antique and vintage jewelry I've ever seen (everything from 16th Century diamond rings to Georgian paste earrings), and they also have a gorgeous bespoke collection inspired by vintage and antique styles. 

We asked Rhianna Shennum, one of the owners and jewel hunters at Bell & Bird, to pick her top 10 favorite rings for someone who wants something a little unusual. 

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Victorian era fine sapphire and diamond twin-snake ring with ruby eyes. In 18k gold, with high dome sapphire cabochon center stone. Circa 1880. Found in Amsterdam.

"The snake has been used for centuries to represent eternity, and in the 19th century, it was a popular symbol for eternal love. Queen Victoria's engagement ring was a serpent set with an emerald. This is a fine example with a natural, untreated sapphire."

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5.80 carat old mine-cut cushion cut diamond ring. GIA certified to be J Color and SI1 in clarity. Art Deco-era platinum setting with hand-pierced crown and single-cut diamond side stones.

"There is one really big reason to love this solitaire...the big, chunky, old mine-cut stone! The stone would have come out of a piece of jewelry from the mid 1800s. A generation later, it found its way into this platinum setting, some time in the first quarter of the 20th century. The old mine-cut stones were cut for and by gas and candle light, and a stone of this size shows off the romantic and subtle sparkle of these early stones. 

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Late Victorian five-stone diamond ring, 18k gold. Old mine-cut stones weight approximately 4cts in total carat weight. English in origin. Circa 1900.

"We call rings like this half-hoop bands, meaning the stones cover half the ring. It is one of our favorite ring forms. This one has five main old European-cut stones with tiny rose-cut diamonds filling in any spaces between. The ring was made at the turn of the century during the Edwardian era. The look of diamonds covering the full expanse of one's finger brings a smile to just about everyone who tries it on."

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Victorian three-stone old mine-cut diamond ring. The diamonds are set in silver on 18k gold. Approximately 1.5 carat center stone and additional weight of side stone is approximately 1.40 carats. English in origin, circa 1880. Lovely wearable 19th-century diamond ring.

"We love a classic three-stone ring, and it's rare to find a good, pure antique version. This one has wonderful Victorian-era details in the gold work."

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Early 20th century old mine-cut diamond ring, in platinum setting. 4.29-carat antique diamond, E color and VS2 in clarity. Signed Cartier London in period Cartier box.

"This ring was made around the same time Cartier designed and launched the Tank watch in 1919. So much jewelry history is packed into a simple and perfect ring. Not to mention that this is a very high-grade, breathtaking, old mine-cut stone."

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Victorian seven-stone diamond half hoop band. Old mine-cut diamonds are set in silver on gold and open-backed settings. English in origin. Circa 1860.

"This ring works as a standalone engagement ring, or wonderfully as the core of a great stack."

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Early Victorian diamond ring. Three larger, old mine-cut diamonds surrounded by additional old mine-cut diamonds. Approximately 1.25 in total carat weight. Central old mine-cut diamond weighing approximately .50 carats. The diamonds are set in a silver open-back setting on an 18k gold shank. English in origin, circa 1860.

"It's uncommon to come across a ring of this age that can work for a modern engagement ring. This one is nearly 160 years old, but still feels current. Its extreme low profile is another reason to love it — the bottom facets of each stone nearly touch the finger."

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Our handmade setting with 19th century old mine-cut diamond in our custom 18K "old" gold. Center stone 2.20 carats flanked by onyx stones and matte-black enamel detail.

"There was so much black used in jewels of the mid-Victorian period that inspired this ring. The stone dates to that time period, and we incorporated both enamel and onyx, two materials that were commonly used in the 1800s. It has a very strong presence and we look forward to meeting the woman who can pull it off as her engagement ring."

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Early Victorian emerald-cut ruby and old mine-cut diamond ring. Rubies set in gold and diamonds set in silver on gold. In open-back setting. English in origin, circa 1820.

"In the 18th and 19th century, the ruby was used in jewelry as a symbol of passion. Natural rubies are still more rare than diamonds, making this perfect antique example a very unique choice."

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This unique seven-stone ring is inspired by several 17th-century diamond rings that have passed through our hands. The arrangement is characteristic of rings that date from 1650-1700. 1.03 carat emerald-cut diamond set in our custom 18K gold and flanked by six matched, tapered baguettes finished with an angled geometric band. The center stone is GIA certified to be E color and VS1 in clarity.

"This ring was inspired by a 300-year-old ring we once sold. Using modern, angular-cut stones, it executes the same form of the centuries old seven-stone ring, but with a clear and contemporary point of view."