Vintage Engagement Rings: An Ethical Option

Secrète Fine Jewelry strives to create our jewelry with ethically sourced materials and relate our practices to our clients with 100% transparency. Because there are many ways to go ethical when choosing an engagement ring, and each ethical engagement option has its pros and cons, we’re spotlighting different ethical options you can choose for your engagement ring. This week, we’re looking at recycling!

This engagement ring was designed and made by Secrète this year for a cool, ethically-minded DC couple. Secrète sourced all of the diamonds used on this ring from damaged or not-so-pretty vintage jewelry, including the GIA-certified center stone. The infinity-style swirl of the shank is modern and dainty, but the best part is that these ethical diamonds are now part of a new love story.

Choosing an antique engagement ring or reusing vintage settings and stones is a great way to create an ethical, conflict-free, eco-friendly engagement ring. When you recycle and reuse materials like diamonds and settings for an engagement ring, you don’t contribute to any bad practices currently happening in any mineral markets, and you reduce waste.

The best ethical engagement ring for you may be a vintage ring, a ring using a recycled setting, or a ring using recycled stones.

Before and After: When a DC groom was looking for a vintage, floral rose gold engagement ring, we didn't have anything in our estate jewelry showcase that quite fit the bill. However, one of our designers came up with a great solution. We re-fashioned a vintage cocktail ring and an earring into a gorgeous engagement ring-- all recycled, 100% one-of-a-kind. 

Estate jewelry is a great option for brides who want their engagement rings to be unique, romantic, and one-of-a-kind.

This estate Art Deco engagement ring in white gold features an airy filigree geometric design, white single-cut diamonds, and a pink sapphire. Available at Secrète DC, you can propose with this ring as is, or choose to swap out the pink sapphire with a white diamond for a more understated look.

Before and after: An adorable young man came to Secrète looking for an antique engagement ring for his history-major girlfriend. He fell in love with this Georgian ring, engraved 1806, and proposed to her right here in our DuPont Circle store. Our expert jewelers restored the ring to its original glory, redoing the enamel in a gorgeous Georgian blue that brings out the amazing arabesque scroll details. We're proud that after 212 years, this ring continues to represent unending love.

Reusing vintage or antique settings can be a great way to have an ethical engagement ring that you can customize.

This antique Victorian engagement setting in platinum and diamonds is from Secrète's estate collection vault. Would you prefer an old mine cut diamond in the center? Perhaps an aquamarine? Maybe you'd prefer an oval set East-West? The possibilities are endless, and our master jeweler will be able to alter the prongs to seamlessly integrate the stone of your dreams. 

The shank of this gorgeous channel-set platinum and diamond engagement ring was actually the groom's grandmother's wedding band. We had to make a few changes to turn it into a setting for this pretty 1.5ct GIA certified diamond, but we were able to recycle the family diamonds for a ring that's not only ethical but also sentimental.

Before and after: a lovely DC couple with an inherited stone weighing in at a massive 2.67ct found two ways to recycle. They chose a vintage engagement ring from our showcase, even though the petite diamonds in it are only 0.15 pts each. Secrète's master jeweler cut out the center basket and recreated it for the larger center stone, matching the filigree detail perfectly, and reinforced the platinum shank to be a comfortable counterbalance to the heavier diamond. This ethical engagement ring was a project that recycled a diamond and a setting to create something entirely new, but classically vintage.

Reusing antique, pre-owned, or heirloom diamonds and gemstones gives you the most flexibility in your ethical vintage engagement design, reducing your proposal’s impact on the earth and global market practices, but still giving you the option to choose a modern, contemporary design.

This vintage ring at Secrète features an Old European cut diamond, blue sapphire baguettes, and an elaborate engraved platinum setting. Some people may love the vintage look of the chunky setting, but it's totally fine to love the diamond and re-imagine the ring. If you're interested in an ethical, recycled diamond like this, it's easier than you may think to transform it into the engagement ring of your dreams. Oh, and if you're wondering, we'd find a way to preserve and re-purpose the vintage setting so that it can be enjoyed by another generation.


This modern bezel-set and gypsy-set ethical engagement ring features an oval diamond recycled from an heirloom class ring and matching pear shaped diamonds reclaimed from some old cuff links. Who knew that granddad's little bag of bling could make such a pretty minimalist ring?

One very romantic groom-to-be used his girlfriend's grandmother's brooch to for the 18k white gold and side diamonds in this lovely engagement ring. He also used the remaining round diamonds to create a pendant for her sister. This project proves that recycling can be glamorous.


Secrète in DuPont Circle helped a young man transform an old plain-Jane princess-cut solitaire into this colorful work of art by resetting the recycled diamond with tapered emeralds in 18k yellow gold.

Do you want to start designing your custom ethical engagement ring today? Stop by one of our locations-- in Wildwood Shopping Center in Bethesda or our DuPont Circle store in Washington, DC-- or contact us via email.