Google+Southern Wedding Tradition: Estate Diamonds - Southern Weddings

Southern Weddings

Y’all know we love sparkly diamonds and gorgeous bling around these parts! Emily and I in particular are a little ring-obsessed, and from the looks of the comment section in our past engagement ring posts, y’all are, too!

Naturally, we love every sort of tradition and story involving sparkly things, so when Lauren, one of our dear readers, sent us the loveliest of stories about the estate diamond in her engagement ring, we knew we had to share. Take it away, Lauren!

“The center diamond in my engagement ring belonged to my great grandmother. She was given it as a gift from my great grandfather on their 50th Wedding anniversary. On the day I was born, my grandmother set aside that ring to give to me one day. My grandparents have been married for almost 60 years, and their marriage is one that I admire and look up to. It is an honor to me to wear an heirloom diamond with a history of love from two faithful and long lasting marriages.”

Now that y’all have wiped your tears, let’s talk about the Southern tradition of the estate diamond!

Tec Petaja

Estate jewelry is defined as “previously owned jewelry that is of a vintage and/or antique nature.” I’m sold already! Tradition dictates that women in the South pass their engagement ring diamond, or their entire engagement ring, onto their first born son to be given to his future bride. Once she becomes a mother, the tradition continues as the diamond or ring is passed from generation to generation.

According to my mother in law, many women in the South are given an additional band on their tenth (or more) anniversary as a sort of replacement for the ring given away.

Don’t have an estate ring in your family? These days, there are great sources online for authentic vintage rings (one of our favorites is EraGem!)

Now it’s time to talk about your pretty, pretty sparklers, ladies! If you have a diamond engagement ring, is it an estate piece? Or did your beau (or you and your beau!) pick out something entirely new? Share, share, share away!

P.S. We love these Southern traditions, too:
A moment of prayer before the ceremony
Carrying a white Bible in lieu of a bouquet
The sorority sing

EraGem is a delightful member of the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory and an SW sponsor!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
17 Comments
  1. avatar Ali reply

    My engagement ring is also an estate ring. It was my fiance’s great grandmother’s ring, given to her by his great grandfather. It is an aquamarine set in a white gold band. His mom had been holding it in her jewelry box for just the right girl…and it ended up being me! I love the ring itself very much, but I love the history behind it and what it represents so much more.

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Oh Ali, that sounds gorgeous! Even if you’re a Gator! ; ) I am obsessed with vintage jewelry and the stories behind them! Hopefully you’re able to continue the tradition! xx, Marissa

  2. avatar Brittany R reply

    My ring is not an estate ring, but I love it just the same! It’s a 2 ct. emerald cut in a cathedral (very high) setting. My band is super thin, as is my wedding band (that I will get on April 14! eek!) I really do love this tradition, though. My fiance’ and I have talked about starting that tradition for our family…I would be honored to know that my diamond is treasured long after I am gone!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Brittany! That is such a sweet idea to start the tradition with your ring! I’m sure that your daughter in law would absolutely LOVE a 2 ct. sparkler! xx, Marissa

  3. avatar Erin reply

    I know I’ve shared this story before but probably over 1 1/2 years ago. My engagement ring is an estate piece–it was my man’s mother’s, grandmother’s, AND great grandmother’s ring. It’s an antique setting with a single band but the top has two rows of five diamonds each (I don’t know all of the correct terminology, sorry!). Since I’ve always thought it looks more like a wedding ring than an engagement ring we’re going to actually use my grandmother’s diamonds to design an engagement-looking wedding band! This way my hand is full of his family AND my family’s history, as well as our own ideas!

  4. avatar Anitaa reply

    I have always loved estate jewelery. Sadly no one in our families had rings to pass on thus I decided to start this tradition.
    I picked an authentic 1920s Art Deco ring for our engagement. 2.14 ct old mine cut in a square detailed filigree platinum setting. I love it so much I picked a plain wedding band to wear on my right hand as we did not want anything to “steal” from the beauty.

  5. avatar Angela Alpaugh reply

    My engagement ring is a three-stone diamond ring that has been in my now-husband’s family since the Civil War era, beginning with his great-great-great-great grandparents. When I tried on the ring for the first time, there was no re-sizing needed. It fit my ring finger perfectly. I remember the joy and sense of wonder in my heart that day as I tried on the ring for the first time, knowing that a proposal was soon to come. I am so honored to carry on this family tradition and wear this beautiful piece of history that I will one day pass down and continue the family tradition.

  6. avatar Katie reply

    Neither one of us had an estate ring in our families; however, many have commented on the ring Matt picked out as looking very vintage and very much like an heirloom! It’s a round cut with sidestones, and a halo surrounding all three diamonds. The band is very thin and has diamonds as well–in short, it is very sparkly, which is exactly what I wanted! Matt and I definitely want this ring to stay in our family, passed down from generation to generation.

  7. avatar Kelly reply

    While my engagement ring is new {pear-shaped with a halo and pave-diamond band}, I will definitely be incorporating estate jewelry from my fiance’s and my family’s lines on our wedding day! With my wedding dress, I’m going to wear my grandmother’s engagement diamond on a pendant around my neck, and Drew’s late mother’s and grandmother’s engagement rings on my right hand. It’ll be a lovely way to have a little piece of them with us on our special day.

  8. avatar Becca reply

    My ring is also an estate ring. My great-grandmother was given the ring in 1923 and was happily married for 56 years. When my grandmother died I got it from her estate. It is a beautiful solitaire set in white gold and was the perfect fit! My fiance got a ring wrap custom made to make it even more beautiful without having to change my great-grandmother’s ring at all. I am so happy to continue the legacy because all of my fiance’s grandparents were married over 50 years as was mine. I’m planning a beautiful June wedding here in NC. : )

  9. avatar Emily reply

    My fiance’s sister has always wanted the “family ring,” which belonged to their grandmother, so I insisted that it was hers to have when the time came. My fiance proposed last July, and gave me a ring that he “built.” Rather than using the family ring, he took his grandmother’s diamond watch to our jeweler and had the main stones removed. He then purchased my center stone, and added the remaining family watch diamonds to create an absolutely beautiful “new heirloom.” The three stone, pave set engagement ring that he created specifically for me is a perfect combination of family and future! Gee do I love that man :)

  10. avatar kristin reply

    I’m not sure mine is quite old enough to qualify as an estate diamond, however, it is the same stone that my fiancé’s father proposed to his mother with about thirty years ago. Matt, my fiancé, had a new band designed to hold the solitaire diamond for me. He actually carried it around in his pocket for a month before finding just the right moment to propose! I just love it and it really is that much more special knowing the love stories behind it.

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