During the 1940s, a post-war demand for women's wedding rings sent jewelers scurrying. Military men were marrying their sweethearts in multitudes. Designs ranged from the traditional Victorian and Edwardian choices to the contemporary art-deco style. Rings had elaborate, carved settings, jumbo prongs and intricate filigree. Exquisite craftsmanship was hand-tooled. Rings were bold, clunky and showy. Bands were mixed metals: platinum and two or three different types of gold.
New South Africa or old India mines yielded many 1940s diamonds. The Old European Cut was the earliest round brilliant cut with 58 facets. Hand work gave it a rough, uneven cut. The Old Mine Cut stone had a high crown and small table, or flat bottom. The gem was square and shaped like a cushion with round corners, so light could radiate and add sparkle. Besides white diamonds, slightly rose, green or yellow diamonds were popular.
The band was made from platinum, gold or a mix of both, or from different gold tones--white, yellow or rose gold. (Copper added to white gold makes rose gold.) The band shank often had a personal, carved inscription. Bands from the 1940s weren't made as part of a set. Gold karats were often mixed in the same ring: A top band was 14-karat white gold, while the bottom was 18-karat yellow gold.
A popular design was a center solitaire surrounded by smaller stones or baguettes. Visible prongs held the solitaire. Shoulder accents included shapes such as petals, leaves, vines, scrolls, flowers, squares or triangles. Graduated diamond trios, mil-grain (a raised, beaded edge) or terraced diamond steps also decorated the shoulders. Elaborate filigree--delicate, intricate ornamental patterns of twisted gold--had organic, free-flowing shapes and cutouts. Carving had deeper, 3-D patterns, while engraving was only a surface texture.
Three styles highlighted 1940s ring design: Victorian, Edwardian or art deco. Victorian described a yellow or rose-gold ring with three stones. Victorian had designs, shapes and motifs such as interwoven hearts or snakes. Edwardian rings were made of platinum or platinum over gold. Designs had gentle curves, scrolling, mil-grain and tiny diamond accents. Asian, Egyptian or American Indian designs inspired art deco, a geometrical, streamlined setting with bead-set or channel stones.