While we love to buy something new, shiny and custom-made just for you, there’s a novelty to giving a new life to a piece that’s been passed down for generations. That’s why people buy vintage to begin with.
When you come to a fine jewelry store, this isn’t like entering a pawn shop or a Salvation Army (not that you can’t score some awesome finds there). These aren’t bits and pieces of what used to be amazing, unique jewelry. These are well made, well-preserved pieces that rival anything you’d find new off the shelf.
Vintage jewelry has a unique appeal that can’t be found in modern pieces, and it’s a great way to add some character and history to your jewelry collection. It’s the embodiment of the phrase, “They don’t make them like this anymore.” They are items that were lovingly passed down from generation to generation, and somehow they ended up on a jewelry shelf, ready to live another life with someone new.
That’s where you come in. If you’re considering buying vintage pieces, here are some things to keep in mind.
Understand the Terminology
When shopping for vintage jewelry, you may come across some terms that you’re not familiar with. For example, you may see the terms “estate jewelry” or “antique jewelry” used to describe vintage pieces. Estate jewelry refers to any piece of jewelry that has been previously owned, while antique jewelry specifically refers to pieces that are over 100 years old.
Another term you may see is “vintage-inspired.” This term is used to describe new pieces of jewelry that are designed to look like vintage pieces. While these pieces can be beautiful, they’re not actually vintage, so if you’re specifically looking for vintage pieces, make sure to read the description carefully.
Know What You’re Looking For
Before you start shopping for vintage jewelry, it’s a good idea to have an idea of what you’re looking for. Vintage jewelry comes in many different styles and materials, so knowing what you’re interested in can help you narrow down your search.
For example, if you’re interested in Art Deco jewelry, you may want to focus your search on pieces from the 1920s and 1930s. Or if you’re interested in vintage engagement rings, you may want to look for pieces that feature a particular type of stone, such as a diamond or a sapphire.
Check for Authenticity
When shopping for vintage jewelry, it’s important to check for authenticity. Unfortunately, there are many fake vintage pieces out there, so you’ll want to be careful to avoid buying a piece that’s not actually vintage.
One way to check for authenticity is to look for hallmarks or maker’s marks on the piece. These marks can help you determine the age and origin of the piece, and can also give you an idea of the quality of the piece. If a piece doesn’t have any marks, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not authentic, but it’s something to be aware of.
Another way to check for authenticity is to examine the construction of the piece. Vintage jewelry was often made by hand, so you may see evidence of this in the way the piece is put together. Look for signs of wear and tear, such as scratches or dents, which can be a sign that the piece is authentic.
Consider the Condition
When buying vintage jewelry, it’s important to consider the condition of the piece. While some wear and tear can add character and history to a piece, you’ll want to make sure that the piece is in good enough condition to wear.
Look for any damage to the piece, such as missing stones or broken clasps. While some damage can be repaired, it’s important to factor the cost of repairs into the overall cost of the piece.
Additionally, consider the metal of the piece. Vintage pieces may be made from metals that are no longer commonly used, such as platinum or 18k gold. While these metals are beautiful and high-quality, they can also be more expensive to repair if they become damaged.
Shop with a Reputable Dealer
Finally, when buying vintage jewelry, it’s important to shop with a reputable dealer. A good dealer will be able to provide you with information about the piece, such as its age and origin, and will also be able to guarantee its authenticity.
If you’re looking for something special, we know we will be able to help you find the perfect piece for your needs and budget, and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
And if you don’t see any vintage or antiques on the shelves in-store, don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes, we keep the best treasures in the back – but we’re more than happy to give you a peek if you’re ever interested.
Or, have something you'd like to give a new life to? Stop by our estate buying event in May!