Vintage jewelry offers the best mirror into past cultures, time, as well as societal values. It offers the perfect reflection of the tastes and the attitudes expressed in the past periods through history. Vintage jewelry is also beautiful, stylish, and for most people, one of the most beautiful forms of expression from the past. But how do you identify and date vintage jewelry?
This article takes you through everything you need to know about vintage jewelry. So, let’s get started.
3 Detailed steps to know the value of your vintage jewelry
1.Identification of the vintage jewelry
Sometimes, costume jewelry is also sold as vintage jewelry, the same way fine jewelry is. But if you are looking for vintage jewelry, it is important to keep in mind that there are important identifiers that you should be aware of. Also, you should know that vintage jewelry isn’t as old as antique jewelry. That said, it’s worth noting that jewelry snagged from the flea market or an antique store is likely vintage jewelry. If you are lucky, the jewelry you picked from that garage sale or the flea market could be a very valuable piece of costume jewelry. Next, check the appearance of the piece of jewelry.
Interestingly, you should also know that the retro, art deco, and mid-20th-century jewelry all fall into the vintage style jewelry category. And also, all the pieces of jewelry from the 70s and 80s are regarded as vintage pieces.
What all these mean is that vintage jewelry isn’t quite as old as antique jewelry because, for a piece of jewelry to be regarded as a vintage, it needs to be at least 20 years old. And for jewelry aged 100 or older, you have yourself an antique, which is significantly more valuable.
2.Carefully examine the vintage piece of jewelry.
You will only know that that the piece of jewelry you are excited about is an actual vintage piece by carefully examining the jewelry piece and its features.
Some of the things you must examine when it comes to vintage jewelry include:
The craftsmanship – remember that large-scale jewelry manufacturing processes only became popular around the middle of the 19th century to simplify and speed up the creation of jewelry, specifically in larger quantities. And when you are looking for vintage jewelry, you’d want to look out for the signs that show that the jewelry is handmade. The good news, however, is that even when it isn’t handcrafted, the jewelry could still be quite valuable. Essentially, a large percentage of the vintage style jewelry flooded the market between 1940 and the 50s, when they were mass-produced. Regarding the quality of the craftsmanship, you should look at the jewelry’s underside, too, by looking for the high-quality finishes at the top and the bottom.
Materials used – when it comes to the accurate identification of vintage and also the antique jewelry, the first thing you’d want to consider is the materials used. The materials used to make the vintage pieces will always stand out from the materials used today and the ones used for the antique pieces. Vintage jewelry is recognized by some of the finest materials, including sapphires, diamonds, platinum, or gold. They could also feature inexpensive materials like rhinestones, silver, as well as amethysts.
For easy identification, you’d want to use the magnifying glass to look for the marks that are present inside the jewelry piece. What this means is that the pieces of jewelry made of silver, gold, or platinum will feature an authenticity stamp. Also, the materials used for the vintage jewelry is often quite valuable.
Gemstone cuts – the cuts on the gemstones will also point to specific areas. If you come across jewelry with the unique European Cut or the Old Mine Cut, you should know that these cuts are no longer used, which would mean an easier classification of the piece as vintage or an antique. Keep in mind that the old cuts may also increase the value of the pieces.
Clasps – the clasps used on pins, necklaces, or bracelets easily point to the time period that the piece of jewelry was made. Even the design of the posts on the earrings will point to a particular age/time. Generally, your bracelet and necklace is a vintage piece if it has a ring or a box clasp. Notably, the now popular lobster clasp design wasn’t used or seen widely until the late 70s.
For brooches and pins, you’d have to look for latches like the C-clasp ad the Trombone clasp for the vintage pieces. With the information about the age of the clasp, it would be easier for you to estimate the worth of that jewelry piece.
Type of jewelry – with dramatic changes seen in jewelry trends and trends, especially in then20th century, you need to be careful about the types of jewelry that fall into the vintage category. Some of the questions you could ask will cover things like size and the color and the overall build. For example, is that piece of jewelry big, bold, and brightly colored, or does it offer a delicate and rather demure feel? Most of the vintage pieces from the 20th century, for example, were quite extravagant, brightly colored, and rather large.
Designer-specific features – If the jewelry has a logo from brands like Hobe, Chanel, Tiffany, Christian Dior, Bulgari, or Cartier, it could be vintage. So, if you are lucky to find a piece of jewelry from any of these brands, it could be worth a significant amount.
Paperwork for the vintage piece – if the piece was certified, you are certain that you will come across its certification papers, somehow. In some cases, the value will come from simple things like the jewelry box or case.
The elements above will essentially help you determine the type of jewelry you are holding. But it doesn’t end there, and you’d need to look at other markings, stamps, or other etchings. Don’t forget to check out the online prices of such vintage pieces.
Also, you need to choose a buyer carefully, making sure that you get the best prices for the products.
Tips for buying vintage jewelry
- Stop obsessing over the origin or source of the piece; some vintage pieces from popular brands or worn by specific people will often remain in the family, and the other few pieces on the market will remain hard to trace.
- Pay more attention to the workmanship of the piece rather than the stone’s size. What this means is that vintage jewelry might not be the jewelry style for you if you are into big gemstone pieces. This is an important consideration because some of the big vintage jewelry brands like Cartier paid less attention to the design or the mounting, meaning that the metals used and the set design may not be worth much, as would be the case with some of the gemstones. So, opt for that signature designer or brand design feature that makes the piece an iconic and valuable piece of jewelry.
- Unbranded pieces could be worth a lot, especially if the quality of the piece is extraordinary. You’d only want to check out the name of the workshop where the vintage piece is made/
- Choose the jewelry style you’d actually wear. Basically, long gone are the days you’d have to buy jewelry to keep them in a safe. So, buy a vintage piece of jewelry you love, something that will last a while.
- Don’t buy a piece of vintage jewelry just because you wish to use it as a piece of investment. Remember that you cannot predict the future, and when it comes to vintage jewelry, most people retain their value for as long as you have them, and you may not make much of it later on. If, on the other hand, you are looking to sell a piece of vintage jewelry, you may want to first investigate the most recent auction prices for insights into the actual current market value of the piece.
- Don’t buy a vintage piece because it’s the trendiest piece of the moment.
- Always research comprehensively before you settle on a piece, and avoid buying jewelry pieces regarded as vintage before you have all the necessary background information.
- Do not be one of those people who buy a brand piece just to buy that brand piece.
- Don’t rush into buying as many pieces as possible. Remember that less is more. Also, you need to be patient if you are collecting. You cannot build that perfect, well-rounded, and beautiful vintage collection instantly. So, research and hone in on the important features of the best vintage jewelry worth your money.
- Always take advantage of the auction houses because they often sell some of the best vintage pieces in their vintage and antique shows. On the same breath, you shouldn’t limit yourself to only buying vintage jewelry online. You are likely to bag the best deals from your neighborhood.
If you weren’t sure about where to buy the best vintage jewelry, this article shares important insights to guide you.
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.