5 Steps to buying Vintage/Antique Jewelry

5 Steps to buying Vintage/Antique Jewelry

Okay, so I love estate jewelry – vintage or antique jewelry. Even though I’m not big on accessories, the things I do wear are usually grandeur-worthy and dramatic. In fact, I like to wear a one-statement piece rather than many small ones with my outfits. This explains my obsession. Moreover, buying antique and vintage pieces offers benefits not only for your purse and style but also for historical and environmental preservation, as well as value and quality.

Vintage and/or antique jewelry is simply a timeless accessory. Antique engagement rings are definitely the all-time favorites, for example. The worth is usually determined by specific measures of quality, craftsmanship, and current market demands. However, it is not limited to that. You don’t have to break the bank to be able to own an antique/vintage jewelry piece and can buy easy style-copies from all over the internet. But how do you actually determine the style, design, and range? How do even know what kind of jewelry is a shout out to which era? Well, here’s a 101 on everything you need to know to start your antique/vintage jewelry collection today!

Step 1: Understand your Estate Jewelry

The terms estate, vintage, and antique are often used interchangeably in the jewelry market, but their differences are important in determining the value of an item. In broad terms, estate jewelry refers to any piece that has been previously owned, regardless of its age. Antique and vintage jewelry are two types of estate jewelry. Vintage jewelry is more than 20 years old and less than 100. ​Vintage pieces​ make great collectors’ items because they reflect the style of a recent decade or era. One example is Art Deco jewelry, made in the 1920s to 1930s and characterized by geometric lines, sharp angles, and bright colors, featuring Egyptian, African, and Japanese motifs. Diamonds and pearls were both popular during this time.

Antique Jewelry goes centuries in the past. The most popular antique jewelry eras include:

Georgian (​1714-1837):

Floral and scroll motifs were also common, along with stones and materials such as garnets, topaz, coral, and diamonds set in silver.

Victorian​ (1837-1900):

Semiprecious stones that are more affordable with varied materials and designs depending on whether a piece was early, mid-, or late Victorian.

Early Victorian (1837-1850):

Romantic jewelry often featuring images of natural elements in delicate, floral designs in gold etchings, colored gemstones or diamonds.

Mid-Victorian (1860-1880)

The grand period that popularized “mourning jewelry” characterized by subdued designs and dark stones, such as jet, onyx, and amethyst.

Late Victorian (1885-1900)

Jewelry of the Aesthetic- designed with diamonds and cool-colored gemstones like blue topaz and sapphires. Stars and crescents were common motifs featured in lace pins and brooches.

Edwardian / Belle Epoch ​(1900-1910)

Diamonds and pearls set in platinum, along with chokers, pendants, and strings of pearls rose in popularity. Designs became much more elaborate and decorative and featured gemstones such as emeralds and rubies.

Art Nouveau ​(1890-1910)

Art Nouveau jewelry mimicked the period’s graceful style through a plant, bird, and insect designs. Glass, semi-precious stones, and enamel were popular materials.


5 Steps to buying Vintage/Antique Jewelry

Step 2: Match Occasion & Personna

If you’re buying for yourself, consider the types of jewelry you feel comfortable wearing. Size, durability, color, and overall style will influence your purchases. For example, clear rhinestone brooches look fabulous on denim shirts and jackets so even the most casual dresser can enjoy a little glitz now and then, while colorful vintage brooches of all types complement business attire. When buying gifts, it doesn’t make sense to buy your 15-year-old niece a huge rhinestone brooch if you never see her wearing pins larger than the size of a quarter. And will your aunt who dresses boldly wearing flashy jewelry appreciate a pair of dainty rhinestone earrings? Not so much.

Step 3: Seek Quality

I discovered from some experts that – Extremely worn plating, darkened or cloudy rhinestones, missing parts, clasps that don’t work properly, missing stones, and chipped or scratched enamel all lower the value of a vintage piece. Obvious repairs such as sloppy soldering and haphazard stone replacements should also be avoided. That can mean close inspection is necessary to see some of these important details, so take care when examining online photos. Don’t pay top dollar in a fit of last-minute shopping desperation for a piece in poor condition.

Step 4: Try, rotate, repeat

The way antique jewelry is bought and sold is changing by the second thanks to the internet. Taking the transaction out of the environment of retail stores and into the homes of consumers. For instance, I recently discovered a website – Flaxman Fine Jewelry where I boosted my collection.

Step 5: Get obsessed with Antique Jewelry

You might not be thinking about eco-friendliness when you’re searching for additions to your jewelry collection, but purchasing previously-owned pieces benefits the planet in multiple ways. Antique jewelry creates a re-circulating jewelry market that decreases the demand for new items, meaning less mining and air pollution, as well as fewer manufacturing byproducts. Less production also preserves resources, forests, fuel, water and wildlife habitats.


Voila, that’s all in my 101 on buying Vintage/Antique Jewelry. Thanks to Flaxman Fine Jewelry for helping me put this article together. Do check out their website and get your collection started.

If you have any suggestions or picks, do leave them in the comments below.

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Aditi Parashar
"We rise when we lift others"~ 26; Traveling in Style | PositiveVibes | Feminist |