When it comes to buying jewelry, new is not necessarily better. Modern mass-produced jewelry certainly has its charms, but each piece of vintage and estate jewelry has a story to tell. If you want a piece of jewelry that is unique, beautiful and built to last, it is hard to beat the appeal of quality estate and vintage jewelry.
When you slip a vintage ring on to your finger or slip a vintage pendant around your neck, you can just feel the history of that piece calling to you. But before you head out to the local antique store in search of vintage jewelry, you need to arm yourself with the facts. Here are 5 big secrets about the estate and vintage jewelry market.
#1. The Quality of the Seller is Key
As with other kinds of jewelry, the quality and reputation of the seller is an important factor. Be sure to research the dealer you are planning to work with, checking reviews, talking to other buyers and verifying that the pieces they sell are truly genuine. When you buy estate jewelry, you need to know you are getting what you are paying for, and that makes choosing the right dealer essential.
#2. Vintage Jewelry May Not Be Shiny
Quality vintage jewelry will have a patina, a layer that can reduce the shine and make the piece look more charming. Remember that the appeal of vintage jewelry is its age and its long history. It is not unusual for even the best pieces to have a few dents and scratches. In fact, vintage and estate jewelry is often more valuable when left in its original condition, and restoring or replating it could actually destroy its value.
#3. Knowing the History of a Piece is Very Important
When shopping for estate or vintage jewelry be sure to ask plenty of questions about the piece, from how old it is to how the dealer came to own it. Reputable dealers keep scrupulous records on the pieces they take in and their history. Be wary of any dealer who acts cagey when asked where a particular piece of jewelry originally came from.
#4. Estate Sales are Great Places to Buy
If you want to get a great deal on a beautiful piece of jewelry, the local estate sale is the perfect place to be. Top quality jewelry often shows up at estate sales, and the prices can be far lower than the local dealer. You will have to do some homework and know what to look for, but you could save a lot of money by scouring estate sale listings and readying your bidding hand.
#5. Look for a Maker’s Mark
The designers of vintage jewelry were very proud of their work, and they usually placed a maker’s mark somewhere on each piece they created. Be sure to look for that maker’s mark, as its presence could increase the value of the jewelry and verify its authenticity. The location of the maker’s mark varies, so do your homework and find out where it should be. Some popular designers were widely copied, and a maker’s mark in the wrong place could be an indication that the piece is a fake.
When you wear a piece of vintage jewelry, you become part of its history. Knowing how to shop and what to look for can make your introduction to the world of vintage jewelry a positive one and help you get a great bargain on a great piece of jewelry art.