Vintage jewelries are not only luxury accessories. They are precious works of art that represent an era, a certain period of time, and a moment in history. This is why they come with expensive price tags and their value increases over time. Consequently, more people are treating them as investments. If you are in the market to build your vintage jewelry collection or find the most expensive costume jewelry for investment, then you have to go to the right place.
Here are the most important tips to get the best pieces for your money.
Understand what’s vintage
First, learn what makes a certain jewelry vintage. Definitions may vary, but the most commonly accepted standard is it should be at least 20 years old and less than 100 years old. If it is more than a century, then it’s considered antique.
It is also important to note that vintage jewelries do not exclusively refer to jewelries made by master jewelers and designers. Fashion, fine, and costume jewelries can also be considered vintage. Many of the most expensive costume jewelry are actually vintage jewelry. That is despite the fact that many of them use faux stones.
Prices for vintage jewelries range from $500 all the way to $1 million, or even more. The value depends on a lot of different factors, from the rarity of the materials used, the jeweler, and condition. No matter the price, the most expensive costume jewelry often has three things in common – rarity, condition, and craftsmanship.
So how do you buy vintage jewelry? Here are some tips to know.
Know the vintage brands
The best way to start your journey is to identify some of the most well-known vintage jewelry brands out there. There is a reason why collectors are drawn to these brands, as they have history, style, and some of the rarest pieces ever produced. Many times, branded pieces hold sentimental value or interesting stories. Experts suggest getting these brands, especially those made in the 19th and 20th century.
Some of these brands include:
- David Webb
- Tiffany & Co.
- Van Cleef & Arpels
You can never go wrong with these brands.
Knowing the pinnacle of the legacy of each brand can give you the most precious and rare pieces. That requires extensive research and work.
Know the different artists
As said earlier, the most valuable vintage pieces come with the best craftsmanship. If you are really passionate about expanding your collection, then you need pieces from the best jewelers in history.
The more you know about the design and style of a specific designer, the more you will understand the value of their work. The same works with paintings, many of Picasso’s works are considered genius masterpieces, but some are not considered great. The key is to find the best from each collection.
Know your style
The real value often lies on how jewelry fits with your own personality. Obviously, you want to buy things that you would love to wear and include in your collection. It is a very intimate experience and it takes a lot of knowing yourself. If it makes you feel good when you wear it, then you cannot go wrong with that.
Make sure that when you buy a piece, you consider the style. Will it stand the test of time? It is easy to fall in love with trendy styles but that is the exact opposite of collecting vintage.
Figure out what you really like, what you really love to see yourself wearing. Do your research and scour the catalogs. Attend some auctions that specialize in vintage and learn about different styles, designs, designers, brands, and more.
Scrutinize the jewelry
Now that you have a good idea what to look for and you know your style, then it is time to go out there and examine jewelry.
Scrutinize jewelries from all angles. Look thoroughly, from front and back. Vintage and antiques are expertly finished but not without signs of wear and tear. After all, it is old.
Check the stamp (the signature of the jeweler or designer); examine the prongs, the quality and condition of the gemstones. If possible, try the jewelry yourself. Does it look and feel right when you wear it? If you find any issues, then that is a good reason to negotiate the price.
Old should look old
As said earlier, vintage and antique jewelries come with great craftsmanship but not without signs of wear and tear. If the jewelry is truly old, then it should look old.
If someone says a ring is more than 100 years old, yet the enamel looks pristine, then that is an obvious red flag.
Size and weight are also good indicators of age. Many old chain jewelries, like the Georgian chain, were quite light. Most antique cuffs and rings tend to be smaller in size compared to today, this is because most people in that time period had smaller hands, wrists, and fingers.
Research what you are buying
Do your due diligence to research and know more about a specific vintage piece before you commit. Get as much background information as possible. There are countless fakes out there, and the last thing you want is to spend your hard-earned money on fakes.
If you know and trust someone in the vintage jewelry market, then it would not hurt to consult them before making any purchase. A good seller will let you take the piece to a professional for authenticity and quality check.
Know where to buy
There are lots of antique shops and jewelry stores that sell vintage jewelry. Many even sell the most expensive costume jewelry. Be open to every opportunity out there, you never know when you can find pieces you actually like. However, make sure you know where you are buying from.
If you want designer jewelry, then go to a reputable and established store or antique dealer.
If you are searching for items to buy in antique markets or shows, ask if you can take their jewelry to a reputable antique or vintage dealer and have the item you like professionally evaluate.
While there are ways to learn more about the ins and outs of vintage jewelry-buying, it is best to leave it to the experts on finding the right jewelry for your collection. Fortunately for you, there are lots of reputable retailers nowadays, both online and offline, who ensure the authenticity and quality of the vintage jewelry. You can find them by a simple online search.