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Spotting the Difference Between Vintage Jewelry and Antique Jewelry

Difference Between Vintage Jewelry and Antique Jewelry

Spotting the Difference Between Vintage Jewelry and Antique Jewelry

Some people think that vintage jewelry and antique jewelry must be the same thing, but they actually have some key differences. Click here to find out more.

There are tons of reasons to buy used goods, rather than something that was newly manufactured. When it comes to the secondhand market, we tend to focus on clothing, as this makes up the majority of what people buy secondhand. 

As a result, it can be a little more difficult to find resources that delve into the ins and outs of purchasing pre-owned jewelry. How do you find a great jewelry seller? How much are these pieces truly worth?

Today, we’re going to talk about the difference between vintage jewelry and antique jewelry. Understanding this difference can help you find exactly what you’re looking for from an honest, reputable seller.

Read on to learn more about vintage jewelry and antique jewelry to unpack some of the key differences.

What Counts as Vintage Jewelry?

When we’re talking about the difference between vintage and antique, there is an easy rule of thumb to go by: time. The terms vintage and antique in the world of pre-owned items refer to how old the piece is. That means that something that starts out as contemporary eventually becomes vintage and, with time, antique.

Vintage jewelry must be at least 20 years old, and no more than 99 years old. That means that right now, in the year 2021, we would consider anything that was made between 1922 and 2001 to be vintage.

What Is Considered Antique Jewelry?

If you’re a sharp reader, you’ve probably guessed what we would consider antique jewelry, as opposed to vintage! Once something hits the 100-year mark, it is henceforth considered an antique piece of jewelry. Right now, that would mean that anything made in 1921 or earlier would be considered antique.

As you can imagine, this opens up the world of antiques to a broad range of items. This is why most of the time when you’re shopping for antique jewelry, you’ll see the seller include a specific time period or style with each antique piece. This helps buyers and collectors narrow down when, exactly, a piece was first produced.

(Common examples include Victorian jewelry from 1837-1901, Edwardian jewelry from 1901-1910, and so on.)

Estate Jewelry: The Third Term With a Vague Meaning

Let’s take a quick look at another term you may encounter in your jewelry-purchasing endeavors: estate jewelry. 

Seeing the term estate jewelry isn’t inherently a red flag, but it does mean that you may want to ask more questions. In order to be considered estate jewelry, a piece doesn’t have to be of a certain time period. It simply has to be pre-owned. In other words, something that was purchased in 2020 and resold in 2021 could correctly be given the title, “estate jewelry,” even if it isn’t worth the asking price.

Most experienced sellers understand the value of something that is antique versus vintage versus contemporary. If a piece is labeled estate jewelry with no other qualifiers attached, it could mean that the piece is contemporary–or that the seller genuinely doesn’t know what they have.

What to Look For When Shopping for Pre-Owned Jewelry

Now that you have an understanding of the difference between vintage and antique jewelry, you’re probably thinking, “That seems kind of vague!” The truth is that these two qualifiers can help you narrow down your search for the perfect piece, but there’s more that you’ll want to look for in each listing. Let’s take a look at some possible clues that can give you a better idea of what you’re buying.

Year Made and/or Provenance

It’s always nice when a buyer can get more specific about when a piece was manufactured. Of course, it’s not always possible to give you an exact date, but providing a general era is useful.

Serious collectors may also want to see the provenance of a piece of jewelry, but it’s not always available (or necessary). Provenance refers to the history of ownership of a piece.

Disclaimers That Jewelry Has Been Restored or Repurposed

It’s absolutely common for jewelry to have been restored (repaired and cleaned) or repurposed (altered for a new use or appearance). However, it can be helpful to know if that’s the case.

For example, you may encounter a piece of jewelry that was originally made over 100 years ago but altered in the past 99 years. That means that the elements used are antique, but the style may not match what you expect from an antique piece.

The Difference Between an Antique Piece and an Antique-Style Piece

One thing that you really want to look out for is pieces that are antique versus pieces that are antique-style. For example, if a seller says that they have Edwardian jewelry for sale, the implication is that the jewelry was made in the Edwardian period. However, if a seller refers to a piece as Edwardian-style, it entails that the piece is not from the Edwardian period, but rather created to resemble the style of that time.

Fashion is cyclical, which is often what drives the secondhand market. However, it can also contribute to fast fashion companies who are simply making cheap versions of vintage or antique pieces. If you’re looking for authentic jewelry, you’ll want to skip the knock-offs and look for bonafide vintage or antique jewelry.

Shop Vintage Jewelry With Grandmas Jewelry 123

At the end of the day, the difference between vintage jewelry and antique jewelry can be as small as one year or as vast as hundreds of years. This can have a major impact on style, materials used, durability, and overall worth. At Grandmas Jewelry 123, we guarantee that you’ll find true vintage and antique pieces that are priced fairly.

Head to our eBay store to see our ever-growing collection. We’re sure that you’ll find your next favorite piece of vintage or antique jewelry!