Collecting Vintage Jewellery
Old Jewellery is a special type of collectable, you can wear it as well as admire it and it is always stylish. Antique and vintage jewellery has many things in common with other antiques and collectables which make these pieces more desirable than new. Lets look at the reasons for collecting vintage jewellery.
These are: i) Uniqueness, ii) Time consuming to source, iii) Specialist knowledge required ( or know a good dealer), iv) Desirable V) Historical Interest, VI) Stylish VII) Has investment potential VI) Quality VII) Price VIII) Fun
Lets examine each in turn:
Antique and Vintage Jewellery is more unique than new pieces. If you buy new ( with the rare exception of one off craftsman and artisan jewellery) you can buy at least one or two hundred. Most today is mass produced and therefore it is likely that someone else will be wearing the same item. We all know that ladies do not like to turn up somewhere and another lady is wearing the same dress. The same applies to Jewellery.
It is possible to find duplicates older jewels but this is rare. For example, out of nearly 2000 pieces of jewellery on AntiquesAvenue, I only have 2 or 3 with more than one item in stock
Time-Consuming to Source
Have you ever tried to source an exact piece of vintage? You will find it quite difficult even with something relatively common such as silver charms. I have a long list of customers wanting certain specific charms, gemstone rings in unusual sizes. Certain named designers such as Charles Horner can sell before they reach the shop.
The best way is to find a vintage jeweller you can trust and talk to them about your potential purchases. I’m always happy to hear from customers either by phone or e.mail and happy to advise about your vintage ring, brooch or pendant.
A specialist Vintage jeweller will be able to use their knowledge to tell you all about a piece. To do this they will interpret hallmarks, test metals which are not hallmarked. Then test the stones and look at the other materials and the way it was made. It will not always be possible to tell you exactly what gemstone is in your art deco earrings. A jeweller can certainly tell the difference between for example Glass, Rock crystal, White Sapphire and Diamonds. A specialist vintage jeweller will also be more likely to spot repairs and alterations and tell if they are original or repro.
It is quite possible that what starts out as a hobby collecting vintage jewellery to turn into an expert in a specialist area. For example, I know a lady who collects antique mourning brooches who knows far more about them than I every will.
At the moment vintage jewellery is high fashion but it has a special desirability of its own, an old-fashioned charm, provenance or a story behind the piece. Your piece of jewellery may well be made of materials no longer common including Vulcanite, Bakelite or Pinchbeck.
Pieces of Jewellery reflect the fashions that were popular at the time they were made. Art Deco is angular and bright. Art Nouveau is flowering and flowery. Mourning and Scottish pebble Jewellery were popularised by Queen Victoria wearing these and here subjects following her lead. The motifs will reflect their era. Flowers in the Edwardian era, fast cars and plane shapes in the art deco era and space age shapes of the 1950s.
Putting together a period style costume? Passionate about a decorative style in your house. Your accessories can reflect that too. Have you noticed how styles are repeated through the ages often with just small changes? Art Nouveau is a re-interpretation of Rococo. This was re-popularised in the 1970s and I’m thinking that the up to date flower and bird designs are just another reincarnation of the same theme.
Like all other antiques and collectables, it is possible to make money from buying and selling old jewels. Prices are affected by the scrap price of gold and silver and have skyrocketed in price in recent years. This is not the only influence. When the stock market or house prices go down up goes the gold price. These price rises may not continue long term. There is a fair chance that you purchase from Antiquesavenue will be an excellent long-term investment ( no that is not a promise just an observation). Also, the price is affected by fashion so there is an unpredictable element here too.
Have you seen the quality of some modern Jewellery? It is so lightweight that it will not last long. It certainly doesn’t look good. This applies to all types of jewellery rings and charms, brooches and earrings including the expensive designer names. Old jewellery is often much better quality. If in doubt ask the weight of an item and compare that to a new one. An 18-inch gold chain weighing a few grammes is not going to be as durable as a heavier piece.
Last and definitely not least, Vintage Jewellery is usually cheaper than the new equivalent. I presume that this is because of the specialist knowledge required to tell if the piece is real or not. Many do not have the confidence to buy these little pieces of history.
The main reason I started collecting vintage jewellery – it’s great fun.
Whatever your reason for collecting Vintage Jewellery with a bit of care it can be worn for many years and passed down through the generations as a family heirloom.
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