How to buy Vintage Jewellery.

buy vintageDo you buy vintage jewellery regularly? If so this post is probably not for you. It’s for the complete novice or those will just a few pieces of vintage jewellery looking to buy more.  As the owner of AntiquesAvenue, I buy a lots more jewellery than most will ever dream of. Here Id like to pass on a few of my favourite tips of the trade. Perhaps this article will be general and then I will move on to specifics such as how to but a vintage brooch.


First things

A few questions to consider. Is it for yourself or a gift? Have you any specific requirements on its age or the material it is made of? Do you want a genuine antique say pre-1920 or a vintage piece from the 1950s, 60s or 70s? Are the arts movements your thing say art deco, nouveau or arts and crafts?

What sort of occasion do you want it for? Everyday or a special dress up occasion.  Have you a budget in mind?  Are you thinking of buying on-line or do you want to buy in real life? Gold, silver or costume jewellery?

Which piece of jewellery do you want – earrings, bracelet, brooch, necklace.

Now it’s important to have an idea of these before you look as there is so much out there it could become quite confusing otherwise. If you don’t know take a look around on-line to get some ideas.

A word of warning many sites are selling imitation not genuine vintage and antique pieces. Sometimes you can tell by the number of each piece the site has in stock – more than one tends to mean new. Very occasionally you will come across two older pieces which are the same but its rare. If a site doesn’t say then send a message and ask them.


buy vintageHow to buy vintage jewellery

Earrings .

Normally silver or gold earrings are best for pierced ears. Costume jewellery earrings are great as clip on types but not where the post has to go through a hole in your ears.  Earrings are relatively simple pieces, it’s important to get the size right though. Too small and you won’t see them but this is great for every day. Too big and they hurt to wear.

With antique or vintage jewellery the fittings on the reverse can be quite painful to wear. I would consider replacing a shepherd’s crook type fitting for brand new ones. Certainly, I would want to fit my own butterfly backs or sterilise them in white spirit before wearing. All the earrings I see here have their butterfly backs cleaned in this way before sale.


I’m assuming that you are buying a vintage brooch to wear. There are two things to consider i) how pretty it is as its going to be very much on show. ii) Is the catch good, you don’t want to loose it after all.

The first of these is down to you. Having made your selection then turn it over and look at the catch both the hinge and fastening. Antique brooches used to have catches in the shape of a letter C. The pin hooks under the curve of the C, this clearly is not as safe as a brooch where there is a rollover safety clip. One thing you can do with a C catch type fastening is to get your jewellery to add a safety chain. This should be quite cheap on a silver or gold brooch

Necklaces and pendants.

The length of these is very important. Often 18 inches is chosen as it hangs to fill in the gap between the neck and the bust on a low cut top. Sometimes a collar length piece is preferred as it is seen more here. Longer lengths can get in the way for everyday but are great for larger ladies or special occasions.


Whichever ring you choose to consider what is sitting next to it. Different materials worn next to each other will wear the softest one out. So if you want a silver ring don’t wear it next to gold. Also don’t wear a nine and eighteen carat gold ring next to each other.  Check the settings around the stone with a vintage ring. You need to be sure that the stones are held firmly in place as you don’t want to loose them.

If the ring is not quite the right size then it can normally be adjusted by one or two sizes either way. Don’t attempt more than this as it disturbs the setting and you may loose stones. Adjusting a ring is not normally an expensive option and is quite acceptable if you love the piece.


One of the easiest pieces of jewellery too but for most ladies as there is not as much size variation as there is with pieces like rings. Also, the fit is not quite as important as they can be worn loosely or tight. With older pieces do check the catch. There are some unusual ones out there which are not as easy to operate as modern ones.

Whenever you buy vintage jewellery, Please do remember to have fun and enjoy it.