Are you thinking of selling antiques online? Selling anywhere such as the new Talking Antiques shops, eBay, Etsy or even your own website? One of the skills you will need to learn is how to create good descriptions. As I have been selling antiques online for almost 20 years now I’ve picked up a tip or two along the way which I’m going to share with you here. These are not specific to any particular sales venue, they apply wherever you sell on the internet.

Selling Antiques Online

selling antiques online

1. Good pictures sell items.

Make your item the star of the picture.
Fancy backgrounds can distract the eye. It is recommended that we photograph on a white background. Personally, I place my items for photographing on white paper. The professionals who create the catalogues for auction houses also do this.
Keep the background areas to a minimum.
Get a photo editing package and crop your photos so there is only a little background showing. A small photo in the middle of a large area does not show off the detail your customers need to see. 
Photo Size
Each selling venue will have its own size standards. Find out what they are and edit your photos to that size.For eBay I use 800 pixels x 800 pixels on my jewellery. For Talking Antiques the photos are best off being square and I would keep them no less than 500  500 pixels.
Take pictures from several angles.
You need to show the front and backs of pieces so that buyers can see what they are getting. Complex shapes and larger items need more photos. For example, a ring needs the top, sides, lying flat, beneath the head and any relevant hallmarks. Include any makers marks. Use photos to back up the text you are writing.
Good Lighting is essential.
 Bright sunlight is brilliant. If you can photograph your items outside on a sunny day it will help them look good. Living in England, I don’t have all year round sun so I have a set of overhead daylight bulbs. This is probably a bit OTT for a beginner though. Any overhead lamps will help.
Take honest Photos
Do not photoshop any flaws out of your photos and do make sure that flaws are visible in your pictures.

 2. Describe your item well

Write a few words about your item. Honesty is very important here as you do not want bad feedback or returned items.

What is it?  A wardrobe, brooch, glass vase? It is not always immediately obvious from photos

How old is it? If you know the date then included this even if it is a broad range such as the 1950s – 1970s. Alternatively, say the era such as Victorian or a style such as  Art Deco. Remember to say if it’s original to that time or a more modern copy.

What is it made of? Plastic, silver, gold plated? Whatever it is you should include a statement about the composition. If it is silver coloured say so rather than just saying silver

Makers Markings and Hallmarks.  These are very useful to your buyer and will certainly help sell your piece

Condition. Be honest and include all flaws and wear and tear. If it is not absolutely perfect then say so. Describe small chips and restoration work or any age related wear.

Size. In inches or centimetres or better still both. You can put a ruler in the photos or a coin against a smaller object to give an idea of scale. I dont like the latter as not everyone internationally knows the size of coins in countries other than their own.

3. Write a clear headline

One of the most important points for selling antiques online. Include the relevant facts in your headline. Headlines are used by the shops to help select items are shown in customer searches. If you want your piece to show up then take a bit of time crafting your headlines. For example, If I have a diamond engagement ring to sell I would not simply put the word Ring or Jewellery in the headline. Something like “1920s 18ct Gold Diamond Engagement Ring Size M” would be much more suitable.

4. Include details about postage

It’s difficult to show this for all countries for some items. Jewellery is easy, Pianos are not. You can just say contact me for shipping costs. I find it easier to state at least domestic shipping. I state overseas shipping where I know it. If not I ask the client to contact me with the shipping destination so I can work out the cost.

5. Terms and conditions.

Have you thought about your terms and conditions? Do you accept returns? If so then say so and how long the buyers have to return the item. If not then say so as well so the buyer knows in advance. How long do you take between receiving payment and shipping your antiques? Set your customer expectations here.

6. Your contact details.

A minimum of an email address. A phone number is also good. To start with I was worried about including my phone number as I thought it would be constantly ringing. Actually, that is not the case and the number of phone calls is quite reasonable.


Have you any more hints and tips for writing descriptions for selling antiques online? Do let me know and I will update this article.