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Buying Antique Jewelry Guide

Here are the basics on how to protect yourself when purchasing antique jewelry and what to look for in a good piece:

So, is it antique or vintage?

There’s actually a distinction between vintage pieces and antique pieces. Typically, a vintage piece of jewelry may be about 30 to 70 years old, while an antique piece could be hundreds or thousands of years old (in which case it should be in a museum).

What are the most popular antique jewelry pieces?

Most dealers offer a range of antique pieces, but collectors tend to prize pieces from the Victorian era and the Art Deco period of the early twentieth century. Jewelry from the Victorian period (1837-1901) tends to exude grace and history, while still exhibiting modern craftsmanship and quality. Pieces from earlier periods tend to be cruder and the stones of a lower grade, which is why jewelry collectors focus on the Victorian age.

Meanwhile, the antique jewelry from the Art Deco design era (1920-1930) attracts a lot of attention thanks to its unique shapes and overall style. Because of the industrial aesthetic, these pieces are distinct and highly valued amongst collectors.

What about modern “antiques?” What are they?

Because these styles are so popular, many jewelers are carrying pieces that look like antiques, but are actually made today. They’re not original Victorian brooches or Art Deco bracelets, but they’re made to look like it. These can be a great option for someone who wants the wearability and durability of a modern piece, but the look and style of an antique.

If I’m buying an antique, how can I be sure it’s real?

Always get every aspect of the piece in writing from the retailer, including the stone carats and quality. Then, have the piece appraised by an independent appraiser. If it doesn’t match the description given to you by the retailer, return the item for a full refund or ask to renegotiate the purchase price.

To prevent potential fraud or misrepresentation problems, always deal with reputable and respected dealers who offer a clear and easy-to-understand return policy.

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