When it comes to owning and/or collecting jewelry, few items contain more history, meaning, and beauty than vintage pieces. Whether it’s an engagement ring, necklace, or bracelet, buying vintage jewelry requires meticulous attention to detail. Are you prepared to make a smart purchase?
There’s something beautiful and appealing about vintage jewelry that simply can’t be matched by modern designs and creations. Vintage jewelry – whether it’s an engagement ring, necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings – is timeless and compelling. Characterized by its scarcity and nostalgia, it evokes an emotional connection with the past.
But there are also plenty of challenges that come with shopping for vintage jewelry. Because of its appeal, there’s always the possibility that you could be taken advantage of and manipulated into purchasing something that lacks authenticity or value. There’s also the chance of overpaying for something.
As you shop for vintage jewelry, it’s important that you have a plan of attack. Using the following tips, you should find it easier to identify and purchase a piece that you’re truly satisfied with:
- Research the History
There’s obviously a significant relationship between vintage jewelry and history. If you want to understand the former, you must become educated in the latter. It’s the only way to understand what you’re buying and whether the jeweler knows what they’re talking about.
It’s also important to become familiar with the terminology that you’ll run across – particularly with vintage engagement rings. You’re probably already familiar with terms like halo, solitaire, and brilliant – but what about milgrain, filigree, old European cut, and old mine cut? These are terms you’ll run across, and it helps to already be familiar with what they mean.
- Shop Reliable Vendors and Jewelers
A lot of vendors will sell you “vintage” pieces, but only a few jewelers actually possess the knowledge and experience that’s required to properly curate, care for, and sell pieces as they should be sold. Be sure to find a reliable jeweler. Companies that specialize in vintage and estate jewelry are ideal.
A good vintage jeweler will have a wide selection of pieces, as well as the connections and relationships to find you a specific piece that they don’t already have in their inventory. They might not offer the cheapest prices, but cheap isn’t something you necessarily want to prioritize with vintage jewelry. Price and quality tend to be highly correlated in this industry.
- Ask the Right Questions
Always ask questions before making a purchase. There are no dumb questions when you’re paying thousands of dollars for vintage jewelry. If you’re purchasing from an individual or estate, it’s especially important to get a backstory.
“One thing I always like to ask is how the seller came across a piece,” style and fashion blogger Jacqueline Curtis writes. “I look for a viable story that would explain how the item came into the seller’s possession, such as that it was bought from an estate sale, is a family heirloom, or was found in the process of antique hunting.”
Depending on the type of piece and how much you’re spending, you may also ask for permission to have the piece reviewed by a third-party to provide an independent valuation.
- Get the Correct Paperwork
Finally, get all of the paperwork you possibly can when making a purchase. If there’s some sort of industry certification, you’ll need this in your possession. If there’s a warranty or return policy, this also needs to be in writing.
Verbal agreements are great, but – as a rule of thumb – nothing is official unless it’s in writing. Gather the appropriate documentation and file it away in a safe place.
Do Your Due Diligence
The vintage jewelry market is as unique as the individual pieces found within the industry. As you shop around, you’ll need to be intentional about where you look and how you compare your options. Authenticity, quality, price, and appeal are all factors in the decision-making process.
Take your time and patiently wait for the right option to present itself.