Monday, March 28, 2011

Vintage, Estate And Antique Jewelry Explained

You may have heard the words antique, vintage and estate jewelry used many times, however what do these words actually mean remains a source of confusion for many jewelry lovers. What is the difference between each of these categories?  Does this kind of jewelry really merit an extra price and which are the best places to buy this jewelry from?

To begin with we must know what the meaning of the word vintage is. The dictionary meaning of vintage is "of old, recognized and enduring interest, importance or quality." Originally the word was used to describe a year's wine harvest, in time, it has come to be used to describe almost everything that is old-fashioned including clothes, jewelry, cars or even comics. Vintage jewelry is generally recognized to be that which was manufactured between the years 1920 to 1930. Jewelry manufactured later (between 1930 and 1965) is known as retro jewelry. That which is manufactured earlier may be termed as antique.

18kt Yellow Gold and Diamond Estate Earrings
Estate jewelry is simply jewelry that was previously owned by someone else. It may or may not be 'vintage'.

14kt Yellow Gold and Colored Stone Ladys Side Bracelet Watch
Collectibles are antiques of tomorrow. These are items that are made around a specific theme, or in limited editions. For example; rings that have been designed around a centenary celebration.

Estate Yellow Gold Colored Stone And Diamond Snake Pin Pendant Estate Jewelry
An antique is an old item, desirable because of its age, beauty, rarity, condition, utility, personal emotional connection, or some other unique features. These definitions allow people to make a distinction between genuine antique pieces, vintage items, and collectible objects. As a rule of thumb an item must be at least 75 years old to be considered an antique.

So what is the difference between antique, estate and vintage jewelry? Now that we know the correct definitions of the three words it is easy to gauge that any previously owned item may be called estate jewelry. If it belongs to a comparatively recent era (1920 to 30s) it is vintage and if more than 75 or 100 years, an antique.

The terms antique and vintage are often used interchangeably in the trade. There are no clearly demarcated lines in time that differentiate antiques from vintage or vice versa. Within these periods jewelry belongs to many eras such as Georgian, early Victorian (romantic jewelry), mid-Victorian (grand jewelry), late Victorian (aesthetic jewelry), Art Nouveau, Edwardian and Art Deco jewelry.

These different eras incorporated different designs and used different materials for jewelry fabrication. Recognizing vintage jewelry is a matter of experience.

Pawn shops, antique dealers, auction houses and specialist vintage or estate jewelry dealers are places where one can buy this jewelry from. Nowadays a lot of jewelry manufacturers make jewelry that is specially put through processes to make it look old. There is nothing wrong with buying from these jewelers. As far as pawn shops or antique dealers are concerned, their reputation is the only indication of the trustworthiness of their merchandise. Remember that it is very difficult to get provenance (or proof) of the items authenticity. The best bet is to go with your judgment, check the finish and quality of the piece thoroughly and if you like it- goes for it.



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