Antique Jewelry – The Definitive Guide (2024)



Antique jewelry is distinctly beautiful, featuring rich histories and generations of unique character. But what exactly is antique jewelry, what special factors do you need to consider when buying antique jewelry, and how can you be sure an antique piece is right for your style and preferences?


In this guide, we will explain the following:

  • What is Antique Jewelry?
  • Buying Antique Jewelry
  • Eras
  • Sustainability
  • Appraisal
  • Authenticity
  • Condition
  • is Antique Jewelry Right For You?

What Is Antique Jewelry?

Antique jewelry is more than just “old” – to be properly defined as antique, a piece must generally be more than 100 years old. Younger jewelry is considered vintage, even younger is modern, and the very youngest – just manufactured – jewelry is new.

To reach the century mark, jewelry must generally be high quality to resist tarnishing, damage, and general degeneration such as loosened settings and lost gems. Furthermore, true antique jewelry has not only stood the test of time, but has often been treasured and well-maintained to keep its brilliance intact. While some signs of aging are to be expected, the best jewelry pieces often look even better and more distinctive with the gentle patina of a lengthy history.


It can be challenging to ensure jewelry is truly antique. The provenance of the piece is critical – the history and documentation of its ownership. This may include original purchase receipts, wills or estate planning documenting ownership, maintenance records, insurance coverage, or other documents that can build a timeline of where the piece has been and how it as been treated. The more complete the provenance, the easier it is to confirm an antique piece of jewelry.

Finally, it is important to note that the quality of any type of jewelry can vary, no matter how old the piece may be. The care the jewelry has received over its lifetime, as well as the quality of its original workmanship, will determine just how well it can withstand a century or more of wear and tear. Furthermore, how often a piece is worn can make a tremendous difference in its quality over time. The treasured engagement ring that is passed down for generations and worn daily by different brides-to-be may be in very different condition than a holiday brooch that is worn only once or twice a year on formal occasions.


Buying Antique Jewelry


If you are considering buying antique jewelry, you should take just as much care with the purchase as you would for any new jewelry selection. Take the time to consider different antique eras – Edwardian, Victorian, Art Deco, etc. – as well as different overall styles. Note which metal types you prefer, whether you would like colored gemstones or diamonds, and what personal connections you may want to the piece, such as a family heirloom or geographic connection.



When browsing antique jewelry, note the quality of each piece and whether any damage must be repaired. The sustainability of antique jewelry, which could be considered the ultimate in recycling, can also be a consideration for wanting more of these pieces in your personal collection. Furthermore, antique jewelry is often highly ethical, as it was mined, designed, and crafted before modern wars or human rights atrocities.


If you find an antique piece you truly love, arrange for an independent appraisal to confirm the jewelry’s authenticity and quality. From there, note whether any repairs or cleaning may be necessary, and factor those considerations into the overall cost of the piece. Be mindful of ongoing special care and maintenance the piece may need to be sure you can always keep it looking beautiful.

Edwardian Old European Cut Diamond Filigree Engagement Ring Circa 1920's


Ensure that the piece is authentic and accurately represented by reputable sellers or dealers. Look for hallmarks, maker's marks, or other identifying characteristics to verify its authenticity.




Examine the condition of the antique jewelry carefully. While some signs of wear and age are expected and can add character to the piece, significant damage or alterations may affect its value and wearability.


Is Antique Jewelry Right for You?

Antique jewelry can be alluring, but whether or not it is the right style for you is a very personal choice. There are many unique and distinctive eras to choose from, and you should compare your modern preferences with what is or is not available in antique pieces to be sure you can match your style with jewelry you will truly want to wear. You need to understand what you are looking for – a signature piece? A statement piece? A holiday decoration? An engagement or wedding ring? Exactly how you plan to wear and enjoy an antique piece of jewelry can determine what style you like best and what quality features are most important.

Taking the time to choose your antique jewelry with great care will help you find exactly the piece that is best for you. Antique jewelry is already more than 100 years old, a bit more time and patience to find the piece that is right for you will be time well spent.



No matter which gemstone is your favorite, these time-honored gemstones have a rich history and individualized character and will continue to have a timeless beauty and elegant appeal that is part of a legacy to pass on to future generations.


Vintage rings are prized not only for their beauty but also for their exquisite attention to detailing and design. If you’re looking for a ring with a sense of glamour, sophistication and vintage charm, explore our collection of antique engagement rings today!



Suzanne has always believed vintage rings can change lives. She's been in the jewelry industry for over 35 years, working with vintage jewelers, diamond dealers, diamond cutters, and gemologists. Suzanne started Artdecodiamonds in 2000 and understood the demand for vintage rings throughout the world. She ultimately started in 2014, and understands each vintage ring is a reflection of you – your history, your relationships, your style, your elegance and is honored to have the opportunity to help you showcase your flair in a unique and exquisite way.

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Art Deco Emerald Ring

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