Vintage jewelry can make a stunning fashion statement and be a gorgeous accent to your personal style, but how do you know if your vintage pieces are truly vintage? There are different ways to authenticate vintage jewelry and ensure it has the history and value you believe.
What You Need To Know---
The term “vintage” has a broad definition in fashion and jewelry. In general, items must be at least 20 years old to be considered vintage. Because jewelry eras tend to last longer and evolve more slowly than other fashion, décor, and style, however, most vintage pieces tend to be at least 50 years old. At the same time, vintage pieces are generally less than 100 years old, because at that advanced age, they are classified as antique rather than vintage.
Whether or not a piece of jewelry is truly vintage, however, also depends on the style of the piece. Flashier, more elaborate pieces tend to reflect changing styles more quickly, and therefore may be classified as vintage when they are younger than 50 years. Very simple pieces, however, may need to be older before their truly vintage character is noticeable. In general, however, jewelry that is 50-100 years old is agreed to be vintage.
Authenticating Vintage Jewelry
There are different ways to verify the authenticity of vintage jewelry pieces. To gain confidence about the history and value of a particular piece, consider…
• Official Documentation – Authentication is easy if the original purchase receipt is available for vintage jewelry. Other documentation, such as care and maintenance logs for repairs, resizing, or regular cleanings, as well as insurance paperwork that documents the jewelry, can also help verify its age.
• Personal History – If the piece in question is a family heirloom, knowing its personal history and the stories that have accompanied the piece through generations can help assure you of its vintage nature. This is especially true if the jewelry may appear in family photos, such as wedding photos or family portraits through the years.
• Piece Markings – Good quality jewelry typically has different markings that can help verify its authenticity. This might be stamps inside a ring’s band, on the back of a brooch, or near the clasp of necklace or bracelet. These markings can indicate the jewelry’s designer or maker, the composition of the metal, or other details, which can be used to verify age.
• Work Precision – Modern jewelry pieces are often laser-crafted and have very precise, sharp details. Vintage pieces, however, are hand-crafted and may not show exact symmetry or alignment in fine details. This not only adds character to the jewelry, but also helps show that it truly is a vintage piece.
• Materials – The metals in vintage jewelry are often different than those in modern pieces. The specific alloys and how the metals are combined can help determine if a piece is vintage, and how the finish of the piece has aged – any patina it has acquired over the years – can help verify that a piece is older rather than new.
• Gem Condition – Just like the metalwork precision of a piece of jewelry, the precision of any gemstone cuts can also indicate whether a piece is vintage or modern. Older pieces may have less symmetry in their facets, and wear on the edge of each facet can show that a piece is old and has a long history.
• Gem Cut – Just like all types of fashion, different gemstone cuts go in and out of style. Any older cut, such as a rose cut or old European mine cut, can verify that a piece is truly vintage, whereas more modern cuts with extra facets or trademarked styles are only found on newer, non-vintage pieces.
• Clasp – Vintage bracelets, pendants, and necklaces use different types of clasps than more modern jewelry. Similarly, how firmly the clasp closes and how well it functions can also be one more clue about the age of the jewelry. The posts and clasps on earrings can also vary between vintage and modern pieces, helping verify their authenticity.
• Retailer Reputation – When purchasing vintage jewelry, working with a well-respected, experienced retailer can give you peace of mind about the authentication of each piece. Check the retailer’s reviews, as well as their certifications, Better Business Bureau ratings, and other professional associations to confirm the retailer’s reputation.
• View the Inventory – When a website or store has a full inventory of vintage jewelry, this is a true indication that you can trust that the inventory is authentic and original.
Ideally, it is best to check several clues for authenticating vintage jewelry. The more verification that is available from different sources, the stronger the authentication will be and the more confident you can feel about the history and value of any vintage piece.
Does Authenticity Matter?
Ultimately, authenticating vintage jewelry is useful, particularly for valuable pieces. Knowing the age and value of a piece can help to ensure you get proper care for cleaning or repairing the piece, or you can be sure the price of a piece is fair, whether you are buying a vintage piece or planning to sell a piece of your own. Furthermore, if you want to add vintage jewelry to an insurance policy, authentication may be necessary to guarantee proper coverage.
If, however, your interest in vintage jewelry is sentimental and it’s just a piece you love and enjoy, the outcome of an authentication isn’t as critical. So long as you appreciate the piece and it reflects your personal style, that may be all the authentication you need, and you can give the piece a long and colorful history as part of your jewelry collection for many years to come.
Antique Jewelry For Everyone
No matter which era is your favorite, these time-honored rings 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.
Find The Perfect Piece Of Vintage Jewelry
Antique diamond 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 and vintage jewelry today.