Vintage jewellery is a term used to describe a piece of jewellery that has been previously owned. Antique is used to describe a piece of jewellery that is over 100 years in age; vintage includes several decades and eras
My hands down favourite part of this job is searching for unusual and valuable vintage pieces. I love the thrill of finding a piece and taking it home to try and find out more about it. I enjoy the adventure of learning and never knowing what you might find.
Here is a checklist of what to look out for when looking at vintage jewellery
Are there any markings or maker stamps on the piece? Is it signed? Are there any stamps to give away its origin?
By looking at the back of a piece you will be able to see if the piece is made of a valuable metal.
Gold hallmarks to look out for include 18K, 14K, 10K, 750, 585, 375.
Common platinum hallmarks include 950, PLATINUM, PLAT.
Silver hallmarks to look out for include 925, Silver, 800, Sterling. There are lots of different hallmarks, if your jewellery has a hallmark it is usually a good sign!
Check and feel the weight of the piece. More valuable metals are heavier in weight.
Look at the style of the piece, does the style of the piece give you any further indication of what era it was produced or who manufactured it?
Is the piece unusual? If the piece is unique it could be a one off piece made by a particular artist or craftsman who did not work for a big company. This could make the piece worth a higher premium.
Clues to age and quality of a brooch can be found by inspecting the clasp or hinge on the back. Good quality vintage brooches often come with safety chain.
High quality and more valuable costume jewellery will have its stones set in a prong setting rather than just being glued into place.
A good indication of whether a gemstone is natural or not is to feel if the stone is cold to touch
When it comes to identifying jewellery knowledge and experience is invaluable and this comes with time. If you are uncertain about a piece you can take it to a trusted local jeweller for their opinion. Great places to find vintage costume jewellery is auctions, flea markets, antique fairs, second-hand shops and estate sales.