InStyle

How to shop for Vintage and Antique Jewellery

Buying vintage jewellery can be easy and fun, if you follow these tips

My Mum recently gave me some vintage jewellery that was my grandmother’s, and it is one of my prized possessions. In addition to being sentimentally valuable, it has excellent durability and quality and is abso-freaking-lutely gorgeous.

There are stacks of reasons to love vintage jewellery. Unfortunately, often we find that what looks like vintage jewellery is a well-made reproduction. If you love older pieces, it’s super important that you know what to look out for, so you that don’t end up paying top dollar for something manufactured last year.

Make sure you know what you like

Learn about what you want in vintage jewellery well before you start buying it. Research your favourite era, favourite designers, favourite stones, metals, and anything else you can think of. If you like a designer of mass-produced jewellery, learn about when they were actually working, who they designed for, what materials the finished pieces were made of, and where they were sold. In as much detail as you can.

Investigate the seller

When you search for vintage jewellery online, the first thing you should do is check for other items for sale. If a seller has a bunch of the same “vintage” ring, I’m going to assume that it’s not the real deal. Most vintage and antique pieces are one-of-a-kinds, so ordering in bulk isn’t an option.

It’s also important to look through the feedback of a seller if you can, and see what other buyers have said about the items. If a seller has sold vintage in the past, you can get a good idea of how satisfied a buyer was at a certain price.

Ask Questions

Get in touch with the seller, ask a few questions about the piece so you can decide if it’s authentic or not. One thing you should always ask is how the seller came across an article. A viable story may be that it came from an estate sale, is a family heirloom, or was found when antique-ing.

An honest seller can always provide some type of info about where the piece came from, along with some general info about the date and location it was acquired and its overall condition.

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Check for a mark

If a piece is said to have been made before 1950, check for some type of mark, like a small icon of the initials of the maker.

Next, do some research on the mark. There are many sites that you can use to find out explanations of the origins and craftsmen behind the different pieces.

Look for patina

“Patina” is the word dealers use for the sheen that occurs after years of wear. While pieces can be restored by dealers, most antique jewellery is sold as-is, so that the metal isn’t damaged.

Basically, your article should show signs of wear and tear. Discolour, dents and a lack of sheen are all earmarks of real-dealness. If something looks like it’s brand new, ask if it’s been restored. Otherwise, assume it’s aclever fake.

Consider the Price

If the price is too good to be true,  be careful. True estate, antique and vintage pieces are made to last and aren’t going to go for a couple of dollars. Compare the price to the stones, metal and significance of the item.

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Try IRL

If you’re worried about buying jewellery from a dealer or online, hit up an estate sale, or try a jewellery fair.

Look through the goods and keep an eye out for a true vintage piece. If there aren’t any credentials, negotiate a better price before buying, then head to an excellent appraiser to make sure you have actually purchased a piece of vintage jewellery.


Whether you want to get into the jewellery biz to resell, or because you’re a bit sentimental, or you just like the style, you can find incredible vintage and antique pieces almost anywhere.

By checking the pieces meticulously, you can separate the real deal from the fakes and make sure you get a deal on jewellery that is like wearing a time capsule.

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

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