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The Why’s and How-To’s of Vintage Jewelry
The “out with the old, in with the new” mentality isn’t always the case with jewelry. Choosing jewelry has always been a matter of preference and taste. Whether you like modern looking jewelry or not, there is always a special place in people’s hearts when it comes to owning heirloom or vintage jewelry; it is a memorable piece of history and sentimental value at your fingertips. These exquisite pieces symbolize the evolution and growth of the jewelry craft and have shaped the current trends and jewelry we have today.
Why buy vintage jewelry?
1. Value for money
Everyone likes to save money. This is one of the most popular reasons why people buy old or used jewelry; provides good value for your money. This is especially true for contemporary pieces that are still being produced today, or pieces that are plentiful on the market. Estate jewelry is a bargain compared to buying a hefty price tag at retail. Since it is a pre-owned piece and has been previously worn or used, the price for it sometimes drops significantly. If you don’t mind a few scratches every now and then to save money, then second-hand jewelry is definitely for you. Plus, a lot of used pieces are actually still in original and excellent condition. Finding these pieces can be a real bargain!
2. Unique and unique
Jewelry has been around for centuries. Each era has its own unique craftsmanship and distinctive design that suits the tastes and preferences of many people. With the absence of cutting edge technology at the time, each piece was intricately handcrafted using old world techniques and hundreds of hours. No piece looks and is made exactly the same. Some of these techniques are no longer used and shaped the way jewelers make jewelry today. Uniqueness and rarity also add to the value of vintage pieces overtime.
Unlike today’s shopping for new and trendy pieces, you can customize your ring to the most specific criteria possible. From carat weight, color, clarity, design, table ratio, millimeter stem size, etc., a renowned jeweler can work with you and make a custom-made polka dot ring designed by you. With combo pieces, what you see is often what you get. You will need a lot of time going from website to website or store to find a piece that really appeals to you. That’s actually the thrill of shopping for vintage jewelry. Some people credit finding and buying heirloom jewelry as mementos of the experience of finding that particular piece.
3. Exceptional quality
Vintage jewelry exhibits exceptional quality due to the fact that it has stood the test of time. Jewelry is an investment that almost everyone develops a relationship with and takes really good care of. Therefore, most vintage jewelry is still in very good and wearable condition. You will be surprised how pristine and well cared for some very old pieces we have in our collection. Due to their high standards of quality and reputation, many jewelers like Roman Malakov sell heirloom and quality jewelry that is durable and will last you for many generations to come (with proper love and care, of course).
4. History at your fingertips
As I said earlier, people develop certain attachments to jewelry because it symbolizes special relationships and memorable experiences in their lives. Each antique piece has its own place in history and you are essentially a part of that story. This is something new jewelry just doesn’t have. They become symbols of previous eras and the crafts they had at that time. If it weren’t for the preservation and value of used jewelry, today’s and future generations would not appreciate the distinctive and creative design of each era.
Buying vintage jewelry
1. Buy from a reputable jeweler
Thanks to today’s technology, finding a reputable jeweler is just an app or a click away. Check out a jewelry store near your location; be sure to check out their reviews, policies, customer experience (eg yelp, google reviews), knowledge, etc. Unfortunately, there are stores out there that intentionally or unintentionally trick their customers into buying fake antique pieces. This is why it’s incredibly important to do your due diligence on the seller when buying jewelry in general. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure they answer your questions honestly and transparently. If you’re buying vintage jewelry online, make sure the seller has multiple pictures of the piece and has a well-written description of the piece. If not, ask for more pictures or information. Jewelers are most likely to send multiple pictures that show the condition of the item and are transparent with their customers. Trust is one of the foundations of buying jewelry.
2. Rate the condition of the item
Most jewelers do not restore or polish old jewelry to preserve the authenticity and antique feel of the pieces. Since this is a used piece that has been worn for years, it should show signs of wear (eg scratches, dents, etc.). Small signs of wear are ideal; but be sure to check that there are no cracks on the metal or chips on the stones. If it looks new, ask if it has been refurbished. If you’re shopping online, make sure you see multiple views of the piece and research the jeweler’s return policy.
In the past, jewelry makers often signed their piece, leaving traces of their initials or a small symbol. Make sure you check it out because it’s a good sign of authenticity. This is especially true for pre-owned designer pieces such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Chopard, etc. These designer jewelry companies will always mark and sign their piece. If you are buying branded second-hand jewelry, ask if it has the original box and papers. If they have certificates of authenticity, make sure the number on the certificates matches the number stamped on the piece.
3. Research and price control
Appearances are deceptive. This is why even a little research goes a long way. Research diamond prices, what styles appeal to you, how much it usually costs, etc. Not only will you be more confident when shopping for vintage jewelry, but it will also take less time and be much easier to shop from store to store. The more information you have, the more likely you are to get an authentic piece and negotiate a reasonable price.
Because heirloom or vintage jewelry is unique, be careful when they sell antique pieces in bulk. If a seller advertises that they have more than 1 of the exact same item, tread carefully. They may have made antique looking pieces and they are not authentic antiques. Be especially aware of their word usage; an example of this is “antique style” or “antique look”. These usually mean newly made jewelry that has vintage designs.
Also, vintage jewelry has a lot of history and value to sell cheaply. If you see an antique piece selling for an amazing price (eg a 1 carat antique diamond ring for $20-$100), think twice. As I said before, without the technology we have now, it would usually take previous generation jewelers hundreds of hours to process and produce a stunning and unique piece. It takes precision, knowledge and experience in craftsmanship to create a piece that will last for generations. That much work just isn’t worth a few dollars (unless the seller is clueless). This is where research comes in. Checking and verifying the information and description on a piece (eg price of diamond/gem, price of similar pieces, weight of gold, size of stones, etc.) to determine its true value is fundamentally important. to know that it is authenticity. If the price is significantly different or different from other similar pieces, think about it.
You can find and buy antique and vintage jewelry almost everywhere; whether online or in brick-and-mortar stores. Shopping smart is always the most important thing when buying jewelry (year-old or not). But if you want to buy authentic antiques, distinguishing the real from the fake will ensure that you get the right price for the right item. Research is key.
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