Who doesn’t love a great find when it comes to vintage jewelry? Unearthing those one-of-a- kind pieces with a rich history and authenticity is like an exciting treasure hunt. But buyers beware, don’t fall for the ‘fools gold’ of antique jewelry. What you find could very likely be a replica so here are some tips to help in your pursuit of that perfect vintage piece.
1. Research Design History
If you know the designer you want to purchase, familiarize yourself with some of their design markings. Depending on the era a piece was made, the designer may have used certain stamps or marks in different time periods. Chanel, for example, had no mark on their jewelry from about 1930-1950’s but starting in the 1960’s have used a variety of marks, including stamping Chanel right into the piece. As with any purchase, the more you know about the vintage jewelry you are searching for the more likely you will be to get a good deal.
2. Investigate the Seller
This is especially important for online purchases of antique or vintage jewelry. It is always good to look through the feedback a seller has received to see how other buyers rate their experience. Also, reviewing what other products they are selling can tell you if the jewelry piece is truly antique. Obviously, if they have 5 of the same ‘vintage ring’ for sale then you will know it is a knock-off.
3. Ask About Origin
Because vintage jewelry has a history, ask the seller how they came across the piece and what they know about it. Asking if you can see the designer’s mark or if there is any documentation from an estate sale or family heirloom may help decipher authenticity. Honest sellers will be able to give some information on where they found the jewelry and something about its condition and the time frame it was made.
4. Compare Prices
Antique jewelry pieces can be quite rare so if a price seems like a great deal, it might be too good to be true. Shop around online or in your local Gilbert jewelry or antique stores to see how much vintage jewelry is selling for, especially if you are searching for a certain designer. Take into account the condition of the piece and the material it is made with including the type of metal and quality of the jewels. If similar types of jewelry are priced hundreds of dollars apart then something doesn’t add up and the cheaper one may be a replica.
5. Look for Patina
After years of use, true vintage jewelry will have ‘patina’ or a sheen on the metal or stones from years of wear. Trademarks of real antique jewelry include patina, dents, lack of shine or tarnish. To avoid damaging the metal or stones most vintage jewelry will be sold in ‘as-is’ condition. If you find a piece that looks newer, ask if the item has been restored as restoration is possible with a professional process.
6. Find the Maker’s Mark
Look for logos or writing on the inside and outside of the piece to try to determine the designer. A quick online search can be helpful to view photos of small icons or initials of well-known designers and their marks. Pure common sense can prove useful as well because if you think ‘Versace’ looks more like ‘Versoce’ or ‘Gucci’ is misspelled ‘Guci’ then you may have a counterfeit on your hands.
7. Try Estate Sales
Try your own hand at antiquing! Go straight to the source and buy first-hand from an estate sale. Search online or in the classifieds for Gilbert, Chandler or Mesa estate sales. Because these jewels are coming from a personal collection, you can bypass a dealer and negotiate price more easily.
8. Purchase From A Trusted Vintage Jeweler
Those that are in the business of jewelry come across all different kinds of jewelry, from modern to vintage. This gives them an added familiarity and a keen eye at establishing the authenticity and the quality of materials and gemstones. If you are yearning for a quality vintage piece, but don’t have the time to become an expert yourself then you can benefit greatly from seeking out a local expert for advice and help with vintage jewelry selection. The more familiar you become with your vintage jewelry expert the more knowledge you will find yourself picking up along the way. Before you know it you will have the expert eye that will let you shop for vintage jewelry with confidence!
However you come by your favorite vintage jewelry, the feeling of wearing a piece of history is certainly exciting. If you have any questions about an antique piece you have come across or wish to start your own vintage collection please call or stop by our Gilbert jewelry store.