8 tips for finding authentic antique jewellery

November 24, 2014

Whether you're an amateur collector or you just want a piece of quality jewellery that’s unique, here's what you need to know before you begin your hunt for authentic antique pieces.

8 tips for finding authentic antique jewellery

1. Reach out to a gemologists

  • If you’re serious about finding antique jewellery or gemstones, you may want to talk to a professional jeweller or gemologist from a professional trade organization or company.
  • They may be able to refer you to experts nearby who restore and sell antique jewellery.

2. Visit a trade show

  • Attending a jewellery trade show or antique jewellery fair is a great way to see what’s out there.
  • You’ll be able to talk to expert collectors and craftspeople who deal in antiques.

3. Attend an auction

Estate auctions are also good places to find antique jewellery. If you know your stuff, or have a good antiques guide, you may find an unexpected treasure or two.

  • Antiques auctions are also worthy haunts, as the auction catalogue will feature all you need to know about a piece’s provenance and value.
  • If you’re a novice collector, you may want to observe a few auctions before you jump in.

4. Visit an antique dealer

For newbies wondering where to find antique jewellery, antique dealers are probably the best place to start looking.

  • Learn what you can about the reputations of different dealers; if they have good credentials, it’s worth taking a look at their treasures.
  • Don’t be shy to ask for a professional evaluation if you’re looking at a piece of jewellery that may be valuable.

5. Know the difference between vintage and antique jewellery

Before even considering a purchase, it’s important to know the difference between "antique" and "vintage" jewellery. It may not be a big deal when it comes to the look, but it does influence the insurance and resale value.

  • The jewellery industry agrees that an antique piece is at least 50 years old.
  • The value of jewellery depends not only on its age, but also its origins, rarity, condition, quality and maker’s stamp.
  • Vintage jewellery is a synonym for “pre-owned”; it may even be old but not meet the other conditions that constitute an antique.
  • Reproductions are latter-day attempts to copy the look of an antique, so be aware they exist.

6. Be sure the piece is authentic

Before you jump into a search for authentic antique jewellery, look at your budget.

  • Genuine antiques may not be for every budget; in fact, the rarer the object, the higher its value.
  • If your real motivation is to wear—or offer—a piece that represents a certain style, vintage jewellery or a reproduction may fit the bill for you.
  • A lot of reproductions look really old but are much more affordable.
  • If you’re set on looking for authenticity, it’s always best to have a piece evaluated by a reputable jeweller or jewellery appraiser before buying.

7. Find someone who can read the signs

  • Expert gemologists or antique jewellery dealers can evaluate and date a piece by analyzing its manufacturing techniques, the material used, the maker’s signature or stamp, and if the piece conforms to a typical region’s or period’s style.
  • They can also determine if it’s a recently-made fake or indeed even an old reproduction.

8. Beware of buying online

It entails some risk, but a lot of people like to browse and buy antique jewellery directly from e-auction or retail websites.

  • If possible, choose a local buyer you can meet in person and ask a qualified appraiser to examine the jewellery before you buy it.
  • You don’t want to pay for an antique and receive something that was “just born yesterday.”

If you're planning to invest in an expensive piece of jewellery, use these tips and trips to be sure you're getting what you pay for.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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