What to Know About Buying Vintage Jewelry

There's a certain degree of difficulty in buying vintage jewelry. The most obvious question that should come to mind when you're considering such a purchase is this: How do you know it's authentic? Isn't it possible that an unscrupulous seller could take any diamond ring, scratch it up a little, and say it's vintage? Even worse, couldn't someone looking to make a quick buck pass off a piece of glass costume jewelry as the real thing?

Yes, quite sadly, these things are not only absolutely possible, they do happen. The good news is, the honest, ethical vintage jewelry sellers outnumber the dishonest ones. Still, when you consider buying vintage jewelry, there are a few things you can do to make sure you're getting the real thing.

Buy From Reliable Sellers

Well, of course. But how do you tell the reliable sellers from the ones trying to separate you from your money by offering fake jewelry?

The first thing to do is consider where you're buying from. Is it an ad on an online classifieds list? Maybe it's the real deal, but how can you verify it? Your best bet is to stick with sellers who are actually running a business, and who display knowledge of vintage jewelry.

In addition, look for external indications of the seller's reliability through reviews and testimonials. If others have had good experiences with the seller, it's likely you will, too.

Look for Disclosures

We don't mean boilerplate legal jargon. We mean disclosures about the vintage jewelry itself. Remember, we're talking about jewelry that has been around for decades, possibly more than a century. It's not going to be in brand-new condition. The thing is, you don't want it to be. Part of the charm of vintage jewelry is the soft patina the metal takes on, and the small dents that show it's been worn and loved, not just sitting in a jewelry box decade after decade.

But while someone may be trying to sell a vintage piece of jewelry, they may not realize those flaws are desirable, and may try to gloss over any indications of wear. A reputable seller will disclose what's going on with a piece. For example, this late Edwardian engagement ring in our collection has a small chip on the girdle. You'll find that information right there in the description. When a seller tells you the truth about a piece, you know you're in the right place.

Look for Jeweler's Marks

It's not as common today with mass-produced jewelry, but vintage and antique pieces will often have a maker's mark on them. Just like an artist signing a painting, jewelers who spent hours crafting beautiful pieces by hand would often leave a mark in an inconspicuous spot.

It wasn't always small jewelers who made things by hand, though. You'll see the Cartier name stamped on some of their most famous pieces. And this Edwardian necklace is stamped with a Krementz mark, speaking not only to its authenticity, but the time period from which it came.

Request an Appraisal

If you've looked at all these factors, and you're still not quite sure what you're getting, or you just want to have the value in writing for insurance purposes, you can always request an appraisal. A reputable seller will offer appraisals from outside, unbiased sources who have the proper credentials to appraise jewelry.

Peruse our diverse collection of classic vintage jewelry, and find the perfect piece to suit your idea of vintage style.

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