Estate, Vintage, and Antique Jewelry: Is There a Difference?

August 4, 2017 By swj-eric

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In the world of fine jewelry, we hear a lot of terms thrown around loosely; estate jewelry, vintage jewelry, and antique jewelry are at the top of that list.

But few know the difference between the three.

This can pose problems when it comes to determining the value of your jewelry, as the differences between terms can greatly impact its worth.

So, let’s find out if your old piece of jewelry is, in fact, vintage or an antique.

Estate Jewelry: Not Just a Family Heirloom, After All

Believe it or not, “estate jewelry” is an umbrella term that refers to any previously owned piece of jewelry—regardless of its origins or age.

In turn, estate jewelry can be broken into two categories:

  1. Vintage  
  2. Antique

Vintage Jewelry

Often, “vintage” brings retro-era, Hollywood glam, and ‘60s flair styles to mind—and for good reason.

Technically, vintage jewelry is defined as pieces that are less than 100 years old. In other words, jewelry made after the 1920s are considered vintage.

Antique Jewelry

It turns out the hobby of “antiquing” has stricter guidelines than most of us thought. According to government guidelines, a piece of jewelry is only an antique if it is over 100 years old.

Common antique jewelry comes from the Georgian era (when every piece was handmade) and the Victorian years—from the Early Romantic Victorian years in 1837, to the Late Aesthetic Victorian era, ending in 1890.

Vintage and Antique Jewelry Appraisals: Determining the Value of Your Piece

You may be wondering how much your estate jewelry is worth—or if it is even considered vintage or antique.

If this is the case, perhaps it’s time to consider an appraisal.

Now, appraisals protect you in the event of theft, loss, or damage of your jewelry. Antique and vintage appraisals represent the opinion of the appraiser, and can often vary dramatically.

Technology has made it easy to get an overview of your piece, especially in the areas of stone identification and interpreting jeweler’s or stamp marks (found on the inside or backside portions of jewelry).

But, free online appraisals can be untrustworthy and risky.

Pieces with great value are best handled in-person by reputable, qualified gem and fine jewelry dealers. Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certification and a good reputation with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) will protect your estate pieces.

Vintage and Antique Appraisals from Southwest Jewelry Buyers

As there are no government guidelines, state laws, or other rules for appraising jewelry, it is difficult to provide a true cash value of your item based on a retail appraisal.

At Southwest Jewelry Buyers, we pride ourselves in helping our customers determine all they need to know about their estate jewelry. We provide free on-the-spot appraisals with no obligation from our GIA-certified gemologists.

We also have an A+ BBB rating, stellar customer testimonials, and a 5-Star Yelp! Rating to boot.

Should you choose to sell your estate jewelry, Southwest Jewelry Buyers will pay you the actual value of your diamond or jewelry items based on our own strict evaluation.

Contact us today.