In jewelry terms, estate, vintage and antique jewelry have similar meanings but the differences can greatly influence the value of the piece at hand. Before you purchase a previously owned piece of jewelry, it’s important to know the differences.
Although estate jewelry connotes a piece that has been passed down from generations passed, it refers to any piece of jewelry that was previously owned, regardless of its age. It can be broken down into two types, vintage jewelry (less than 100 years) and antique jewelry (more than 100 years old.)
Vintage jewelry is jewelry that was created up to the point it is considered an antique. Today, vintage generally means a piece that was made after the 1920’s and includes the glamorous, Hollywood-inspired 1940’s “Retro Era” jewelry, the Jacqueline Kennedy inspired 60’s jewelry, the Modernist 70's jewelry, the dramatic and bold jewelry of the1980’s and even the re inspired vintage look of the 90's.
According to government guidelines, antiques are items that are at least 100 years old. Popular jewelry created in historic eras that are still commonly found in the U.S. through estate sales generally being in the rare Georgian Era (1714-1837), in which every piece was hand-crafted and therefore very valuable. The Victorian years provided jewelry fashion with three distinct eras that include Early Romantic Victorian (1837-1850), Grand Mid-Victorian (1860-1880) and Late Aesthetic Victorian (1885-1990). The simplified jewelry of the Arts & Crafts Movement (1894-1923) was a hand-made jewelry artisan’s rebellion to the Industrial Revolution, while at the same time Art Nouveau Jewelry (1895-1915) was popularized by the famous French jeweler LaLique. Edwardian Era-jewelry, named after Queen Victoria’s son, Edward was popular during 1901-1910, followed by the visually forward Art Deco Style (1920-1935.)
Since the cost of buying estate jewelry often costs much less than its original price when it was new, it can be an excellent choice if you’re considering buying gold and diamonds as investments. The most valuable pieces will be those fine jewelry pieces that are considered antiques and are still in excellent original condition.