The popularity of vintage and estate jewelry has exploded among younger buyers within recent years. Why has old suddenly become such a new trend again? Join us on a journey as we explore vintage jewelry styles and the psyche behind those who can't seem to get enough of them.
Why Buy Vintage?
A beautiful piece of vintage jewelry comes with an air of mystique and fascination. It feels like something truly special when you realize you're holding a piece of history in your hands. Feelings of nostalgia play a big role when it comes to choosing the right vintage jewelry for yourself. Vintage items are reflections of the past. So, when you buy and wear them, you feel as if you're helping to preserve a moment in time.
Nowadays, more people want to stand out and show their individuality through their accessories. Since many vintage pieces are one-of-a-kind, they help you to express your own unique style. Niche has become the new norm in this digital age where buyers are always on the hunt for something special and more meaningful than typical mass-produced designs. This younger generation doesn't want to blend in. They want to stand out and be seen, which is just what an interesting piece of vintage jewelry can achieve.
What Is the Difference Between Vintage, Antique, and Estate Jewelry?
Jewelry must be at least 50 years old but less than 100 years old to be considered vintage. Jewelry of this age holds up well to use and pairs easily with fashionable outfits to create unique looks. Vintage jewelry is often used to add a bit of flair to a modern ensemble.
Antique jewelry, on the other hand, is 100 years old or older. These items show a superior level of craftsmanship from high-quality materials. Antique jewelry is as valuable as it is rare, and so it needs to be worn and handled with extra care.
Estate jewelry is simply a piece of jewelry that has had a previous owner. Age doesn't matter when it comes to classifying estate jewelry. However, you'll find vintage and antique estate jewelry more often than modern.
Is Replica Jewelry Vintage?
Replica jewelry isn't vintage, but it isn't fake jewelry either. This type of jewelry is made to look like an original piece from an earlier era, but all of its parts aren't from the same time period. Replicas often use the same or similar materials as the original, so they are still valuable but not as valuable as a vintage or antique piece. Some replicas contain stones or metal from vintage or antique jewelry and modern material too.
What Styles Are Considered Vintage Today?
Four distinct styles are vintage by today's standards. Art Deco is the oldest style and includes jewelry from 1920 to 1939. Bold streamlined designs dominated these decades of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. You can recognize Art Deco pieces by their emphasis on geometric shapes and gemstones. Popular styles from this era include long necklaces, stacked bracelets, vibrant rings, and double-clip brooches.
Retro is the next-oldest vintage style and covers the period from 1935 to 1950. It was a time of world war and recovery. Jewelry design shifted to softer colors and more feminine motifs, sometimes asymmetrical and whimsical. Rose and rose-yellow gold became the fashion as platinum was in short supply due to the war. Patriotic red, white, and blue jewelry rose in popularity, as did the use of semi-precious stones.
Mid-Century vintage pieces are from the 1950s and early 1960s. Diamonds became a girl's best friend again, with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor leading the way in fashion. Jewelry design at this time was abstract, free-form, or floral. Platinum became available post-war, and pavé diamonds were all the rage. Yellow gold, brooches, and cocktail rings are popular mid-century pieces too.
The final vintage style is the Sixties. Jewelry from this era reflects pop art and the hippie lifestyle. Fine gems and large diamonds became less popular as people started to prefer more colorful and unique stones. Onyx, turquoise, tiger-eye, lapis, and malachite were the hits of the '60s as was yellow gold. Most vintage pieces from the mid-to-late 1960s are geometrical or asymmetrical works of art.
Where Is the Best Place to Buy Vintage and Estate Jewelry?
A jeweler that deals with vintage pieces is a secure place to purchase this type of jewelry. We are the experts, so we can examine and validate the jewelry's age and quality for you. Professional jewelers will be able to explain the history behind the piece and give you directions on how to best care for it. You can shop online for vintage and estate jewelry or visit us in the store to see our collection firsthand.
How Should I Care for My Vintage Jewelry?
Vintage jewelry should undergo professional cleaning, polishing, and inspection at least every six months to keep it in excellent condition. You can rely on your trusty neighborhood jeweler to do this job for you. There are some things, though, that you can do on a regular basis to help keep your jewelry cleaner and less prone to damage.
A good rule of thumb is to get ready for the day and then put your jewelry on last. Beauty products, lotions, and perfumes lead to build-up and dullness. If you're going to do household chores, yard work, or other hands-on projects, then it's best to remove your jewelry before doing so to protect it from harsh cleaners or damage. It's also very important to store your jewelry properly. A cool and dry felt-lined space is the best place to keep vintage jewelry. Always keep your pieces separate, including hanging up your necklaces, to prevent scratches.
When you're in the market for vintage jewelry, stop by often to see what new old pieces we've added to our collection. Vintage items offer such a fantastic variety of colors, designs, and styles. To find the piece that works best for you, simply buy what you love at first sight. Trust us — you'll know it when you feel it.
Image via Flickr by Tessa Sheremeta