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What is Antique, Vintage and Estate Jewelry?
The terms antique, vintage, and estate are used to help date older pieces of fine jewelry. So what makes a piece of jewelry antique? This is one of the most common questions in the antique jewelry industry and the answer would vary from how we would classify cars or houses. All jewelry that is not brand-new is technically considered estate, but not all estate jewelry is considered vintage. Just like all antique jewelry is considered vintage, yet not all vintage jewelry is considered antique. Confusing? It can be.
Do remember that sometimes the use of terms vintage or estate can be misleading so it is important to understand how reputable dealers use these terms and how unreliable dealers use them so you can avoid accidentally buying a reproduction. For instance, it would make sense to call a 300-year-old cameo and estate cameo even though it technically is.
Instead a reliable dealer would only use the words antique cameo to avoid any confusion. An unreliable dealer might call a brand-new reproduction cameo that looks very much like the 300-year-old cameo and estate cameo to make the uneducated customer believe the cameo is much older than it actually is.
Estate jewelry is any piece of jewelry that is secondhand. This jewelry can be considered either antique, vintage or estate. Maybe you got engaged four years ago with a brand-new diamond ring, but you called off the wedding. Last week you finally sold the piece to a jeweler (read the article - Jewelers). The jeweler would classify this ring as estate. Instead of describing every single piece of used jewelry as estate, dealers generally limit this term to jewelry that was made within the last 30 years. Anytime this term is used to describe a piece of jewelry that may look like it's much older than it is, inquire to verify the exact age with the seller. Sometimes the use of the term estate can be a reproduction indicator as mentioned above. It's safe to assume that whenever a dealer says estate without any other mention to the items age, that piece of jewelry is not very old at all.
For a fine piece of jewelry to be considered vintage, it has to be at least 20 to 30 years old, so anything from the 1980s and earlier. Vintage is probably the most common term of the three since it encompasses a large collection of jewelry ages. Would an engagement ring from the 1800s be considered vintage? Technically speaking, yes. Instead of classifying the ring as vintage, most dealers would call the ring antique so they can highlight just how old the ring is.
Antique jewelry is any piece of jewelry that is about 100 years old or older. Many pieces from the 1920s are now considered antique, especially those made in the earlier part of the decade. When an item is called antique by a reliable dealer, you can rest assured that the heirloom is very old. Beware of any term antique style, which is another reproduction indicator. Anytime the word style is used and there is no other mention of the items age most likely means the item is a reproduction.
Art Deco, Edwardian, Belle Epoque, Art Nouveau, Victorian, Georgian are all terms that describe the dating of an heirloom piece of jewelry. This is the era or. That the piece has become attributed to.