Vintage and Antique Fine Jewelry

Fine jewelry is defined as jewelry that contains precious metals and often a gemstone. The oldest known ring was discovered in tombs in Ur, and they date to about 4,000 years, while the oldest known necklace dates back over 110,000 years and the oldest known bracelet dates back more than 40,000 years. By comparison, many collectors choose pieces made within the last 150 years.

Does all vintage and antique jewelry have the same features?

The common characteristics of rings, earrings, necklaces, and other pieces varies based on the period when the piece was made. There are many different periods, including:

  • Victorian: lasted from about 1836 to 1981
  • Art Nouveau: lasted from about 1890 to 1910
  • Edwardian: lasted from about 1901 to 1920
What are some features of Victorian pieces?

Opals, garnets, amethysts, coral, turquoise, and diamonds were all gemstones used during the Victorian period. Often, diamonds were placed in the middle of engagement rings, and they were surrounded by other gemstones. Flowers, hearts, bows, and birds were motifs featured on Victorian necklaces and earrings. Intricate details were made from filigree.

What are some features of Art Nouveau fine jewelry pieces?

Opals, amber, citrines, moonstones, and peridots were often incorporated into jewelry pieces from this time period. Also, many pieces were created with materials like copper, horn, tortoise-shell, ivory, shells, and carved glass. Geometrical designs were featured late in the Art Nouveau period.

What are common features of Edwardian jewelry?

During the Edwardian period, jewelry was often created using platinum and diamonds to create filigree patterns resembling lace. Peridot is often surrounded by smaller diamonds, or a large center diamond is surrounded by pearls in wedding rings from this time. Many Edwardian pieces are extremely elaborate.

What are some common classifications of jewelry?

Most vintage and antique jewelry is classified by its age.

  • Antique: Pieces more than 100 years old are described as antiques.
  • Vintage: Pieces ranging in age from 100 to 20 years old are vintage.
  • Retro: These pieces were made in the 1940s and 1950s. Therefore, pieces can be both retro and vintage.
How do you select a piece of antique jewelry?
  • Select a period: The characteristics of different periods makes each one unique.
  • Select a set or individual piece: Both sets and individual pieces are available.
  • Select a type of jewelry: Rings, necklaces, earrings, and many other choices are available.
  • Select a size: Necklaces are available in many different lengths, while rings are available in many different styles.
  • Select an individual piece: After narrowing down your choices, choose the one that's most appealing to you.