There’s huge demand for buying antique jewellery, whether it’s at auction, online or in person. But new collectors can be hesitant to get started out of fear of buying the wrong item or parting with too much cash for a piece. The purchase of antique jewellery is incredibly personal – you’re not just purchasing an item of jewellery, but also a part of history, so you want to be sure you’re getting it right. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a guide to help you get started.
Know the historical period you’re interested in
Knowing your personal style and the periods in history that most appeal to you can help you to narrow down your search.
Georgian and Regency
If you’re a fan of Jane Austin and love the style of characters from films and books such as Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, look for a piece of Georgian or Regency jewellery. Jewellery from this period in history is delicate, refined and elegant, often with floral themes such as flowers, wreaths and vines. You’ll also find that Georgian and Regency jewellery has rope decorations and engravings, as well as gem-set crosses. It’s perfect for people who enjoy feminine pieces and want something delicate and sentimental. An item of jewellery from this period will date from 1714-1830.
If you’re passionate about all things Victorian, 19th century jewellery will be ideal for you. This period ranges from the Romantic to the Revivalist, and it draws many influences from Renaissance style necklaces to bracelets with Assyrian decoration or Japanese-inspired pieces. Victorian jewellery often has nature themes, such as birds and insects, or flowers. You’ll also find pieces in darker colours with large gems set within it, such as pendants with garnet, black onyx or amethysts. Victorian pieces can be very dramatic and certainly make an impact, from brooches and pendants to engagement rings and bracelets.
Jewellery from the 1920s will have an Art Deco design and feature influences from the French rococo. If you’re a fan of the Downton Abbey TV series, or The Great Gatsby, you’ll no doubt be familiar with this style of jewellery. The new ‘Jazz Age’ featured a lot of drama and colour, with clean geometric patterns and stone-set jewellery, and have a contemporary feel since many Art Deco designs served as the foundation for modern pieces that we wear today. With this style of jewellery, you’re likely to find carved gemstones, sunburst motifs, architectural-style jewels and items inspired by Egyptian, Persian and Chinese jewellery and art.
While there are many people who collect antique jewellery purely to build a beautiful collection of historic pieces, for the most part, people buy antique jewellery to wear it and because it brings them immense joy. So when you’re searching for an item, consider how you’ll wear it and the outfits that you will want to wear it with. Maybe you want a piece that will be worn occasionally for special events, or maybe you want to be able to wear it every day in which case you’ll want a durable item that can withstand wear and tear. A vintage engagement ring, for example, needs to be long-lasting and hardworking for you to be able to wear it every day in your busy life.
Check your sources
It’s all too easy for people to pass off an old item of jewellery as an antique or to sell a reproduction, but you want to be sure you’re buying something that’s authentic and genuinely from the period it’s being sold as. It can take a long time to build up the knowledge you need to be able to spot an authentic antique, so unless you’ve done that research yourself and feel confident that you know what to look for, it can save you a lot of time and wasted money by working with a trusted source.
Question what you find
There are so many details that make up an item of jewellery, from the metals used to the purity of the gold, the quality and clarity of the gemstones, and the measurements – not to mention the age and size of the piece. It’s important to ask questions about all of these details when you’re buying a piece, so you can be sure that it’s not only what you’re looking for but that it’s worth the price being asked for it. You’re likely to have a budget in mind when you’re shopping for antique jewellery, so asking questions will help you get the best value for an item, and will help you build a collection you’re proud of.
Only buy what you love
The last tip may seem obvious, but it’s easy to lose sight of it when you’re faced with myriad options. It can be overwhelming to shop for antique pieces, as they’re often much more of an investment than modern, off the shelf jewellery and fast fashion items. But keep in mind that this jewellery collection is for you and that you’ll be the person wearing it and staring at it every day, so make sure you’re investing in the items that you truly love and that work with your style and tastes.
Antique jewellery and vintage pieces are an enjoyable way to enhance your jewellery collection and build something that’s really unique and personal to you. Whether you’re buying for yourself or a loved one, antique jewellery has a story to tell and is a literal piece of history that you get to wear. It’s a safe investment that typically holds its value when you choose wisely, and it is something that many of us will have a personal connection to.
At Cry for the Moon, we always have a beautiful selection of authentic antique and vintage jewellery in stock. Browse our collection online or visit us in store. If you have any questions, please contact us and a member of the team will be happy to help.