Vintage vs Estate vs Antique: Definitions
If you’re new to the jewelry world or have been part of it for some time, these three terms can get confusing. Unfortunately, some jewelers will use this to their advantage. Here are the differences between each term.
Estate jewelry refers to any pre-owned piece of jewelry. People sometimes assume that “estate” only means that it came from an estate sale. This isn’t always the case. Any used piece of jewelry qualifies as estate jewelry no matter its age. Both vintage and antique jewelry fall into this category.
Pieces that are 100 years or older fall into this type. Antique jewelry tends to be anything made before the Edwardian Period (1901-1920). However today, some pieces from the 1920’s are beginning to fall into the Antique category. Since it is so valuable, this type of jewelry is hardly worn and often just for display purposes.
Jewelry pieces must be iconic of their period to be considered vintage jewelry. Most pieces are 20-30 years old, dating back to the Art Deco period. Or anything after the 1930s. Vintage jewelry still pairs well with current styles. They give any wardrobe a fancy, contrasting look. Although the pieces are old, they are still sturdy enough for wearing out on a fun night.
Types of Vintage Jewelry
Estate jewelry from this era features floral-inspired looks. Yellow gold and silver are common metals.
Gemstones added flare to pieces until the discovery of diamond. You’ll often find gold lockets from the Victorian Era in vintage jewelry collections.
Victorian Era jewelry features decorative and elaborate pieces. Most people imagine large brooches. But this era also had sparkling necklaces. Pieces from this period reflect the romantic life of Queen Victoria.
Jewelsmiths drew inspiration from the lavish gifts presented to Her Majesty by various suitors. They provided a way for the simple folk to live like royalty.
Repoussé became a common metalworking technique. It called for hammering metal into delicate patterns and designs.
Cameos remain one of the most popular Victorian Era jewelry designs. The pieces feature faces of women carved into coral, shells, or lava stone.
The Art Nouveau period lasted from the beginning of the 20th century to the start of WWI. It originated in France and most pieces are from France.
Although short-lived, it produced prized pieces. The vintage jewelry from this era features simple curves and soft lines.
These pieces take inspiration from the feminine form.
In fact, most Art Nouveau pieces are women-centric. Women in France took center-stage during this period.
They fought for their rights and many feared what might happen should they take power.
Cameos are also found in pieces from the Nouveau Era. Unlike the Victorian Era, however, these pieces are far more elaborate.
The pieces were meant to stand out and shock people.
Art Nouveau pieces used yellow gold, moonstones, pearls, and opals. Unusual materials like horn and ivory saw use as well.
Art Deco estate jewelry highlights the modern age. Pieces have strict geometry.
The designs are simple and symmetrical. Looking at these pieces often reminds one of the Jazz eras. You’ll find bright colors and sleek designs in this style.
People wanted something new and exciting for jewelry. Art Deco provided that.
These pieces spoke loudly of fun and fancy. Just what you’d expect for vintage jewelry from the Roaring Twenties.
Vintage jewelry from the Art Deco era features turquoise, jade, lapis lazuli, and other bright gems. Silver was a common metal used for these pieces as it was cheaper to get.