The most important things to look for when buying vintage jewellery

Buying vintage jewellery is fun and sustainable - wearing it reflects your personality!

Before buying, familiarise yourself with the jewellery by going to auctions, antique or vintage fairs. Research books, for example, Miller's Costume Jewellery, Vivienne Becker's Fabulous Costume Jewellery and Carol Tanenbaum's Fabulous Fakes. All highly recommended. Ask questions. Dealers at vintage fairs or auctioneers are happy to answer. They are a wealth of information and love sharing their expertise. You can learn so much this way.

Buy what you love. Stick to a certain period of time and style or buy what ever takes your fancy. You may go for floral themes such as leaves or flowers, or sentimental and romantic pieces that evoke the Edwardian period. It could be from the Art Nouveau movement or the 50's through to 2000's. True vintage should be 20 years old. Hard to believe that items from 2004 are considered vintage now!

Consider Susan's 3C's when buying vintage jewellery:
  • Credibility
  • Craftsmanship
  • Condition

Does it have the correct stampings or logo if a designer piece? Are they well defined and clear?  The high quality materials used were often gold plated, sometimes even triple plated. The crystals used were Austrian, most from Swarovski. Another important tell tale sign is the weight. The materials used in vintage jewellery were of a higher quality than those used today, resulting in each piece feeling more substantial than today's.

Designer vintage jewellery is impeccably made with a quality that is unmatched. The soldering should be smooth with no unfinished joints. Crystals should sit securely and be well positioned while clasps and links should be strong and work well. Faux pearls should have a luminous finish. Quality ones were manufactured with glass - Swarovski producing the finest.

Condition is important when buying. Check for repairs. Crystals should be original and not replaced unless with the original quality. There should be no soldering repairs - very rarely do they last.

If your piece ticks all our 3C's, Susan says: "Go ahead and buy it!".