By Michael Malakov
The mentality of “out with the old, in with the new” is not always the case when it comes to jewelry. Choosing your jewelry has always been a matter of preference and taste. Whether you like modern-looking jewelry or not, there is always a special place in people’s hearts about owning estate or vintage jewelry; it is a memorable piece of history and a sentimental value at your fingertips. These gorgeous pieces symbolize the development and growth of the craft of jewelry making and have shaped the current trends and jewelry we have today.
Why Buy Vintage Jewelry?
1. Value for Money
Everyone loves to save money. This is one of the most popular reasons people buy vintage or pre-owned jewelry; it gives good value for your money. This is especially true for contemporary pieces that are still in production today or pieces that we have an abundance of in the market. Estate jewelry has an advantageous price compared to buying the hefty price tag at retail. Since it is a pre-owned piece and has been previously worn or used, the price for it depreciates sometimes substantially. If you don’t mind a few scratches here and there to save money, then pre-owned jewelry is definitely for you. Plus, a lot of pre-owned pieces are actually still in pristine and excellent condition. Finding those pieces can really be a bargain!
2. Unique and One-Of-A-Kind
Jewelry has been in existence for centuries. Each era holds its own unique craftsmanship and signature design that caters to the taste and preference of a whole lot of people. With the absence of cutting-edge technology back in the day, each piece was intricately hand-made with old-world techniques and hundreds of hours. No piece looks and is made exactly the same. Some of these techniques are no longer being used and have shaped the way jewelers have been making jewelry today. The uniqueness and rarity also add to the value of vintage pieces overtime.
Unlike purchasing new and modern pieces today, you can tailor your ring to the most specific criteria possible. From carat weight, color, clarity, design, table ratio, millimeter size of the shank, etc., a reputable jeweler can work with you and custom-make a ring designed by you to the letter. With estate pieces, what you see is often what you get. You will need a whole lot of time going from website to website or store to store to look for a piece that really appeals to you. This is actually the thrill of vintage jewelry shopping. Some people attribute finding and purchasing estate jewelry as mementos of the experience finding that specific piece.
3. Exceptional Quality
Vintage jewelry shows exceptional quality due to the fact that they withstood the test of time. Jewelry is an investment that almost everyone develops an attachment to and takes really good care of. That is why most vintage jewelry are still in very good and wearable condition. You’ll be surprised at how pristine and well taken care of some very old pieces we have in our collection. Due to their high-quality standards and reputation, a lot of jewelers like Roman Malakov sell estate and fine jewelry that are durable and will last you many more generations to come (with the proper love and care of course).
4. History at Your Fingertips
As I said earlier, people develop certain attachments to jewelry because they symbolize special relationships and memorable experiences in their lives. Each antique piece has it’s own place in history and essentially, you are being part of that story. That is just something new jewelry just doesn’t have. They become symbols of previous eras and the craft they had during those times. If not for the preservation and value of pre-owned jewelry, the distinct and creative design of each era would not have been appreciated by today and future generations.
Buying Vintage Jewelry
1. Buy From a Reputable Jeweler
With technology nowadays, looking for a reputable jeweler is just an app or a click away. Check-out jewelers near your location; be sure to look at their reviews, policies, customer experiences (e.g. Yelp, Google reviews), knowledge, etc. Unfortunately, there are stores out there that intentionally or unintentionally, mislead their customers to buying inauthentic antique pieces. That is why it is incredibly important to do your due diligence on the seller when buying jewelry in general. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Make sure that they answer your questions with honesty and transparency. If you are buying vintage jewelry online, make sure the seller has multiple pictures of the piece and have a well-written description of the piece. If not, ask for more pictures or information. Jewelers will most likely send more pictures that show the condition of the item and be transparent with their customers. Trust is one of the foundations of jewelry buying.
2. Evaluate The Condition of The Item
Most jewelers do not restore or polish vintage jewelry to preserve the authenticity and antique feel of the pieces. Being a pre-owned piece that has been worn for years, it should show signs of wear (e.g. scratches, dents, etc.). Little signs of wear are ideal, but make sure to check that there are no cracks on the metal or chips on the stones. If it looks brand new, ask if it has been restored. If you are buying online, make sure you see multiple views of the piece and research about the jeweler’s return policy.
Jewelry makers in the past often sign their piece and leave marks of their initials or a small symbol. Be sure to check-out for that as it is a good sign of authenticity. This is especially true for pre-owned branded pieces such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Chopard, etc. These branded jewelry companies always mark and sign their piece. If you are buying branded pre-owned jewelry, ask if they have the original box and papers. If they have authenticity certificates, make sure the number on the certificates matches the number stamped on the piece.
3. Research & Price Check
Looks can be deceiving. That is why even doing just a little bit of research goes a long way. Research about diamond prices, what styles appeal to you, how much it usually costs, etc. You will not only be more confident with vintage jewelry shopping, but you will also take lesser time and find it much easier to shop store to store. The more information you have, the more likely you will get an authentic piece and negotiate for a reasonable price.
Since estate or vintage jewelry are one-of-a-kinds, be wary when they sell antique pieces in bulk. If a seller advertises that they have more than 1 of the exact same piece, tread carefully. They might have made antique-looking pieces and are not authentic antiques. Be especially conscious of their word usage; an example of this is “antique style” or “antique look.” These usually signify newly-made jewelry that has vintage designs.
Also, vintage jewelry has too much history and value in them to be sold cheaply. If you see an antique piece selling at a mind-blowing price (e.g. a 1-carat antique diamond ring for $20-$100), think twice. As I said earlier, without the technology we have now, it usually takes hundreds of hours for previous generation jewelers to handcraft and produces a stunning and one-of-a-kind piece. It takes precision, knowledge, and experience in the craft to create a piece that would last generations. This much work does not simply go for a couple of dollars (unless the seller is clueless). This is where research comes in. Cross-checking and validating the information and description on a piece (e.g. diamond/gemstone price, price of similar pieces, gold weight, size of stones, etc.) to find out its intrinsic value is essentially important to know it’s authenticity. If the price greatly deviates or varies from other similar pieces, have 2nd thoughts about it.
You can find and purchase antique and vintage jewelry almost everywhere; whether it be online or in brick-and-mortar stores. Buying smart is always the most important thing when buying jewelry (vintage or not). But if you are looking to buy authentic antiques, differentiating the real from the fakes will make sure that you are getting the right price for the right item. Research is key.
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