“Estate Jewelry” is simply jewelry that was pre-owned by another person. Estate is often used to describe finer high end pieces, but the term estate can be used with any quality.
“Antique Jewelry” is simply jewelry that is more than 100 years old. This does not mean that just because your 100 year old grandma owned the piece, that the jewelry is 100 years old and antique.
“Vintage Jewelry” refers to pieces from a certain jewelry era. For example, “Victorian jewelry” (1835-1890), “Art Deco jewelry” (1915-1935), or “Retro jewelry” (1940-1945). Craftsmen from each jewelry era used unique materials and skills available to depict the tastes and styles that were vogue at the time.
1. Authentic vintage jewlery was generally made by craftsmen that had extraordinary skills and invested unlimited hours to produce uniqueness and quality not readily available today.
2. Man cannot make antique and vintage jewelry today but man can make antique and vintage reproductions (repros’s). Often good repro’s are even made with gemstones that are cut to look like they were cut long ago. Repro’s do not have the quality nor value of authentic pieces. When buying, beware of words like “style” or “type”. “Art Deco style” does not mean “Art Deco”.
3. Do not polish, clean or repair valuable antique/vintage jewelry without consulting an expert.
4. When getting antique/vintage jewelry appraised, go to a jeweler that understands and proudly displays similar pieces. Vintage jewelery that is old, beautiful, and in pristine condition is very rare and valuable.
Owning and wearing antique and vintage jewelry is owning and wearing a piece of history and artwork. This is especially true and meaningful when you are wearing a family heirloom.