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What's the Difference Between Antique, Vintage, and Estate Jewelry?

The differences between estate, vintage, and antique jewelry is a matter of age, and knowing these terms can help you shop smarter. Read on brush up your knowledge on these three types of jewelry!

What's the Difference Between Antique, Vintage, and Estate Jewelry?

For some jewelry buyers, navigating their way around terms like estate, vintage, and antique jewelry can be daunting. These terms are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably by consumers and jewelers alike.

Shoppers often wonder about the difference between a vintage engagement ring and an antique engagement ring, or between an estate piece and a vintage one.

Estate jewelry can include a brand new wedding band, but it’s definitely not vintage or antique. Sound complicated? Learn more about the subtle differences between estate, vintage, and antique jewelry with this quick explainer.

Estate Jewelry

Contrary to popular belief, estate jewelry isn’t strictly owned by a deceased owner. Estate jewelry can be newly bought or owned for 100 or more years. In fact, any used piece of jewelry is considered an estate piece. For example, a three-year-old diamond necklace can be considered estate. Whether the necklace is slightly used or heavily worn doesn’t change the fact that it’s an estate necklace.

Vintage Jewelry

If estate jewelry is taken care of, it can eventually turn into a vintage piece. Vintage jewelry can refer to pieces that are between 20 and 100 years old. Think of vintage jewelry eras like Art Deco or Retro jewelry. Jewelry during these eras was made during the heyday and start of mass production in the industry, making them more accessible to the low and high class.

Vintage jewelry can be worn with contemporary pieces due to their wide availability and interesting designs. But keep this in mind: Modern necklaces, bracelets, and rings may infuse elements of vintage designs into their contemporary pieces to create a balance of classic and new, but these are not considered vintage pieces.

Antique Jewelry

Antique jewelry is much less accessible to most jewelry consumers. These pieces are typically over 100 years old or more. Most are made from the highest-quality materials compared to many newer accessories.

A jewelry piece doesn’t start off as an antique. After many decades, some antique jewelry can increase in value due to their rarity or quality of materials. At a certain point, an antique piece can gain so much value that it may be impractical to wear or showcase in public.

However, don’t confuse antique-style reproductions for actual antique jewelry. “Antique-style” pieces refer to reproductions of heirloom-quality necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, and watches.

Buying Estate, Vintage, and Antique Jewelry

Reputable jewelers will ensure that you know the difference between estate, vintage, and antique jewelry. They won’t try to trick you into thinking that a reproduction is the real thing.

For example, a jeweler won’t classify a 100-year-old diamond necklace as an estate piece, even though it is technically considered an estate necklace. Jewelry dealers are usually transparent with the age of their inventory.

Estate Jewelry at Medawar Jewelers

Protect Your Estate, Vintage, and Antique Jewelry

Estate, vintage, and antique jewelry are beautiful and meaningful to any owner. In order to keep your investment safe and prevent a drastic reduction in value, consider getting your estate, vintage, or antique piece serviced and repaired. Look for a jeweler that has decades of experience fixing jewelry and timepieces of all types and ages.

Jewelry repair services can include ring resizing, chain repair, clasp replacement, or pearl restringing. Protect that decades-old diamond ring with regular cleaning and repair to maintain as much of its value as possible or more.

Learn More at Medawar Jewelers

Avoid getting ripped off by dealers that won’t educate customers just to make an extra buck. Stop by any of our five showrooms in Michigan to get your vintage or antique accessories up to snuff. We offer antique and vintage jewelry restoration services for customers that want to extend the life of their jewelry and keep it in their families. Stop by any of our showrooms today!

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