How to Buy Vintage and Antique jewellery
Buying and collecting vintage and antique jewellery is easier than ever thanks to online retail. We speak to the experts to find out how to buy online and why good style never fades.
Investing in vintage and antique jewellery isn’t so unattainable. It may seem like a daunting pursuit, reserved only for rich housewives with jewellery vaults and platinum credit cards. However it’s more accessible than you may think. Starting your own collection will mark an evolution in your unique style story. No matter which era, or designer you favour, no one can wear your pieces like you can. Not only that but authentic pieces keep their value too, it will never go out of style. Which means, money in the bank!
Whats the difference between Antique and Vintage Jewellery?
Lets start with the basics. We asked Vivienne and Joanna, curators and Founding members of Omnēque what makes an antique? “Generally speaking, ‘antique’ jewellery is anything over 100 years old. However vintage jewellery is a little more ambiguous and can encompass anything from the early 2000s – 1930s,” they told us. This is good news for Art Deco lovers. Isobel Proctor is the founder of Pi London, an online retailer aiming to make vintage jewellery more accessible to consumers. She told us that, “with it being the year 2021, Art Deco pieces from 1920 officially became antiques.”
Buying Vintage Jewellery Online
Retailers like Omnēque and Pi London are helping to make expertly curated collections of vintage and antique jewellery accessible online. We spoke to the founders to get the low down on how and why you should shop for vintage pieces. Omneque assured us that, “with our personal curations, recommendations and advice; we aim to enrich the jewellery-buying experience through background knowledge, historical and cultural colour.” Whether you favour 80’s clip on earrings, an antique diamond ring, an art deco necklace or brooch, their tips will help you to enjoy your experience as a vintage jewellery collector. The aim is to browse slowly, and not to rush a decision. It’s the very antithesis of modern day shopping, an experience that should be celebrated and enjoyed.
5 Tips For Buying Vintage and Antique Jewellery
Do Your Research
Browse and get a sense for your style. Start by creating some pinterest boards and make a note of eras, styles and designers that pique your fancy. Visit sales, auctions and museums to broaden your horizons. “Handle as much as you can from a range of different eras and different styles. Don’t limit yourself to what you think you like and have an open mind,” advise Vivienne and Joanna, Founding members of Omnēque.
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Use Trusted Dealers, Fairs and Platforms
This is theoretically the deal breaker. “We always like to go to people that we trust, whether that is someone you have a relationship with or someone who has been recommended to you,” Isobel told us. “It’s easier said than done but it really does help put your mind at rest if you know you’re in safe hands.” Check trade publications and sign up for emails to get the latest information about fairs and sales. Get chatting to people, let them know what your looking for and they may be able to recommend other places to hunt.
Check The Condition of the Piece
Again there is no need to panic at this stage as long as you stick to the basics. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about where the retailer found the piece. If they are reputable, they will be happy to give you as much detail as you need. If possible, look at things in person. Otherwise ask for lots of pictures of the piece, it’s packaging and details, details, details. Check for tarnishing and loose stones. Do the clips work, do hinges function correctly etc. Again don’t be afraid to ask questions if something doesn’t look right. But ultimately, if your gut tells you it’s not worth it then don’t reach for your wallet. If you are a beginner, stick to pieces with signatures (the name of the designer printed on the jewellery) to ensure you aren’t buying a fake. Some pieces are still important even without a signature but you could risk buying something faux for too much money.
Give Everything a Clean
Even when we aren’t experiencing a pandemic, hygiene is key. A good seller will always take care of this for you. However if you have found a gem at a clearance or car boot sale, it may need a little more love. First, identify the metals and stones that are used. If in doubt, seek advice from a jeweller. Use warm soapy water and a fine, soft toothbrush to clean your pieces. Use antiseptic wipes for earring backs. If your piece contains rhinestones however, try a jewellery cleaning cloth or a little white vinegar on a cotton bud. Do not use water.
Buy jewellery you really love
Our experts universally agree that you should only buy what you love and will wear. Vivienne and Joanna at Omneque advise against trend led purchases. “You should feel an emotional connection to the piece you are handling,” they told us. “Styles of jewellery always come in and out of fashion and so we would always recommend going with pieces that personally speak to you.” Isobel at Pi London agrees. “I think what’s really exciting is that people appear to want something that no one else has these days. They want something that is one of a kind and that has a special story behind it, something you just can’t get when you buy new from a well-known brand.”
Image: Beyoncé Wears Pi London for British Vogue
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