Lately, it seems like everything and the kitchen sink is declared “vintage” or “antique.” Both these terms signify something old, but what is vintage jewelry really and how is it different from antique pieces? Does it mean your mother’s necklaces from when she was a young woman or is it just another buzzword?
To help you set your feet on firmer ground, here is a short and sweet guide on what is vintage and what is old antique jewelry:
What is an antique?
To put it plainly, an antique is a piece of jewelry older than 100 years. That means that all that flapper-girl beads from the 1920s are much closer to being antiques than vintage jewelry! However, don’t be surprised if a European scoffs at the idea of 100 years – overseas, many dealers simply don’t consider a century-old enough for a piece to be considered antique.
Most commonly, this kind of jewelry is made from higher-quality materials and a very high level of craftsmanship. Its age, beauty, rarity and even historical and emotional connections affect its value – needless to say, today you can find many antiques in museums and private collections!
These pieces are not very suitable for wearing often or for a longer period of time. Firstly, because of its age, and then because of its enormous value.
What is vintage?
The term vintage is a bit harder to pin down. Some say it’s anything 20 years or older, others claim anything younger than 50 cannot possibly be vintage. One exception to this rule can be Art Deco and Mid-century pieces – despite being almost of age for antiques, they’re often classified as vintage pieces by dealers.
But the most important thing is that, unlike antiques, vintage pieces can be worn freely, without fear of damage.
Since fashion is cyclical, vintage jewelry will always be on-trend! It’s easy to incorporate into your own style, and their special designs can be real show stoppers! So, your mother’s diamond necklace or sapphire ring is a perfect example of true vintage jewelry.
When researching that perfect vintage piece, remember that it cannot be made! If a piece is described as “vintage style” or “vintage-inspired” what it means is that it’s new – by definition, it cannot be really vintage. If your jewelry is made of components of a vintage piece, this also means the piece itself is not vintage.
Vintage vs Antique
The difference between vintage and antique are pretty clear – the former is older than 20 years, the latter is at least 100 years old. Both vintage and antique mean that the pieces are not made, but rather “found” – they are old jewelry that has not been modified or remade recently. Antiques are more precious, delicate and rare, but vintage pieces can be worn freely and elevate your style to another level.
When it comes to deciding which is better – vintage or antique – there’s really no clear winner. While antiques are rife with historical meaning, they are fragile and often too valuable to be worn. You might find antique pieces absolutely gorgeous, but unsuitable to today’s fashion trends.
If you’re looking for a unique, precious piece of jewelry you can wear any time you’d like, you might want to go with vintage jewelry. If, on the other hand, you’d like an investment that closer to art than it is to wearable jewelry, antiques are your best bet.
Another way to reap all the rewards of the uniqueness of vintage and antique style is to look for vintage or antique-inspired pieces! You can check out some of our traditional and vintage-inspired jewelry at our Coral Gables Jewelry store. If you have a vintage piece you’d like repaired, contact us and you’ll be the talk of the town in no time!