Know Your Treasures – Vintage, Antique, and Estate Jewelry

May 8, 2019
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Estate jewelry is a term that has cropped up on our blog a few times in the past, and it is something we directly deal in. But it finds itself in a unique triangle of jewelry terms with vintage jewelry and antique jewelry. We want to discuss a bit more what makes these three different, where they do overlap and more, this time on the Stewart Kuper Jewelers blog!

Vintage, Antique, and Estate – Oh My!

Each of these three terms are used to indicate or identify older pieces of jewelry, though how old varies greatly. Think of it like a big three-way Venn diagram.

Estate Jewelry

An Example: Your sister’s engagement ring.

Any jewelry that is not totally new is estate jewelry. The term covers all second-hand jewelry, period. However, some jewelers will keep the estate jewelry tag on an item only for about ~30 years before moving it into one of the other categories.

Most often, estate jewelry is any piece that has been owned and sold back to a jeweler whether it was inherited from a deceased relative, or from a broken off engagement, the item has some recent history with someone. For some, the best estate jewelry has been well cared for and can be hardly differentiated from something fresh out the jeweler’s workshop. For others, it has the familiar and visible wear of a well-worn, long lived piece.

Vintage Jewelry

An Example: Your Grandmother’s wedding ring.

The next ‘oldest’ name for jewelry is vintage. After a piece is 30 years or so old, it can be considered vintage. It usually means it has a specific style to the piece that clearly marks it of its time. When shopping for jewelry, if you’re looking for something a bit older with more history you’ll have a lot of options when it comes to vintage jewelry. The time frame that falls into vintage (and not quite antique yet) covers a lot of periods where jewelry first saw production on a bigger scale.

Antique Jewelry

An Example: Your Great Great Grandmother’s wedding ring.

Antique jewelry is the oldest era of them all! Anything that is over 100 years old, give or take, is going to fall into this category. These are the pieces that have passed through a century plus worth of history and hands. Be careful if you see something that is ‘antique style’ as that signifies the ring is a more modern reproduction of a style of ring from another era. There’s nothing wrong with those kinds of rings, just that if your goal is for something historical, you’ll be disappointed.

You can see how all these terms can blend together and give the wrong impression, a fact that some disreputable jewelers take advantage of. Reputable jewelers like Stewart Kuper won’t. It is important to us that our customers get the exact piece they want, and we can even make it ourselves! That’s why we provide these blogs full of educational information to help our readers understand and find what they are looking for. We hope you have found the answers you’re seeking and we will see you next time here on the Stewart Kuper Jewelers Blog!