The world of antique and vintage jewelry can be confusing, especially when it comes to terms like "antique," "vintage," "estate," and "period." Let's shed some light on their actual meanings to help you navigate through the maze of jewelry jargon!
Legally, antique refers to items over 100 years old for import and export tax purposes, often exempt from duties. But lately, the term "vintage" has encroached on antique territory, leading to some ambiguity.
Originally borrowed from the wine industry, the term "vintage" has made its way into the fine antique jewelry realm. Jewelry once deemed "antique" is now frequently labeled as "vintage," possibly due to its trendier appeal. While this shift may sound fashionable, the lack of a precise definition can be perplexing. At Erstwhile, we consider engagement rings from the 1920s to the 1970s as vintage.
Estate jewelry is fairly straightforward - it encompasses any pre-owned jewelry from any time period.
Defining "period" can be subjective, as it highlights a distinctive era with characteristic design elements. A ring, for instance, could be considered a period piece if it showcases clear design characteristics emblematic of a specific period, such as the iconic Art Deco era with its balanced, hard masculine geometric lines.
Beware of Tricky Sales Tactics
These terms have been loosely interchanged, but "estate" requires particular attention. Some may use it to describe a reproduction Art Deco ring that's been worn for a few years, misleading buyers into thinking it's antique. Another misleading tactic involves describing brand new reproductions as "in the manner of Art Deco" or "in the style of Art Deco."
Ask Questions and Choose Trusted Jewelers
To avoid confusion, ask plenty of questions, and work with a jeweler you trust. If the jeweler lacks knowledge, the answers may lead you astray. Ensure you're shopping for authentic antique and vintage jewelry by collaborating with a reliable and reputable jeweler. Let clarity guide you in your journey through the world of antique and vintage jewelry, making your experience both enjoyable and authentic.