Vintage is such a loosely used term these days that the actual meaning has become ambiguous. To set the record straight, the vintage era is generally considered to be the years between 1910 – 1990. So, any piece that originated in these years can be classified as vintage. Anything before that is generally qualified to be an antique. Yes, antique and vintage are two different terms that are often mistakenly used interchangeably.
Whether you’re buying it for use or are beginning to cultivate a collection, it is of utmost importance that the pieces you purchase are authentic and of sound quality. In this section, we will explain the things you need to watch out for when you’re shopping for vintage jewelry.
As mentioned above, the years between 1910 and 1990 are considered to be the vintage era. If you’re looking for more popular pieces, it would be wise to look for something that was made between the years 1940 and 1970. This was considered the booming period for jewelry―design, pattern, and workmanship-wise.
Word to the Wise: Pieces with rhinestones in the Aurora Borealis finish (a rainbow effect inspired by the Northern Lights) didn’t appear till the 1950s, so if a seller says the piece originated before that and uses it as an excuse to quote a higher price, he’s probably lying.
Know where it comes from
Provenience is the term used to define the traceability of a piece of jewelry. It consists of details about the piece’s origin, history, background, and the previous owners of the piece. While all of this may not always be traceable, an authentic piece worth its price will have at least some verifiable heritage.
Word to the Wise: The seller can claim that he does not have any written record of the piece. You can always ask him how he came upon the piece and ask for contact details to verify for yourself if the piece is worth it.
What we’re trying to say is that just because a piece is vintage, a seller may try to sell a damaged piece for a huge sum. This is when you have to make a judgment call. How bad does the piece look? If it has, say, a lot of stones missing, rethink your decision to buy it. Some sellers might try to sell a piece that has been badly repaired. For instance, stones and beads might have been glued back into the setting. This is one of the worst ways to deface vintage jewelry and speaks a lot about the knowledge of the seller.