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What is Estate Jewelry? The Difference between Estate, Vintage, and Antique Jewelry

You may be wondering, “So what exactly is estate jewelry?” Keep reading to learn the difference between estate, antique, and vintage jewelry pieces so you’re better equipped to identify the real deal in the future.

What is Estate Jewelry? The Difference between Estate, Vintage, and Antique Jewelry

As a retailer that deals extensively with vintage, antique, and estate jewelry, a question we get a lot about our offerings is “What’s the difference between these jewelry types?”

Today, we’ll go over each of these distinct categories to help you identify them more easily while you’re out and about at your local estate sale or trunk show.

Estate Jewelry

Estate jewelry is classified by any kind of jewelry that has had a previous owner; the term “estate” comes from the fact that many of these pieces have changed owners in an estate sale. However, a piece of jewelry’s classification as an estate piece is not dependent on whether or not the owner is still alive.

Similarly, the age of an accessory does not automatically determine if it considered as an estate piece. An engagement ring that was purchased eight months ago and returned to a retailer is considered estate jewelry, as does a statement necklace that was owned 20 years ago.

Many jewelry dealers will restrict the use of this term to fine and costume jewelry that has been made within the last 20-30 years.

Vintage Jewelry

Vintage jewelry refers to jewelry -- usually costume pieces -- that are between 20-100 years old, have not been mass-produced, and display characteristics that are iconic of the time period it was made in.

Thanks to the higher quality materials and craftsmanship of these accessories, many vintage jewelry items like wedding rings or bracelets can still be worn without causing damage to them.

Keep in mind that new jewelry items made in a similar style to vintage pieces or repurposing materials from a past era does not make them vintage; this makes them vintage-inspired. Only the year a piece was made determines whether it is classified as vintage or something else.

Once you have looked at a few jewelry pieces that are classified as vintage or antique (more on antiques in the next section!), you can start to tell if they’re the real deal by how well they’re made. Jewelry with gemstones that are glued in place or show shoddy workmanship can certainly be vintage, but we have found that this is most likely not the case.

Vintage Jewelry at Good Old Gold Jewelers

Antique Jewelry

Finally, antique jewelry is comprised of the oldest pieces on the market today -- jewelry that has been made 100 years or more ago. Similar to vintage pieces, antique jewelry like those from the Victorian or Edwardian periods are easily recognized by their appearance.

Although many of these designs have been made by the masters of their craft back in their day with superior materials, you won’t find many antique jewelry pieces actually being worn. This is because antique jewelry is typically too delicate or too valuable for these settings; oftentimes, if you do see them at all, it will be behind a collector’s or museum’s showcases for display purposes only.

Learn More about Estate Jewelry with Good Old Gold

Learning about the different kinds of estate jewelry and how to identify each style is a topic that we’re very fond of here at Good Old Gold.

If you’d like to learn more about estate, vintage, or antique jewelry, get in touch with our jewelry showroom by calling 516-798-5151 or sending us an email at sales@goodoldgold.com. Otherwise, feel free to visit us in person at our showroom in Massapequa Park, New York today to see our full collection of estate and antique jewelry!

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