When it comes to assessing what makes a ‘good investment’, antique and vintage jewellery often pops up. Let’s face it: quality jewellery lasts, and with time, only becomes more valuable.
When antique jewellery has been looked after over the years, even with a little wear and tear, their nature and history holds more value than brand new jewellery. It’s often said that if you compare antique jewellery to a brand new piece that has just been made, an antique piece won’t have its markup significantly affected by the retailer and manufacturer.
This being said, it’s not advised to just go out there on an antique jewellery hunt looking for any old pieces of jewellery, without any thought. You have to take into account a number of factors when getting into antique jewellery, and being involved in this industry for investment reasons.
Whether a natural lover or vintage and antique jewels, or you’ve suddenly taken an interest after thinking about the investment advantages, take a read of this guide first before you jump in with two feet!
How to differentiate vintage from antique
Vintage jewellery is generally considered to be pieces that were made around 20-100 years ago. On the other hand, antique jewellery, tends to be much older, often dating back a century or more; right through to ancient history times. This is an important aspect to be aware of, as the general rule is that the older the piece, the more it costs.
There are other things that can boost the value, too. If a piece of jewellery has a date stamp or a designers signature on it, it will exponentially increases its value.
If you come across extremely old pieces of jewellery, it is worth getting an expert jeweller to thoroughly examine the pieces of vintage or antique jewellery – especially if suspected from a designer label. It might be that you don’t properly know how to check for this, and you may be pleasantly surprised from what they find!
Another thing to keep an eye out for is the presence of hallmarks. This is solid proof of a piece’s great value. Another way to have a research into this yourself is to check out The Birmingham Assay Office website, which has a basic hallmarking guide you can consult.
Gold or gemstones?
It goes without saying that gold jewellery has long been know to be reliably valuable, so it’s understandable why people tend to keep an eye out for antique gold pieces as the value remains high. Selling pieces for their gold content is also much simpler than selling jewellery for their overall quality, which is worth bearing in mind. However, it’s all about the purity of the gold, as broken and damaged gold jewellery can still be sold for a high price. When scrapped, it’s the gold content that matters, hot so much the condition of the jewellery piece.
For the purest gold, it’s 24 carat, measuring in at 999 parts of pure gold per thousand. However, the highest in terms of value for gold jewellery is 22 carats, which can be sold for more than twice the value of more common 9 carat gold jewellery!
The value of gemstones is such that some aged jewellery have their good gemstones removed and set into new jewellery. This makes vintage and antique jewellery that still have their original gemstones rarer and all the more valuable.
When it comes to evaluating antique jewellery, it’s important to consider gemstones, too. Gemstones are very much key when it comes to antiques, you just have to carefully consider the 4 C’s (colour, cut, clarity, and carat). Of course, diamonds will always remain the most sought after gemstones, and in their case, size matters! The bigger the rock, the more you’re going to get for your money.
Other gemstones to keep an eye out for include Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, which are all known to bump up the asking price of jewellery, as long as they are in a good condition. Depreciation begins if the stones are cracked, faded, or loose, which can be common when jewellery is so old.
How to establish authenticity
Sadly, when you start getting into buying vintage and antique jewellery for investment purposes, you’ll find not every piece advertised as such is actually legitimate.
Problems center around counterfeit stones, or jewellery treated to appear older than it actually is. If you are not familiar with the defining characteristics of antique jewellery and feel you could be mislead, it’s extremely important that you only go to a certified jeweller or trusted auction house if you plan on investing in antique jewellery or vintage pieces.
Remember: if the price you have been quoted sounds way too good to be true for an item, then that is most likely the case.
Think about global interest and longevity
Antique jewellery will be worth much more when the designs have a more global appeal. Of course, it might seem obvious, but when investing in antique and vintage jewellery it does require you to think long term about the opportunities you have. Don’t always center around high prices and the prestige of the pieces.
The jewellery should have the most striking design possible and be made from excellent craftsmanship, meaning the higher quality the pieces, the more global appeal it will have.
If you’re thinking about a strong theme for the antique jewellery you invest in, the following are classic and timeless, and always seem to hold their value: Art Deco jewellery, natural pearls, 1920’S Gatsby glam, Victorian and art nouveau.
Overall, do bear in mind that as with anything investment wise, you invest at your own risk. Take the time to research fully before going into this area, although if you have a passion and love for jewellery and history, it’s potentially going to be a fantastic area for you…