Antique or vintage jewelry can come as a thrilling thrift shop discovery or a heartfelt gift from a family member. Whether you wear it or carefully store it in a safe deposit box, it’s fair to ask, “does antique or vintage jewelry keep its value?”
The Difference Between Antique and Vintage
Before you ask whether a piece will hold its value, you need to know the value in the first place. Your jewelry’s age is one factor in valuation but isn’t necessarily the determining factor.
While some people use the terms antique and vintage interchangeably, people in the jewelry business, including jewelry stores and jewelry dealers, regard antique as signifying a piece that is at least 100 years old. Vintage, on the other hand, denotes pieces from 50-99 years old.
You may have an old piece of jewelry that you regard as antique or vintage, but if it is less than 50 years old, to a jewelry professional, it’s an estate piece of jewelry.
Determining a Piece of Jewelry’s Age
It’s not always as easy to figure out how old a piece of jewelry is as you might think. The materials, including the type of gold (if the piece is gold), are a clue, as are the weight (how much metal and the size of gemstones) and the design and style of the piece. The types of gems used also help determine age, as gemstones go in and out of fashion, and the favored cut of diamonds has also changed over the years.
The best way to determine your piece’s age and resale value are with a professional appraisal from an independent, certified appraiser. Even then, you could get three different opinions from three appraisers.
Value Now and Value Later
Figuring out whether antique or vintage jewelry will hold its value involves, at least in part, predicting the future. Trends come and go, and the value of gemstones and precious metals is subject to market variations.
That said, aspects of both antique and vintage jewelry indicate it will hold its value and probably even appreciate, becoming more valuable over time. These factors include:
An antique piece in top condition, with no chips, scratches, or damage, will likely retain its value and even appreciate. The same is true for vintage pieces, especially if they are rare. Estate pieces are more vulnerable to the whims of fashion, but quality and rarity can overcome these factors.
Check your pieces for a hallmark, a stamp or a tag indicating the type of metal used, which may include a symbol for the designer. Be aware, however, that forgers can fake these. An experienced, certified professional appraiser can recognize that type of forgery and alert you to it.
You can weigh and measure precious metals and gems, but the sentimental value is priceless regardless of the quality or rarity of a piece. When someone you love buys or bequeaths you a piece of antique fine jewelry, no one can put a price on what that means. Get an appraisal for insurance purposes, and then enjoy the beauty of the piece and the love that came with it.
With 40 years’ experience selling antique, estate, and vintage items, Solvang Antiques offers a curated selection of items that include pieces sought by collectors and museum-quality items. Browse our collections today.