Guide to Vintage Jewelry

Defining the term “vintage” can be tricky. When referring to vintage jewelry, there are three ways to label it vintage. The broad term “vintage” means something that is between 50-100 years old. Also, jewelry is deemed “vintage” when it comes from a certain iconic era. Jewelry is also called vintage when it is an older piece that goes well with modern clothing.

How Can I Tell If Jewelry is Vintage?

Retro, antique, costume, and art deco are all types of jewelry you may find when looking for vintage jewelry in a thrift store or online vintage retailers. Start with a few simple steps to gain information about the piece you are considering:

Look For Any Distinguishing Features Of The Era

In The Design Jewelry from the 1920s and 1930s is considered vintage. When you see architectural geometric designs, you are looking at a vintage piece. The Art Nouveau period, the early 1900s, offers nature, flowers, and butterflies in its vintage pieces. Diamond jewelry should be made from an old mine-cut diamond. These diamonds have imperfections you don’t see today in hand-cut laser diamonds.

vintage pearl necklace

Look For Signs Of Authentic Wear On The Piece

Vintage jewelry should look like it has been worn. Different areas, such as prongs that hold jewels or clasps, should have a soft and well-worn look. Vintage clasps will open and close easily and pearls will have dull spots where they have touched skin over a long period.

Look Closely At Any Trade Markings.

Real gold will have a stamp that lists the purity level such as how many karats. Sterling silver should have a 925 stamped into the jewelry. You may even see a stamp that says “sterling” or “coin silver” to denote quality.

vintage pearl brooch and necklace

Check For Markings Of The Maker Or Any Logos.

A maker’s mark or logo is a symbol that the piece or the metal of the piece has been verified as authentic. Snag any jewelry that has marks of brands no longer available.

Pay Attention To Manufacturing Methods

Certain types of clasps were used in certain periods. For instance, the lobster claw type of clasp was used in the 1970s. C-clasps were used in early twentieth-century brooches. Learn the specific characteristics of jewelry in certain eras to better spot them while searching.

collection of vintage pearl and rhinestone jewelry

Finding vintage jewelry is like going on a scavenger hunt with a great reward in the end. Shop local flea markets, thrift stores, and estate sales to check out the pieces carefully. Visit us at ThisBlueBird to take a look at all of the vintage pieces we have available. We even have tips on how to style vintage jewelry. When you have the right tools and the right knowledge, you will sniff out some fabulous vintage pieces you can hand down to the next generation.