The Difference Between Antique and Vintage Jewellery

Many people interested in jewellery say they’re looking to purchase vintage or antique pieces, but aren’t completely sure what the difference is. Descriptions of items can lose meaning when they’re frequently misused and the above products are a perfect example. This can lead to confusion amongst buyers. It doesn’t help that many online listings use these labels interchangeably, but if you’re an enthusiast or collector then it pays to know the accurate meanings of each. So, just what is the difference?

You’ll be glad to know that the distinction is very simple, and is linked to how old the piece is. There’s a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the concepts, and you’ll see “vintage” used far more than “antique”. Certain styles of jewellery are often incorrectly labelled as vintage. They may possess a strong and unique aesthetic particular to a certain era, and you may find eBay listings including objects from the 1980s and 90s as vintage.

However, a piece of jewellery can only be truly described as vintage if it was produced between 50-100 years ago. In other words, any jewellery created between 1920-1970 can be classified as vintage. Amongst this period of time, you’ll find that the most popular eras include; Art Deco, Retro, and Mid-Century.

In contrast, antique jewellery has to be at least 100 years old to be classed as such, meaning it needs to have been made before 1920. The most popular eras for antique jewellery you’ll find are; Art Nouveau, Georgian, and Edwardian.

It’s also worth noting that if a piece of jewellery has been repaired, then it must still be comprised of at least 50% of the original materials to be classed as antique or vintage. Pieces that have sustained too much damage and require extensive repairs have this status revoked.

With this in mind, those who purchase antique jewellery are far less likely to wear it due to its high value and scarcity. To avoid damage and devaluation to the piece, it is often simply displayed by collectors, though even this may not be the case for more fragile pieces.

On the other hand, vintage jewellery is generally more likely to be bought to be worn, not simply as a fashion statement, but as a piece of jewellery that the owner can rely on to last and not depreciate. They’re also often easier to match with current trends and less delicate than antique pieces.

Inspired to hunt for your own antique jewellery? Why not peruse our selection and see what beautiful pieces we have to offer. You can also contact us today at phil@pm-antiques.co.uk or 01932 640113 to arrange a viewing in store.

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