It’s said over and over again that history repeats itself and vintage jewelry is no exception. Shopping flea markets, estate sales and thrift stores is a great way to find current looks on a shoestring budget. Prices are more reasonable that current designs, meaning you don’t have to pay runway prices for couture looks. As an added bonus, estate jewelry retains its value better than new pieces, which are more likely to be donated or discarded. Vintage items can be resold to a thrift store or sold at online auction if you decide you’re ready to move on. Buying at estate sale pricing, which is generally significantly cheaper than buying new items, means it’s less financially straining to change your style on a whim. For those who have eclectic tastes, buying vintage also ensures that your jewelry will be one of a kind in your circle of friends.
If you absolutely must follow the current trends, window shop at the high end boutiques and then take themes and ideas with you to spend your money at the flea market. Expect jewelry to be 30-100 years old and in good condition for its age; condition is very important! While you can expect Victorian era pieces to have a century’s worth of dusty luster to them, jewelry should not be dirty, broken, or have missing stones. Remember, this is a wearable collection so buy pieces in good condition that you can imagine yourself wearing.
If you know that you’re looking for a new-to-you Bakelite ring or fantastic Art Deco brooch, spend some time at home before your shopping trip getting familiar with what’s available. Search out blogs, online forums and jewelry identification sites to research various designers that appeal to your sense of style. You can count on quality designers to produce quality pieces, thus making your new jewelry a good investment. Although not all jewelry is marked, much is identifiable, so become familiar with the hallmarks of various designers. Unsigned pieces are common across the board though, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t find any marked pieces.
If possible when shopping, attempt to gather provenance about the piece, which increases value and interest about your new estate jewelry. Provenance is verifiable history about a collectible item and can add significant value to a piece. If you’ve watched the popular show “Antiques Roadshow” you’ve seen see an estimate skyrocket due to the addition of a photograph, letter or newspaper clipping. Create your own antique hunting adventure and have fun creating your new signature look with vintage estate jewelry!