Vintage Jewelry

Sunday, 30 November 2008 | Tags: , , ,

Vintage jewelry is a fun way to accessorize and add a touch of glamour to your look. We test our keen eyes and look for some vintage style without breaking the bank.

The Basics

  • Vintage jewelry is valued for how it’s made – the design and workmanship of the piece – rather than what it’s made of.

  • Check for the designer’s name stamped on the piece to prove authenticity. If it’s a popular designer such as Sherman or Miriam Haskel, it will ensure the value.

  • Check that no stones are missing and the setting is in its original condition. If a stone is missing a jeweler may be able to find a replacement, but it can get quite expensive.

  • Carefully inspect the closures (clasps or pins) to ensure they’re in working condition. If not, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker since it can likely be repaired – just make sure the jeweller uses antique parts.

  • Apart from minor repairs, you want to find a piece that’s in overall good condition to maintain its vintage status.

  • Costume jewelry appraisal is largely subjective, and is based on size, colour and boldness – with workmanship and designer signature also driving up the price.

Other Considerations

  • There’s a world of jewelry to choose from online, but you can’t see it or touch it to be sure what you’re getting. Make sure it’s described as authentic vintage not vintage-style. Also email the seller any questions if you’re unsure.

  • If you’re purchasing from a reputable and well-established dealer, ask for a detailed, written description to back up its authenticity. That way if it doesn’t end up being real, you can return it.

  • You can also buy jewelry today that in 10-20 years may be considered vintage. High end designers are usually your best bet, but don’t rule out the up-and-comers.

  • Designers like Chanel often make reproductions of their vintage pieces. Though easier to find, they don’t come with the value and status of an original.


We shopped at four different stores to find that perfect vintage flower brooch. Then, with our mission complete, we invited an independent appraiser to see how we did for value.

  • Vintage Clothing Store Sherman brooch: $65
  • Online BKS: $13
  • Estate Shop 1930’s English Crystal Flower Brooch: $59
  • Antique Store Boucher: $250

Our tests and results include:

Appraisal Test

  • While the antique store brooch was no bargain, according to our appraiser it best mimicked real jewelry. It was her pick appraised at $200+.

  • Because size counts when it comes to appraising vintage pieces, our estate shop piece was appraised below what we paid at $25.

  • We got more than our money’s worth from the vintage clothing store which made us happy. Our appraiser figured it was worth about $100+.

  • The brooch we bought online was only from the 70’s, but still considered vintage. Its appraised value was $35 when we only paid $13!


If a piece of jewelry has been designated antique, be sure you’re totally in love with it because it will cost you. Keep your eyes open for good deals on popular designers – with some smart shopping, you just never know!


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