Buying antique jewellery is nothing to be afraid of. Jewellery lends itself very well to investment buying. It's also inclinded towards longevity by its very nature. Jewellery is precious, its owners want to preserve it. The most popular jewellery materials have become precious in part because of their durability and longevity.
When you're informed though you make better decisions. And no field is without its scammers.
Here we'll give you the 7 tips you need to start buying antique jewellery safely and successfully.
1. The good news
Jewellery is made to last. Museums are full of it. It's made of some of the hardest (diamond), purest (gold), and most durable (steel) materials mankind has ever encountered.
Some of the scare stories you hear are just that. Frightening headlines designed to attract your eyeballs. There is a vast, long-established, and well-credentialled legitimate antique jewellery market.
Most people who you encounter - even online - are honest. Most outright scams are easy to spot - common sense is your best friend and a fairly good defence.
It's also relatively easy to learn what you need to learn about buying antique jewellery.
If you buy for beauty.
Picking items you love, simply because you love them rather than as an investment.
You can never lose it.
So don't panic.
2. What is your why?
If you have the money to buy antique jewellery more or less on a whim. Enjoy it!
If, like most of us, you have to be more careful it's important to be clear with yourself why you're buying.
Choosing the right piece is so much easier when you know what it's supposed to do.
- Are you buying as a gift? Then your recipient is the focus of your thoughts.
- As an investment? Then you should research the maker and the materials.
- For yourself? What suits you? What modern jewellery do you love.
Take a moment - it's a lovely conversation to have with a friend - to think about the reason you want to buy antique jewellery.
3. Where to start
Buy from a trusted source.
Unfortunately, most untrusted sources will tell you that they are trusted. So you do need to do a little due dilligence.
It's very easy to knock up a few good-looking web pages. It takes a lot more trouble to make a fully functioning site with a full range of products, proper payment systems, and reviews at reputable sites. Most scammers will never bother.
Be wary of offers that look too good to be true. Of sites that are thin on content beyond a single piece. Of limited payment methods - especially sites that will only accept Bitcoin (paying in crypto currencies is fine, but if it's the only option you should ask why).
A good quality site, rich with content, with a real, checkable street addresses is a great way to start buying safely.
4. Information beats ignorance
No legitimate seller of antique jewellery will mind you asking questions. And they won't skimp on descriptions either.
Take a look at the description and read it carefully.
You don't need to be an eyeglass-owning jewellery expert to buy and appreciate great antique jewellery.
But most buyers will learn a little along the way. And antique jewellery becomes an enthusiasm for most.
If you're starting out though please do research as you go along - if you're not sure when the Art Deco period was, give it a quick Google.
It's certainly worth getting informed on quality and purity ratings for gold and silver. And the most common cuts, and settings for stones. And how stones are rated for quality.
Hallmarks and certifications are your friends as long as you've taken the time to understand them.
5. Wearable and usable?
Are you buying jewellery that you want to wear?
We think that's the best reason to buy antique jewellery.
Unless you're a collector or connoisseur buying jewellery as an investment is probably less certain than buying good-quality precious stones or metals.
Gold is gold, diamonds are diamonds. A particular style of jewellery may fall in and out of favour over time.
So buy to wear and buy to last.
That means checking the condition properly. And knowing that sized items will fit you.
Jewellery is durable, and it is usually repairable. If you're buying an item to wear then repairing it is very much an option. If it's being purchased as an original and unique work of art you need to be more careful as tampering with the original may affect its value.
6. Styles down the ages
When you're buying to wear you need to know what you love. What suits you.
Here, history is your friend.
Fashion is a time-sensitive thing. And an historical aesthetic that you love is a great place to start your shopping.
Pop culture is a great place to start.
If Gatsby is your thing then look for Art Deco pieces from the style's 1920s and 30s hey day.
If Bridgerton floats your boat then look for Regency or Georgian looks from the turn of the 18th to 19th centuries.
If you're looking for bargains you might find more recent periods an interesting hunting ground.
7. Are you sure?
We would love to buy antique jewellery.
We think there's something special about it. If you're reading this, you probably do too.
It's historic and authentic. It often has qualities that more current pieces can't match.
It's almost always unique, very rare, or in limited supply.
Sometimes modern makers can match these though.
And many produce in retro or classic styles. Though every designer is to some extent of their own time.
So shop with an open mind and consider adding artisan, independent designers and makers to your browsing history too.
Art Deco from the 1930s on the left, versus modern Art Deco-style on the right
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