The words antique, estate and vintage are used to help date older pieces of jewellery. But what exactly is considered antique, vintage and estate? It’s a common question we come across, and the answer tends to vary from how you would normally classify an old house or a vintage car.
What’s important to understand is that all jewellery that isn’t new is considered to be estate jewellery. However, not all estate jewellery is antique or vintage. These are rather defined by when the piece was made.
This refers to a piece of jewellery that’s around 100 years or older. Plenty of art deco pieces from the 1920s are also considered antique, especially if they were made in the earlier part of the decade. When a dealer calls an item antique, you can rest assure it is very old. If you’re ever unsure, pay Kalmar Antiques in Sydney, Australia a visit to learn more.
Take note of the words “antique style.” This refers to reproductions that look old but there’s no mention of the age of the item.
Estate jewellery refers to any jewellery that isn’t used. The term includes all second-hand jewellery regardless of its age. For instance, if you got engaged last year and received a brand-new diamond engagement ring, but then called off the wedding and sold your ring, the jeweler would classify it as estate jewellery.
However, instead of describing every piece of jewellery as estate jewellery, experts who deal in fine antique and modern pieces limit the term to jewellery made within the last three decades. There are times when the word estate can indicate a piece of reproduction jewellery. It’s safe to say that if someone refers to estate jewellery without mentioning a piece’s age, it’s probably not very old.
For jewellery to be considered vintage, it needs to be at least 20 to 30 years old. So, it could be anything made during the 1990s or before that. Of the three terms, vintage is probably the most common as it includes a wide variety of periods when jewellery was produced in mass.
Technically, an engagement ring made in the 1800s would be considered vintage. But instead of classifying it as vintage, most jewelers will call the ring antique just to highlight its age.
Estate Jewellery Can Become Misleading
It’s worth noting that both “estate” and “vintage” can be misleading. A reputable dealer, for example, wouldn’t consider a 300-year-old item “estate,” even though it technically is. Rather, a reliable dealer will use the words “antique” to avoid confusion.
On the other hand, an unreliable dealer may call a new reproduction piece “estate,” leading uninformed customers to believe the item is older than it is.
If you are ever in doubt, talk to an expert who will help you decipher whether an item is estate or antique.