Hidden Treasure Alert: A Period-by-Period Guide to Unique Estate Jewelry
The types of jewelry differ from each other and have qualities of complex craftsmanship, individuality, and rarity, which collectors and lovers of exclusive jewelry live for.
Unlike modern jewelry styles, Estate jewelry isn’t available in large quantities, which makes these pieces not only a good investment, but also a source of profit.
In this article, we’ll help you navigate the world of Estate, antique, and vintage jewelry, exploring styles which don’t belong to the modern era, but were present and used in art periods, ancient, or historical times.
What is the difference between Vintage, Antique, and Estate jewelry?
“Estate Jewelry” is defined by any jewelry owned for any period of time. Therefore, any jewelry which isn’t brand new is labeled Estate jewelry.
Depending on the age, conservation, and designer, Estate jewelry can be more or less valuable. Below, we’ll explore vintage and antique jewelry, and understand what are the characteristics that make each one of these styles so rare.
To be classified as vintage, jewelry needs to be at least twenty-five years old. In a certain way, vintage jewelry becomes more valuable and rare as time passes, and one day will even be classified as antique, making it a great investment.
Vintage typically refers to pieces of jewelry made after the 1920s and include the glamorous effects and designs of the Retro Era, such as Art Deco, and Art Nouveau styles.
Art Deco started in France and brought to light geometric angles, sharp circles, and typographic lines. The style developed in response to Cubism. Its neat interpretations still cause a sensation with flat ornamental patterns, the overuse of black and white, and a predominance of onyx, diamonds, and emeralds. Elongated brooches, triangular emeralds, pearls, and carved rock crystal pendants might indicate you have an Art Deco jewelry piece in your collection.
This modern style completely transformed the fashion world with its artistic effect.
The commitment to diamonds was replaced by gemstones of soft shades such as moonstones, aquamarines, and opals. Enamel was present in almost every jewelry piece.
If you have beautifully depicted fairies, nymphs, florals, butterflies, and insects, there’s a good chance you might have Art Nouveau jewelry in your hands.
Jewelry needs to be over one hundred years old to be classified as antique. Antique Jewelry is valuable because it features exquisite artwork and creative designs reminiscent of the type and shape of different historical times.
The style is considered the purest and most authentic form of jewelry, from periods when mass production didn’t yet exist. Antique jewelry typically belongs to the historical Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian periods.
Stylistic motifs such as flowers, leaves, ivy, and snakes were popular in handmade jewelry during the rule of Queen Victoria. Cameos and brooches are also very characteristic of this period. Rubies, emeralds, and diamonds appeared in lower quality cuts in the Victorian Era; and medallions and pendants had secret compartments used to keep hair locks and tokens.
Edwardian jewelry explored fragility and graceful designs, which resulted in a lacy effect of delicate metalwork. Jewelry of this period showed elegance and lightness with the frequent use of pearls and platinum. In addition, bows, moons, hearts, stars, scrolls, and flowers were often depicted in Edwardian jewelry.
How to appraise estate jewelry
The most accurate evaluation of Estate jewelry uses documents, certificates, old photographs, engravings, and details passed on from former owners as starting points.
If you’re unsure about the value of your Estate jewelry piece and would like a specialized evaluation, Harris Jeweler offers the expertise you need as one of only 21 certified appraisal labs in America.
Where to buy Estate Jewelry
Always shop Estate jewelry with certified jewelers—the only place where you’ll have documentation guaranteeing the origin of rare jewelry pieces.
Estate jewelry is in vogue, so if you want to acquire exclusive pieces full of history and style, this is the right time!
If you want to be the stylish owner of antique, vintage, or Estate jewelry, you’ll love the curated selection of rare pieces you can find at Harris Jewelers’ showroom.