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  • Writer's pictureAntiques in Oxford

What is considered vintage jewellery?

Vintage jewellery is desirable twentieth century jewellery, that doesn’t necessarily fit into any particular design styles, such as Art Deco, modernist or mid-century modern. The term can cover costume jewellery and fine jewellery.

How old is vintage jewellery?

Vintage covers a broad time period, from anything that is later than a hundred years old to fairly recent years. We have seen items from the 1980s and 1990s being described as vintage.

How much should someone expect to pay for vintage jewellery?

It does depend on what materials were used to make the jewellery and if it's a designer or anonymous piece. Prices can start at a few pounds upwards. Some items can reach the hundreds of thousands and higher.

What vintage jewellery is the most expensive?

The most expensive pieces are fine jewellery items, set with diamonds and gemstones, made by the most desirable designers and high-end houses.

What vintage jewellery is the most collectable?

It depends on style and budget. Signed items from the high-end design houses, such as Cartier, are always in demand. Gentleman clients often collect vintage cufflinks from houses, such as Van Cleef and Arpels, Boucheron and Cartier.

The clean lines of 1960s and 1970s jewellery are currently very popular, with the post war gold work also fitting in well with these styles. The colourful, fun pieces of the 1950s, featuring whimsical designs also catch the eyes of collectors.

How can someone find out the value of their vintage jewellery?

It depends on whether the client is looking to value their items for insurance replacement to cover the cost of loss or damage, in which case they should seek out a valuer, who, for a fee, will assess the jewellery on the basis of what it would cost to remake or replace the item. If someone is looking to sell, the value is at a different price point to the cost of replacement. Many buyers prefer sellers to have an idea of the price they want to achieve.

What is the best way to buy / sell vintage jewellery?

Buying from a recognised retailer or dealer is the best way to buy. You can be sure that items will be as described and you will be provided with information on the materials that the item is made from. If the item has a known history this will also be described to the purchaser.

Some retailers will buy vintage and antique items. Antique dealers and auction houses are the most popular ways to sell. People are also selling their own jewellery online, through the various selling sites. Private selling to friends and relatives is also worth considering.

What advice would you give to someone starting a vintage jewellery collection?

First and foremost, make sure it is something you really love and find inspiring. It's no good having something that disappoints after a few years. Go for the items that really catch your eye. If they have designer names so much the better. Buy items that are either made from the best materials or the materials you like best, you might favour a certain gemstone.

Items that are in good condition are important, especially make sure clasps and fittings are working well. If you know a good repairer who you can rely on, then it can be worth picking up something at a lower price that takes into account the cost of repair.

Vintage Dior brooch

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The late Anthony Gardner (1938-2023), a notable London-based jewellery dealer and collector specialised in both the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts periods.  He established The Purple Shop in the 1960s


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