Most of us do not really make a difference between the terms “antique” and “vintage”, because our brain cells immediately connect them to the notion of something old, retro and ancestral. This can be quite confusing when shopping for jewelry and the truth is, many customers are lead by the common misconceptions related to the meaning of these two “descriptive adjectives”. So, it is time to put the cards on the table and explain what is the real difference between vintage and antique jewelry.
DEFINING THE MEANING OF “ANTIQUE”
If you look up in the dictionary, you will see that the term “antique” appears as both a noun and an adjective, outlined with the following definitions:
- “a collectable object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its age and quality.” (noun)
- “belonging to ancient times.” (adjective)
In jewelry, the term “antique” is used to describe jewelry that is at least 100 years old. Therefore, a genuine piece of antique jewelry is the one that has been made before 1918. This is actually, denoting the era of World War I during which, much to your surprise, many extraordinary jewelry designs, such as Art Deco and Art Nouveau, were developed. Most of them hold a great historical value and significance, hence the reason why they can be seen in museums and auctions only, as they are not available for commercial use.
DEFINING THE MEANING OF “VINTAGE”
You looked up in the dictionary to see how the term “antique” is defined, now let’s see what definition is given for “vintage”. Again, this is a word that has a function of both a noun and an adjective:
- the year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced. (noun)
- the time that something of quality was produced. (noun)
- relating to or denoting wine of high quality. (adjective)
- denoting something from the past of high quality, especially something representing the best of its kind. (adjective)
Contrary to antique jewelry, when a piece of jewelry is described as “vintage”, it means that it is at least 20 years old. Seen from today’s perspective, this means that any jewelry that has been created before 1998 can be given the attribute “vintage”. This word was incredibly popular during the 1980s – 1990s, especially in the clothing industry.
“VINTAGE-INSPIRED” – IS THIS A NEW JEWELRY CATEGORY?
The recent reason for confusion among newcomers to the vintage/antique jewelry world is the term “vintage-inspired”. So, the typical question is - What does it mean? “Vintage-inspired” is a classifier used for newly-designed jewelry that is showcasing a vintage look. In other words, this is not a jewelry that is 20 years old or more, but it looks as such. Moreover, it is not necessary to be previously owned, which is often the case with antique jewelry and vintage jewelry. Please note that the key details that make a jewelry piece look vintage is the diamond cut and the elaborate work of the artisan who made it (engravings, milgrain edging and filigree work).
THE ANTIQUE JEWELRY PERIODS
⚜ Georgian Period (1714 – 1830)
Finding original Georgian jewelry today is almost impossible; it is rarely seen even in museums. The reason? Extreme rarity. The jewelry from this period was commonly made of 18K gold and silver. Since yellow gold was significantly expensive, most of the jewelry was crafted in silver and plated with gold, in order to reduce its costliness and make it more available for everyone. The typical Georgian jewelry features plenty of gems in one single piece, including rose and table cuts as the most popular shapes. Sapphires, amethysts and garnets on the other hand, were the most favored precious stones.
⚜ Victorian Period (1837 – 1901)
This period introduced the black jet jewelry and the gold lockets, which were actually, the signature jewelry of Queen Victoria. This was also the period when South African diamonds were discovered and gain a global popularity. The solitaire engagement ring design was launched on the market as well. The meaning of birthstones was huge to the extent that during certain years, they were more demanded than diamonds themselves.
⚜ Edwardian Period (1901 – 1910)
Platinum entered the world of precious metals and introduced a new era in jewelry craftsmanship, by making the pieces more durable, delicate and sophisticated. Therefore, a genuine Edwardian ring looks so elaborate that the stones which is embellished with appear as if nestled in lace and not in metal. “Silky white” became women’s new favorite color. Big-sized gemstones, such as sapphires, aquamarines and emeralds were seen as the hallmark of Edwardian jewelry, especially when set between elegant milgrain edges. Simply put, this antique jewelry style made a woman look feminine and airy. The beginning of World War I ceased the making of Edwardian jewelry and also depleted the sources of platinum, as it started being used for war purposes only.
You can discover best buys and a great assortment of antique jewelry in our collection, which has recently been upgraded with brand-new, enticing pieces that will literally blow your mind. We are expecting you!