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Vintage jewelry makes a statement, and moreover it may be the only way an average gal (with an average paycheck) can afford designer jewelry. Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, and Gucci are just some of the names in vintage jewelry, and their vintage pieces can be found everywhere from thrift stores to estate sales.
The following guide tells you everything you need to know about buying vintage jewelry, including where to shop and how to spot a fake.
Shop at these Places
Shopping in the right locations can save you a bundle on vintage jewelry. Most collectors consider themselves hunters because they’re constantly on the lookout for brand name vintage jewelry. You can join the hunt by frequenting auction houses, estate sales, online auctions, flea markets, and consignment shops. Moreover, you can find premium vintage jewelry in jewelry stores that specialize in buying back premium pieces. Etsy is great place to look for all sorts of vintage jewelry as well.
Know Your Brands
It’s important to familiarize yourself with your favorite designers and their branding. The Internet is a great place to learn the logos, and vintage design styles of the world’s top jewelry designers. The fashion blog, Tempus Suisse, offers a list of jewelry brands, watch brands, and diamond brands. Use that list to determine which designers are luxury, and which are costume/fashion.
Spot Signature Markings
Most jewelry designers have been around for decades, which means there are plenty of vintage pieces out there, but it’s up to you to know the looks and logos of the pieces. Research the signature markings of your favorite vintage designers. Do this, and you’ll be less likely to fall for a fake. Most often, you can quickly spot signature markings on the outside, or inside, of a designer’s piece.
Complex Style warns that scammers will attempt to confuse you with these markings. “Obviously, if the ‘Versace’ looks more like ‘Vorsace,’ the jewelry isn’t authentic. Make sure you look out for the small details because counterfeiters are getting better at making these less noticeable.”
Don’t Waste Money on Fakes
There’s only two ways to absolutely determine you didn’t purchase a fake, and that’s to garner a certificate of authenticity and/or have the jewelry studied by a jewelry/appraisal expert. These are easy to come by in jewelry stores, and at auctions. Unfortunately, estate sales and flea markets hardly ever sell jewelry with any sort of safeguard, or professional opinion.
Lucky Magazine recommends shopping prepared. “Bringing a small eyeglass loop with you is always a good idea. That way, you can see if a piece is signed by the designer’s name…” Additionally, you can pay a small deposit on the item, and ask that the shopkeeper hold it for you. Take photos, go home, and research the piece online. Or, return with a professional and let him offer his opinion. If you’re certain the item is a true designer piece, and it’s being sold at a reasonable price, go ahead and buy. If you feel that the piece isn’t legitimate, don’t waste your money.
Overall, hunting for vintage designer jewelry should be fun and worthwhile. There are a lot of fakes out there, but there’s also a lot of real (and really inexpensive) designer pieces out there. You simply need to know where to look, and what to look for. After a while, you’ll become a vintage pro – expertly sifting through the costume jewelry to get your hands on the brands you love.