When buying a piece of antique jewelry there is a lot of jargon thrown around, whether shopping in-person or online. So we would like to take a moment to separate fact from fiction.
Webster’s Dictionary defines antique jewelry as 100 years or older. The colloquial defines antique jewelry as fifty years or older. We embrace the colloquial definition although many of our pieces date back to the early 1800s. (Next to each piece on our site we write the circa date to let you know its era.)
A circa date gives a twenty year span for a piece of jewelry's creation. Therefore a piece of jewelry, with a 1920 circa date, was created between 1910 and 1930.
Why do we circa date? Unless the piece is hallmarked, or a physical receipt is present, an appraiser uses clues from the cut of the stone, the type of metal used, the style, as well as the construction to determine the age. Age can be determined to a specific era with these clues but not to a specific year.
Estate jewelry is jewelry that is previously owned. Many people use the term estate jewelry to refer to antique jewelry but this is a very broad definition for a very specific thing. Unlike an antique piece of jewelry, an estate piece of jewelry does not have to be old it just has to be used. So while almost all antique jewelry is also estate jewelry. Only a portion of estate jewelry is antique.
A reproduction piece is a new piece of jewelry intended to look old. But it is far from the same thing. Beyond the fact that very few jewelers can even begin to replicate the beauty of an old piece of jewelry, reproduction jewelry does not appreciate as well as old jewelry, as much of the value of an old piece of jewelry lies in its authenticity as well as the craftsmanship of the older decades. (This is also the reason that those who sell jewelry reproductions can often sell their pieces at a much lower cost. They can order their jewelry from a factory. Antique jewelry has to be sought all over the country and often the globe. There is a finite amount of it in the world. This is part of the reason that while the initial cost of an antique piece may be slightly higher it ultimately is a much better value as the antique piece will appreciate and the reproduction will not.)
The word style is a tricky way people pass off new, reproduction pieces as old without technically lying. Words like Deco “Style” and Edwardian “Style” are used to say a piece was made in the style of a particular era without actually being produced during that time period.
For pieces with an appraisal, an independent appraiser verifies age and value. (We use North American Gemological Laboratory for all our appraisals.) For pieces without appraisal, Laura Dalesandro and Elizabeth Schoenleber use over 60 years collective experience in the antique jewelry business to determine age and value.
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