It is an excellent time for fans of vintage jewelry. Gold and silver set high records in 2019, meaning that the number of people that are used to selling their unwanted gold and silver jewelry increased. Now’s the perfect opportunity to scope out your favorite antique shops or flea markets to see if you can get your hands on your next favorite vintage piece.
But before you head out shopping, make sure that you know how to tell if what you’re buying is the real thing. That is if the real thing is what you want. There’s a piece of exquisite vintage jewelry, and then there’s costume vintage jewelry.
Fine jewelry is designer jewelry made of real gemstones and precious metals, whereas costume jewelry is made out of imitation materials like glass and plastic. The latter is more affordable, and the vintage items tend to last longer than more modern pieces. That being said, if you want the real deal, then you should get a general sense of how to tell the difference.
Things to keep in mind:
- Check for hallmarks – typically a piece will indicate it is gold or silver purity level
- Use a strong magnet (gold and silver shouldn’t attract)
- Gold and silver generally are more substantial than other metals, but this isn’t always a guarantee
What about gemstones? To the untrained eye, it can be difficult to tell the difference between authentic and imitation stones. You may be okay with purchasing replica, but it’s important to know what you’re paying for and what you’re getting so that you can adequately care for it.
Some tips for how to tell if a gemstone is real or an imitation include:
- Imitations may look like they have a pitted or uneven surface like an orange peel
- Others may have swirl lines inside called “flow lines”
- It’s common for imitations to have large, round gas bubbles inside them
- Reproductions usually feel lighter than authentic stones
Without knowing what to look for before heading out to shop vintage, you may end up with fake pieces and paying way more than you should have. If your gut is telling you that the item doesn’t look right (for whatever reason) don’t get pressured into buying it. Come back later after you’ve done some research first.
New and Continuing Trends
Now that you’ve been warned about the presence of fake or imitation jewelry, it’s time to talk about what’ll be trending this year.
Thick gold chains for both neck and wrists were in style in 2019 and will likely continue to be so in 2021. They’re not hard to find used, either, and typically it’s easy to tell whether or not they are made of real gold (should be substantial).
These chunky chains are high for winter wear as they stand out among sweaters and jackets, and you won’t forget you’re wearing something. They also make great statement pieces, so you can’t go wrong committing to a set as they are fairly versatile as well.
You could also go for a smaller gold chain with a large chunky pendant – something with a pop of color.
Rings are also bold and beautiful, with large stones taking center stage. When it comes to the gemstones being used, think bright and dark colors like sapphire, emerald, and especially black onyx.
Mix and match large and small rings and create a clustered look on your fingers to harken back to the 90s and before that the 70s. Remember Phoebe from friends? You’ll be channeling her look of hippy that hangs out at coffee shops and plays the guitar.
Earrings are seeing much the same with significant gold and silver hoops. You could opt for smaller, daintier circles as well. Pearls are also making a comeback in either small rings or dangling sets of gems.
Long and elegant dangle or drop earrings are also starting to swing back into favor. Tassels, geometric shapes, teardrops, and chains are popular choices depending on your personal preference and style. Think about the 80s and 90s when shopping at your favorite vintage hotspots, and you’re sure to find something that’s stylish this year.
In general, big, bold, and chunky appears to be continuing into 2021. When accessorizing with your vintage pieces, make sure you don’t go overboard with too many. If you’re wearing a chunky chain necklace, don’t wear a turtleneck or something with a frilly neckline – keep it simple.
Also, always make sure to put on your jewelry after you put your clothes on and take them off before you get undressed. That is a general rule that you should do all the time, but with chunky jewelry, you want to be extra careful that it doesn’t get caught on your clothes.
Where to Find Vintage Jewellery
If you’re not sure where to buy vintage jewelry, try taking a look at your local consignment shops or thrift stores. It’ll take a bit of exploring and patience, but you never know what you might find. There are also online retailers, but make sure you check their reputation first before making a purchase.
You could also look for vintage jewelry at estate sales or auction houses. Your local newspaper will have ads about where and when these sales are taking place, and often also provide a list of the items for sale. Purchasing from estate sales and auctions is a great way to guarantee authenticity, and the pieces also usually come with a certificate of authentication.
Ready to do some vintage jewelry shopping? Keep your eyes out for gold chains, funky hoops, large colorful pendants, and for gold and silver rings with large, dark stones like onyx, emerald, sapphire, or ruby. But most importantly, find something that speaks to you – that’s the beauty of vintage jewelry, after all: every piece has a story to tell.