Vintage Vs Antique Jewellery – What’s the Difference?

Without an expert eye, identifying the differences between antique and vintage jewellery can seem too subtle or detailed to notice. In practice, the definitions we, as experts, use – whether vintage, antique, or estate – will help date older pieces of exclusive and fine jewellery. Yet, understanding these differences is key in unlocking the hidden value of jewellery.  

When you’re navigating the market for that perfect piece of jewellery, it helps to know exactly what you’re looking at. From carat to quality, down to design quirks, knowing whether a piece of jewellery is vintage or antique can change its value dramatically. However, these terms are often used interchangeable. On closer inspection, are they actually the same?  

What Is the Difference Between Vintage and Antique Jewellery?

On the market, the words “antique” or “vintage” have the power to change the perception and value of a piece of jewellery. Both these words allude to mystery, history and years gone by, enticing prospective buyers. But what is the difference between vintage and antique jewellery? 

Vintage Jewellery  

The term vintage generally refers to anything from a past era and can also be used to describe a certain style or fashion of jewellery. Vintage is used by experts to define jewellery from approximately 30 to 100 years old. There are certain eras that might be considered ‘vintage’, specifically because of popular demand and a unique sense of style. The 1980s, for example, is sometimes referred to as a vintage era.

With its fashionable and versatile reputation, vintage jewellery items are highly wearable and complement a range of contemporary outfits and styles. Brands such as Tiffany & Co or Cartier are popular examples of vintage and desirable designers.  

Examples of vintage jewellery can be found in recent eras, such as: 

Antique Jewellery

Unlike vintage pieces, antique is the technical definition for jewellery that is over 100 years old. Antiques are associated with a superior quality of craftmanship, better materials, and market rarity and exclusivity. For these reasons, antique jewellery has great desirability on the market.  

Antique jewellery captures a sense of handcrafted luxury and timelessness, reminiscent with eras gone by that were opulent and extravagant with their craftmanship. This allure can mean that antiques are greatly valued on the market and beyond.

Antique jewellery can refer to certain eras, including:

Restored Jewellery

Many antique and vintage jewellery items on the market today have been restored or repaired to some degree, which can lead to questions about its authenticity as truly ‘vintage’ or ‘antique’. It is widely accepted, however, that at least 50% of the original piece must be intact in order to earn credibility as either vintage or antique.  

Antique vs Vintage Jewellery: Which Is More Expensive? 

Antique jewellery is much older than vintage and is, therefore, often rarer and more exclusive. As such, antique jewellery is usually the more expensive of the two. Certain antique items are too valuable to be worn and may be kept on display or safely locked away.  

Older jewellery is associated with higher-quality materials and more detailed, precise craftsmanship. Unlike contemporary jewellery, both antiques and vintage enjoy a reputation for being timeless and effortlessly stylish.   

Vintage vs Antique Engagement Rings

There are a number of attractions of vintage and antique engagement rings, including their memorability, uniqueness, luxury and mystique. If jewellery has the power to tell stories, then engagement rings are full of excitement and mystery.  

Yet, choosing between the two – vintage versus antique – is a matter of personal taste and preferences. Both styles are associated with craftsmanship, sustainability and variety. At The Chelsea Bijouterie, we believe that your engagement ring should be every bit as thoughtful as it is stylish and everlasting.  

Choosing Between Antique and Vintage Jewellery

It’s no small feat to prioritise the most important features of antique or vintage jewellery. Jewellery from the past is about personal choices, whether you’re buying it as a fond memory, or as a lasting gift for a loved one. From the style of a bygone era, down to the stories of the past, antiques and vintage jewellery can be powerful.  

The Georgian period to the Art Deco period, and everything in-between, inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes – including different metals and gems. There is a vast range of antique or vintage items to be discovered online at The Chelsea Bijouterie.