Antique Jewelry

Do you know the basic rule for buying jewelry? Sure, materials, workmanship, designer all matter very much, but the most important rule is – I love it!

Jewelry is all about the intrinsic beauty of an object and how it makes us feel. Humans first developed a need for personal adornment thousands of years ago and we still love a delicate pair of earrings, a gorgeous bracelet, and let’s not even talk about rings, most women feel naked without their favorite rings.

Traditionally, the term antique refers to objects that are over 100 years old, but in the jewelry trade the rules are not as strict and a ring that was crafted only some 80 years ago will also qualify as antique, rather than vintage. Were you ever fascinated by the roaring 20s? Then you’re lucky indeed lucky as you can buy a bracelet from that era and call it antique. Art Deco jewelry made in the 1920s and 1930s is one of the most popular antique jewelry styles today. If you’re interested in antique jewelry you should also check out the eye-catching designs from the Edwardian, Georgian or Victorian era.

How much is a piece of jewelry worth?

Exactly how much you’re willing to pay for it. Actually, no, there are some things you should consider before forking out a lot of money. First of all look at the materials – gold, silver, platinum, as well as the stones – an aquamarine blue stone might look wonderful, but it’s certainly worth less than a diamond.

Yet, even more important than the materials is the workmanship – a plain silver band ring will never be worth the same as a filigree one, which required a lot of work.

And, as always, designers matter, especially if you’re considering buying antique jewelry as a form of investment. You’ll never make a bad investment when buying an outstanding work of art created by one of the masters in the field Lalique, Castellani, Fabergé, Giuliano or Cartier.

Many people turn to the antique market when they’re looking for an engagement ring because you want to make your loved one feel special and unique. What better way to say that than with a white-gold diamond-encrusted ring from the Art Deco era?

Another market in high demand is that of antique bracelets, from Victorian gold bracelets decorated with opal, agate or turquoise stones to Edwardian diamond bracelets. Or how about a geometric modernist panel bracelet from the Art Deco period? Speaking of which, did you know that bangles are staging a comeback? Maybe you want just one stylish bracelet on your arm, but then maybe it’s not enough – this is where the bangles come in – a white silver engraved bangle from the Victorian era is big enough to catch the eye, yet elegant and simple.

So far we’ve seen what you need to consider when buying antique jewelry – materials, craftsmanship, designer. Obviously, buy from a reputable dealer and ask for an expert opinion when in doubt. And one other thing, don’t buy something just because it’s fashionable at the moment – one year it will be about brooches, while the next one big roped necklaces might be all the rage. Fashion comes and goes so you’re better off trusting your instinct and buying something you like. A diamond ring or a gold bracelet will never go out of style, and, as far as antiques are concerned, their value can only increase.

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Vintage Handbags

Nothing says more about a woman than the handbag she’s carrying. The most elegant outfit can be ruined by the wrong handbag, which might be too small or too big, too flashy or simply plain. No wonder women spend considerable time and money looking for the perfect handbag.

Vintage handbags are the most sought after as decades ago companies were more selective about the materials they used and, let’s be honest, craftsmanship was valued more than today.

The most appealing aspect of a vintage handbag is its uniqueness. If you manage to get your hands of an item made 20 or 30 years ago, you can be certain no one will be carrying a similar one at a party or a reception. You will stand out of the crowd even in a room where the rest of the women boast expensive novelty items. A vintage handbag is not about money, but about class. What it says about you is that you’re a connoisseur, you know all about good quality bags, you’re a discernible consumer able to distinguish between something that’s merely expensive and a piece of excellent craftsmanship.

Who doesn’t dream of having a vintage Hermes Birkin from the late 1980s, just one piece you can be sure was handmade from real, maybe even exotic leather. Why settle for a mass-produced item, when you could have a Birkin bag, made in France, hand-sewn, painted and polished over several days. And all that work just for you!

Did you know that the Birkin bag was created in 1983? The company’s chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas, happened to be seated on a plane right next to famous actress Jane Birkin, who complained she needed a bigger bag. The first Birkin was made for her and this is how the world’s most famous luxury handbags’ line was born.

Now, you might be lucky and discover a real treasure forgotten in your mother’s closet, but not everything that is old is automatically precious.

Here are a few things to consider before buying a vintage bag.


Whenever you find an item listed as vintage, you need to do some research and see if a particular brand really did make such handbags 30 years ago and try to find elements to confirm its authenticity. Designer provenance matters and the most valuable brands on the vintage market are Hermes, Chanel, and Gucci. For instance, you can look for the signature saddle stitching to test a Hermes Birkin bag authenticity.

Condition of the bag

You have to expect some wear and tear signs on a vintage item, like the rubbed edges on the bottom. You’ll probably want one that looks as good as new, but should you find one in poorer condition, remember that a good leather expert can work wonders with it.


Designer handbags will cost you a pretty penny, no doubt about that, but you can also be extremely lucky and find really good deals. Ah, well, price is always relative and mere money shouldn’t stand between a woman and a handbag she falls in love with, right?


We all know how hard it is to find certain luxury items and in the vintage market scarcity is even more of a problem. If you happen to find a handbag you like, don’t hesitate too much or someone else will snatch it up.

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Vintage Clothing

What goes around comes around, especially when we’re talking about fashion. Nothing is really new in the fashion industry, so why buy brand new items that imitate a style that was popular 25 years ago when you can buy the real deal and feel authentic?

Shopping for vintage clothing requires a lot of patience, but can be extremely rewarding when you score some unique pieces and discover the real history behind the clothes that your favorite brands make today.

Vintage clothes hunting has never been easier as it is today when much of the business is moving online, whereas a decade ago you had to rely on the few brick-and-mortar vintage shops in your town. Now, the choices are endless, which can also be bewildering so you need to know how to avoid a few traps.

Can you really wear that?

When you’re browsing page after page full of funny, funky bright-colored items it’s so tempting to hit the Buy button, but before you do that you have to consider the wearability. An oversized sweater with a cool logo might look just perfect, but can you wear it at the office? Does it match the skirts in your wardrobe? If it’s something you’re going to wear once, just for the novelty effect you might want to reconsider.

The best strategy is to figure out beforehand how a certain piece fits with the clothes you already own. As a rule, you should always strive to combine one vintage item with an outfit comprised of your regular clothes. Dressing vintage from head to toe is not something you can easily pull off.

When in doubt, stick with the classics – you can never go wrong with a cardigan, a cashmere sweater, or a little black dress, and they are pretty easy to wear.

Know your fabrics

Before you start looking for vintage clothing you should learn a bit about the way clothes used to be made.

Did you know that clothes made before 1960 were usually made from rayon, silk, or taffeta, while items dating from the 1980s are mostly polyester and lycra? At the same time, garments made before the mid-60s had metal zippers, pinked seams, and union labels printed in blue.

Labels are very important if you want to avoid fake vintage. Back in the 1950s manufacturers didn’t bother much with labels, the company name and a logo were considered enough information. In the 1970s, labels started mentioning fabric type and size. Care instructions were added in the 1980s, while the complicated label with information translated in several languages is a thing of the 1990s. Do check if the label on a piece of clothing said to be from the 1980s matches the description.

Know your measures

This is important especially when shopping for vintage clothes online, sizes from the 1990s differ from those we know today. When you go to a traditional store you can pretty much figure it out if they fit, but when you shop online you could try to see if they can offer you the size in inches so you can measure them against an item in your closet.

These are just a few pointers to help you navigate the wonderful world of vintage shopping where you can find so many items that will help you stand out from the crowd.

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Antique and vintage watches

The clothes don’t make the man, but an exclusive watch sure does. Especially an antique or a vintage watch. That’s the mark of a true gentleman. Nobody needs a watch these days, we all got phones to tell the time, but this hasn’t made watches any less popular. Vintage watches are a very hot item – some want to wear them, others just like to collect them, and it is a great investment.

How do you define antique and vintage when it comes to watches?

For an item to qualify as an antique, it has to be at least 100 years old. Think the 1920s! As for vintage, anything that is over 25 years old is good enough.

Serious collectors often set their own rules. For instance, some say only Heuer is vintage, while Tag Heuer, which came out in 1984 doesn’t count as such. Well, that’s bound to change in another few years because time only adds value to vintage and antique pieces.

 If you’re looking for really antique watches from the 17th or 18th century, there’s no chance for you to find something so old on the market.

If you’re really lucky we just might discover a rare gem from the 19th century, maybe a pocket watch with enameled dials or a novelty for that era, the heart-shaped watch. The most precious of that time are those that came with a chronograph mechanism (today’s stopwatch), or moon phases and calendars.

Pocket watches endured until the early years of the 20th century when wire or leather straps appeared. Did you know that the first wristwatch was made for aviator Alberto Santos Durmont in 1904 by Parisian firm Cartier? The watch became known as the ‘Santos’ and is still produced today.

The watch-making industry evolved rapidly after 1920 when the wristwatch became a fashionable item and definitely more accessible. Designs became bolder – some of the antiques from that era are oval, octagonal, square, and even rectangular. The most sought after watches from that time come from makers such as Rolex, Patek Phillippe, Cartier, Jaeger le Coultre, Audemars, Piguet, and Vacheron & Constantin.

These makers dominated the market even after 1950 and pieces from that time are highly collectible. One of the most valuable items from the latter half of the 20th century is the Rolex Submariner, considered a classic among wristwatches.

First launched in 1954, Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner is a line of sports watches, resistant to water and corrosion. The first Royal Submariner watches came with a distinctive oversized crown for winding, which was later replaced by smaller crowns. The later models came with or without a chronometer mechanism and special “shoulders” to protect the winding crown. In the 1960s gilt dials were removed and Rolex switched to white printing, while also adding the date function.

True collectors know all about different makers, models, the year a special function was introduced, how the design of a certain line evolved over the years.

If you’re looking to buy an antique or a vintage watch you will need to study, so that the moment you see a remarkable piece in a store or online you will immediately know its true value.

And if you do find a highly collectible watch, be ready to spring into action, the watch is ticking!

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Vintage furniture

There’s something fascinating about antique furniture. It helps us connect with the past. When you look at a piece of old period furniture, the first thing that strikes your eye is craftsmanship – they don’t make them like they used to do, do they? But it’s much more than that. Maybe the particular piece you just bought doesn’t have historical value, maybe it did not belong to someone famous, but it still has a history. An antique dining room set, for instance. Can you imagine the house or the houses it used to belong to, the people who sat around that table, the stories they told, the birthdays they celebrated, love, anger, grief – when you bought the table, you bought all that and now it’s your turn to add your own part to that history.

Aesthetic and functional

Whether you’re planning on becoming a collector or you’re simply looking for original items to decorate your new home, you need to do some research and learn how to distinguish between mid-century modern, Art Deco and classical furniture. Reading about different periods and styles is a wonderful opportunity to discover new, well, old, things you might like. Maybe you were thinking about buying an antique dresser and suddenly discover an armoire would look much better in the master bedroom. When you buy an antique piece you have to consider both aesthetics and functionality, and when an item meets both criteria, then it is definitely a good investment.

You don’t have to worry about buying a complete set of antique furniture all at once, start with small steps and buy the pieces one at a time. Maybe you only found a couple of Louis XV chairs, it would be a pity not to buy them because you’re missing the table. Grab them and keep looking for that table, and if you happen to discover an ornate gold-framed mirror from the same period buy that too

What to look for when you buy antique furniture?

Obviously, the first thing you need to check for is authenticity. To make sure a certain piece is really Art Deco or mid-century look it up on the Internet and examine pictures of furniture from that era. See if they match.

Vintage pieces should be gently used — not falling apart. Check the structure of the items and make sure it is sound, otherwise restoration works could be quite expensive.

Next, check the finish, the hardware and the legs. Visible signs of normal wear and tear are to be expected, and desirable. On the contrary, you should be suspicious if the finish is shiny, as this indicates the item has been re-varnished.

At the same time, you should check to see if the hardware has been replaced or the legs have been repaired – and, more important, how. If you see glue marks or nails holding the legs in place, this means they have been restored or replaced. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but that might be a good reason to haggle a bit.

Also, make sure the drawers and hinges open and close smoothly. When you’re buying antique chairs or sofas check if they are structured so they can be reupholstered if needed.

It takes a lot of time and patience to furnish a whole house with antique furniture, it’s not like a quick trip to the store to buy a new mattress. But, as many antique lovers already know the hunt is half the fun!

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