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How to Buy Estate Jewelry: Tips for Beginner Collectors

Written by Anna Currell
July 17, 2023

Collectors and enthusiasts alike both seek out estate jewelry for its rich history and timeless allure, but you don’t have to be an expert to get in the game. Shopping for estate jewelry can be an exciting journey through each piece’s unique story and distinct charm. As a beginner estate jewelry collector, there’s a lot to learn! Here are all the essential tips you need to learn how to shop for and buy estate jewelry with confidence.

Understand Estate Jewelry

Before diving into the buying process, it’s important to understand what qualifies as estate jewelry. Simply put, estate jewelry refers to previously owned pieces — the pieces can be any age. The general understanding about how to tell the difference between antique, vintage, and estate jewelry is that antique jewelry is 100 years old or more, vintage jewelry is between 50 and 100 years old, and estate jewelry refers to any jewelry that has been previously owned. You can usually buy estate jewelry from private collections or auctions. These items often exhibit exceptional craftsmanship, fine gemstones, and antique or vintage designs.

Educate Yourself

To become a knowledgeable estate jewelry collector, invest some time in educating yourself about various aspects of jewelry. Learn about the different types of gemstones, their quality factors, and how to assess their authenticity. Understand the basics of precious metals, such as gold, silver, and platinum, and how they impact the value of a piece. Familiarize yourself with popular eras and styles of jewelry design, such as Art Deco, Victorian, or Retro, to develop a discerning eye and make informed decisions. Research renowned jewelry designers, their signatures, and hallmarks, as the label or designer can significantly affect the worth and desirability of an item. There are lots of great online resources for this kind of research, like the Gemological Institute of America or (ahem) our very own Quick Jewelry Repairs blog. 


Determine Your Budget

It’s essential to establish a budget before delving into the world of estate jewelry. Determine the amount you are willing to invest and keep it realistic. Remember that rarity, craftsmanship, and historical significance can significantly impact the price of a piece of jewelry. Establishing a budget will not only help you narrow down your options but also prevent you from overspending and regretting your purchase later.

Find Reputable Sources

Seek out reputable vendors to ensure the authenticity and quality of the estate jewelry you’re buying. Look for established jewelry stores, antique dealers, or online platforms that specialize in estate jewelry or have dedicated teams in the estate category. Research the seller’s credentials, customer reviews, and certifications to ensure you’re in good hands. Attending auctions or estate sales in person can provide unique opportunities to find exceptional pieces, but exercise caution and do as much research as you can beforehand. It would be disappointing to spend a lot of money on an item that wasn’t authentic just because it looked nice on the spot. 

Inspect and Evaluate

When examining estate jewelry, either online or in-person, take your time to inspect each piece carefully. Look for any signs of wear, damage, or past repairs. Evaluate the condition of any gemstones featured in the piece, noting any scratches, chips, or discolorations. Pay attention to the settings, clasps, and prongs — they should be secure and well-maintained. Seek the assistance of a professional jeweler or gemologist if you are unsure about the authenticity or quality of a particular piece.


Consider Personal Preference

While it’s important to appreciate the historical and artistic value of estate jewelry, it’s equally worthwhile to choose pieces that resonate with your personal taste. Look for designs that align with your style. Whether you are drawn to delicate filigree or bold Art Nouveau motifs, select pieces that reflect your individuality. 

Documentation and Certification

Whenever possible, be sure to acquire proper documentation and certification for your estate jewelry. This includes certificates of authenticity, appraisals, or historical records associated with the piece. This kind of documentation aids in insurance, resale, or future appraisal purposes.

As you embark on your journey as an estate jewelry collector, remember that each piece has a story to tell and deserves to be cherished. To ensure that your jewelry fits perfectly, trust our team of experts at Quick Jewelry Repairs. We offer a range of services to tailor your new estate jewelry to your specifications. Whether you need ring resizing to achieve the ideal fit, necklace lengthening or shortening to suit your style, or bracelet adjustments to enhance the comfort and elegance of your pieces, our skilled artisans are here to help.

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