The terms antique and vintage are often used interchangeably, and thus incorrectly; if they meant the same thing they would be the same word and a single term, after all.
Then, to help you avoid making this error and most essentially clear up the confusion as to what antique is and when something enters the realm of being vintage, here is an explanation of both terms and what they mean in the jewellery buying and selling world.
What is Antique Jewellery?
Antique jewellery is, to put it in no uncertain terms, a term used to accurately and concisely describe any piece of jewellery which can verifiably be dated as more than 100 years old.
Because modern hallmarking did not become a legal matter until less than fifty years ago and in many countries outside of Europe is still not a matter of legal necessity, authenticating an actual antique or determining whether a so-called antique is in fact the real deal requires an expert in most cases. This mean that for non-experts buying or wishing to buy genuine antique jewellery doing so should only ever be done via a reputable and well established antiques dealer, jeweller’s or specialist auction house to avoid disappoint and potentially losing a lot of money.
To view a vast and eclectic collection of genuine antique jewellery all rather neatly organised according to the period and era in which it was made and also gain access to a blog chockfull of antique jewellery related news and articles, head over to the Heritage Antique Jewellery website.
What is Vintage Jewellery?
The term ‘vintage’ when used to describe jewellery is slightly more slippery than the term ‘antique’ as the perimeters of what is and what is not yet considered vintage are less fined.
Suffice to say that whilst there is no definite answer, the general consensus amongst purveyors, sellers and collectors or so-called ‘vintage’ jewellery items is that any jewellery item predating 1980 but not old enough to yet be described as antique can legitimately be described as vintage. Meanwhile and more generally, many people use the term ‘vintage’ when describing jewellery to refer specifically to the style of an item rather than its age and this is perhaps why so much confusion around what actually vintage means has arisen.
For a more in depth discussion and not entirely humourless insight into the matter of what is and what isn’t describable as vintage, and the numerous way by which the term is used, the Ebay website currently features the article: Defining Vintage vs. Antique Jewelry / What is Vintage?, which is well written and most importantly addresses the problem of defining the term ‘vintage’ head on.
Meanwhile, to view and purchase vintage jewellery items and as well learn what a specialist dealer of ‘vintage’ jewellery requires from jewellery pieces in order to sell them under the vintage label, head straight over to the Sweet & Spark Curated Vintage jewelry website.