Antique, Vintage or Estate?
It’s important to know the difference between the three categories. Antique jewellery is anything over 100 years old. Vintage jewellery would be anything from 1905 to the 2000s, while estate jewellery refers to pieces coming directly from the estate of a deceased person, very often part of a significant collection.
Know What You Like
Always buy the best you can afford. Choose quality over quantity, and take the time to learn about jewellery and the evolution of styles. It also helps to familiarise yourself with retail and auction prices.
Jewellery fairs like Baselworld in March, Paris Biennale in September, and the Masterpiece London in June are the best places to educate yourself on the ins and outs of vintage jewellery. Take advantage of chances to see great jewellery around the world. In fact, almost every country now has its own jewellery and gem fair.
Wear or Keep?
Start doing your research on the price range of your desired pieces and decide whether you are buying for value preservation or something you’d want to wear. From there, you could either buy at retail from your local jeweller, or head to an auction house like Sotheby’s where you can see the market set its own price for every piece offered, and how much people are willing to pay for various pieces. It’s a very transparent process.
The market is constantly renewing itself, but some have stood the test of time, especially vintage signed pieces from the Belle Époque period, Cartier’s Art Deco pieces from the ’20s and ’30s, and iconic Van Cleef & Arpels pieces from the ’50s.
Tricks of Evaluation
Value of jewellery is usually determined by design, brand, period, craftsmanship, and quality of gemstones. For period jewellery, preservation condition is most important, while links to nobility would add value to the piece. The one that ticks all the boxes? The Hutton-Mdivani, the greatest jadeite bead necklace in the world sold at USD27.44 million to the Cartier Collection by Sotheby’s in 2014.