What do you need to know before buying antique jewelry? Whether you're on the hunt for gold, silver, diamond, or other treasures from the past, take a look at the questions you need to ask before you invest in an antique piece.
Is the Item an Actual Antique?
The word antique is often used interchangeably with vintage. But this doesn't mean these two types of jewelry items are the same. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) defines an antique as an item that is over 100 years old. This means a 50-year-old ring may look like it's from another era—but it's not an antique. Instead, this type of jewelry is considered vintage.
If you're still not sure whether your would-be investment item is an actual antique, ask the jeweler for more information on the item's age. This can help you to determine the category the ring, necklace, bracelet, or bauble fits into.
What Is the Provenance of the Item?
The provenance of a piece of jewelry is the story behind the item. From the French provenir or "to come from," the provenance can help you to determine whether the item is an actual antique and learn more about the authenticity of what you're buying.
Anyone could claim that an item is an antique heirloom that's worth a small fortune. But does this mean the ring, necklace, or other piece of jewelry is the real deal? The provenance can help you to answer this question. Along with the age, the provenance can tell you who owned the item and who created or designed it. This can add to the piece's overall value or make it more valuable to you.
The value of an antique piece doesn't always revolve around numbers. If the story behind the item reveals a rich history that touches your heart or is personally important to you, the piece will gain value in your eyes.
What Is the Item Made From?
You know more about the age of the item and the story behind it. Now it's time to take the next step and look at the physical attributes of the piece. Before you invest in an antique, ask the seller what it's made from; this could include the type of metal (such as gold or silver) and the gemstones.
This question could lead to other, more specific, questions. You may want to learn more about the number of carats in a gold ring, the cut of a diamond, or the type of setting the designer chose.