Tips on how to tell if your jewellery is vintage

help on how to tell if your jewellery is genuine real vintage not modern

Loving REAL vintage!

Genuine vintage jewellery is in massive demand at the moment, and rightly so.  It’s got character, is often amazingly beautiful and well made, and of course almost no one else will own your unique piece!

As with anything that becomes fashionable, you’ll always get sellers and store owners trying to cash in on the trend.  While there is of course nothing wrong with this, it can become a problem if they describe their jewellery as vintage when it isn’t.  In fact at the moment I’m really disappointed at the amount of jewellery I’m seeing online that is being described as simply ‘vintage’, when on closer inspection it is modern ‘vintage style’ or a marriage of new jewellery with salvaged vintage bits and pieces attached to it.

Here are my tips to make sure you’re buying genuine, real vintage jewellery.

1.  ‘Antiqued’ gold tone is usually modern.  You know the colour I mean – that bronzed and slightly dappled dark gold plating that’s really popular at the moment.  Dark antiqued gold plating has been used in the past (especially on circa 1920s to 1940s Czechslovakian/ Bohemia region jewellery though this isn’t very commonly seen). If you’re not sure then email the seller for clarification of age.

vintage 1980s bronze brown celtic scottish agate bar glass brooch jewellery

Modern antiqued gold

2.  Plastic rhinestones are cheap modern alternatives to glass, and have been used in jewellery since the 1980s. Tap rhinestones on your teeth to see what they are made from.  Glass has a cold hard high pitched clink, while plastic is warm and soft, and makes a much duller sounding click.

3.  Gunmetal colour, ie dark shiny pewter colour metal is generally modern, though absolute matte black metal was occasionally used in vintage jewellery.

mixed lot vintage gunmetal japanned silver tone chains jewellery making

Modern gunmetal chains

4. Cute kitsch pendants on simple chains are very popular at the moment,and are sometimes advertised as simply ‘vintage’.  These are usually modern made, not proper genuine vintage jewellery.  A seller may be using old parts taken from vintage jewellery (which is fine and can be really beautifully done), but they should make this clear in both the title and description of the jewellery.  Jewellery like this is correctly called ‘vintage inspired‘…’vintage recycled‘ ….’vintage reworked‘ or ‘vintage style‘ etc…..not just ‘vintage’.

vintage style envelope and love letter pendant necklace charm

Describing modern items as simply vintage? Do stop.

I’ve actually seen a seller describe their modern jewellery (which happens to have a little piece of vintage jewellery stuck onto it) as simply ” ‘vintage handmade necklace”. I understand completely that sellers need to make money, and want to get to the top of jewellery searches in Google search engine for vintage jewellerty.  However, surely this kind of description can’t be right?  How would this seller feel if they’d bought a ‘vintage handmade’ Art Deco wardrobe, only to find out it’s a modern wardrobe with Art Deco handles stuck on it?

5.  Genuine vintage jewellery is generally unique, which is why it is so sought after.  If you see words such as ‘limited stock on this item‘ it will not be authentic vintage jewellery.

6.  Always read the ‘about me’ or ‘about us’ page of a website.  Who is it that you are buying from?  Are they experienced vintage jewellery dealers?  Do you get a feel for their love of genuine vintage jewellery?

7.  If the description of a jewellery item only says ‘vintage’ and doesn’t give an actual approximate date to the item (eg made circa 1950-60s, or made circa late 19th century) then be a little wary, and email the seller for a date to the item.

Hope this helps you find your perfect piece of real vintage jewellery.

If you’re  a real vintage seller, what are your tips for buying vintage jewellery? (other than shopping at your fabulous shop of course 🙂



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