Five tips for buying vintage jewellery online


Those in the know have been secretly adorning themselves with vintage jewellery for years, but for anyone new to the vintage world, things can be a little daunting.  Here are five quick tips to get you started!


1. Always go for good quality.  Rhinestones should all be present and clear (none missing), clasps should work properly and be secure,  beads shouldn’t be damaged and pearls should never be flaky or peeling. Borrow the antique dealer motto – buy the best quality you can afford. On the other hand, vintage items will rarely look in brand-new condition – they are over 20 years old and have been used, often on many occasions. General wear is acceptable, though serious damage such as missing stones or broken beads isn’t.

Tips and ideas on how to buy and cameo where to start buying genuine vintage and antique jewellery jewelry

This beautiful cameo is sadly damaged – it has a bad crack down one side. Buy the best you can afford and avoid damaged vintage jewellery like this.

2.  Shop around. There is no set vintage industry standard to prices, and they can vary wildly for the exact same item. Some dealers have huge overheads and costs which they need to re-coup, so charge for their jewellery finds accordingly. Other dealers have virtually no overheads so can give you a real bargain.  

Tips and ideas on how to buy and where to start buying genuine vintage and antique jewellery jewelry paste glass

The rhinestones on this beautiful 1950s necklace have yellowed slightly with age after 60 years – this is quite normal for vintage rhinestone jewellery. A vintage jewellery piece has a history and life, which you are adding to while it’s in your possession

3. If you’re on a very low budget, then possibly the best place to buy vintage is Ebay.  However, it does have  drawbacks for buyers who are new or not very experienced to vintage; there are masses of fakes or poorly described jewellery on there – what may be described as a 1960s chunky necklace can sometimes be a 2 year old high street copy.  Check out the sellers feedback and About Me page to make sure they are true vintage jewellery enthusiasts.

Tips and ideas on how to buy and where to start buying genuine vintage and antique jewellery jewelry Swarovski bridal

This necklace was advertised to me on Ebay as from the early Art Deco 1920s period, but I knew that it was made after the 1950s. Why? Because it had a colourful coating called ‘AB’ on the beads (you can just make out the AB rainbow lustre), a glass coating process only invented in the 1950s by Swarovski.

4.   Always check that a vintage jewellery website is up to date (eg, check their social media pages – when was the last time they posted anything?), has a proper street address you can contact if there is a problem, has good descriptions/ photos and has a friendly open feel. Check their returns policy too – you may find your jewellery doesn’t fit or look right once you’ve received it.  Do they happily accept returns? Or instead do you get the feeling that it will be a pain to sort things out if you want to send an item back?

5. Watch out for the use of the word ‘vintage’, and fully read the description – real vintage jewellery should always have a rough guide to it’s age, ie ‘circa 1970s’ or similar.  Too many companies, including high street ones, are using the word ‘vintage’ out of context (ie as a description of style rather than an actual pre-1990s item).  It’s very misleading – please don’t be caught out.  Be safe, and buy from a dedicated proper vintage store from someone who knows and loves the genre.