Vintage jewelry has a timeless appeal but finding authentic pieces at affordable prices can be intimidating. Vintage fine jewelry comes in many forms, whether that be an antique engagement ring or a cameo to match the one of your grandmother's that you lost. Without knowing exactly what you are looking at, you could end up overspending and end up with a major case of buyer's remorse. Find out how and where to buy vintage jewelry like a pro. Here's what you need to do.
1. Avoid Yard Sales at All Costs
Purchasing a piece of second-hand fine vintage jewelry isn't your standard “go to a yard sale and haggle over a $5 bracelet” type of purchase. It takes a bit of skillful hunting in locations where you're likely to stumble across more than one piece. Yard sales aren't conducive to fine jewelry, and it's likely the seller knows less than you about what they're selling.
2. Consider Flea Markets for Treasures
Most cities have at least one flea market. A flea market is basically like a glorified yard sale where various dealers come together to sell their weekly treasures. The difference between a flea market and a yard sale is that there is more of a chance you will find a piece of fine jewelry here. Also, dealers tend to know more about the jewelry they are selling.
Beware though if you choose to shop at a flea market for fine jewelry! You will need to be confident in your ability to tell the difference between gold and gold plated items for starters. This is a great place to find a bargain, but it's also a great place to get ripped off since some dealers may come to a flea market once and then never be spotted again.
3. Use Layaway in Antique Shops
If you are lucky enough to live around some local antique shops, especially ones that specialize in jewelry, this is a great place to shop! Not only are the dealers knowledgeable, they also generally take great pride in their shop. There are more antique shops than there are antique jewelry shops, but both are fun to visit and both offer a chance to score a stunning fine jewelry heirloom.
You will spend more money here than you will at a flea market. To offset the cost, consider using a layaway plan to purchase that fine jewelry heirloom you've always wanted.
4. Take a Trip to an Antique Show
Every year there are large gatherings of antique dealers from across the country who set up in fields and buildings to showcase their collections. Not only are these a lot of fun to travel to, the better shows only allow quality dealers into them, so you are more likely to find a good piece of fine jewelry. Gather some friends, plan a trip, and find some shows worth visiting here.
5. Search the Internet for Deals
Three places that come to mind immediately when it comes to buying vintage jewelry on the internet are Etsy, Ruby Lane, and Ebay in that order. Each is filled with thousands of pieces you could literally spend hours pining over.
Etsy is primarily known for their handmade items so many people forget that almost half of their website is filled with vintage items.
6. Do Your Research then Bid at Auction
This recommendation is for the more experienced antique hunter, since high dealer premiums apply, and it is really easy to overpay on items. The dynamic of an in-person auction is even more intense than the online counterpart of Ebay, being it all happens very fast leaving little time to think. It is important to go early and personally inspect any item you plan to bid on very thoroughly to make note of any condition issues. Learn auction best practices here.
Happy Hunting! Now you know some of the best places to shop for vintage fine jewelry. Remember to always have a jeweler's loupe handy as well as ask any dealer lots of questions. If you don't feel comfortable with the dealer for any reason, avoid making the purchase!