The Difference Between Estate, Vintage and Antique Jewelry

It may seem the terms “estate,” “vintage” and “antique” are used interchangeably when referring to second-hand jewelry, yet each term has its own distinct meaning. In fact, you can easily find out how educated someone is about a piece of jewelry based on how correctly they use these three terms. Read on to learn more about the meaning behind estate, vintage and antique jewelry.

Estate Jewelry

Estate jewelry is a general term that refers to any piece of pre-owned jewelry. Even jewelry that is only a month old qualifies as estate if it has been purchased and worn. Though the term “estate jewelry” does apply to both vintage and antique jewelry, is only used when referring to a piece that is less than 20 years old. Estate jewelry can also be a reproduction of another piece.

Vintage Jewelry

Vintage jewelry refers to any piece that is older than 20 but younger than 100. As you shop estate collections at jewelry stores and estate sales, you’re likely to find quite a few vintage pieces, as jewelry began to be mass produced during the vintage timeframe.

Antique Jewelry

A piece of jewelry can be called “antique” when it is more than 100 years old. Though both “estate” and “vintage” can both technically be used for antique pieces, a reputable jeweler will always use antique for older jewelry to better educate the buyer on the age and value of their piece. While the term “antique” guarantees a piece is at least older than 100, the term “antique style” does not. This could mean the piece is simply a replica, and should not demand the higher price tag of antique jewelry.

Why does it matter?

By understanding the meanings behind these three common terms, you can better understand the value of the jewelry already in your collection, as well as the pieces you try on as you shop. You will also be better equipped to spot jewelers without adequate knowledge to price and sell estate, vintage and antique pieces, and ultimately, find a jeweler you can trust to show you authentic, accurately-priced, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Though the terms “estate,” “vintage” and “antique” are often mistaken for each other, the meaning behind each is quite straight-forward and simple. If you’d like to learn more about second-hand jewelry, plan a visit to Sissy’s Log Cabin. As one of the region’s renowned estate, vintage and antique jewelry dealers, our selection is second-to-none, and our jewelry experts are all equipped with the knowledge and experience to give you the story behind each piece you try on. Visit one of our locations in Pine Bluff, Little Rock, Jonesboro or Memphis to shop.