Understanding what classifies an earring or ring as vintage first requires a brief understanding of the history of jewellery, vintage jewellers, and vintage influence.
While the standard definition of vintage jewellery is any piece that was made in the last 100 years, it also involves the piece having been originally owned, sold by, or traded by another family member, friend, or in some cases a specialty shop. Plenty of vintage pieces of jewellery such as original engagement rings, brooches, and earrings, can be found through careful research and the know-how will lead you to trusted, reputable dealers like Berganza Vintage Jewellers.
What’s Vintage and What’s Not?
Some of the most original, beautiful pieces of vintage jewellery originate from the Art Deco, Modern, and Retro eras between the early 1900’s into the 1960’s.
Before reading on, it’s important that you understand what “vintage-inspired” means. Vintage-inspired jewellery is typically a brand-new piece, and while inspired by an older vintage design, it may or may not be made with valuable or expensive gemstones, pearls, and gold or silver trim.
The most popular vintage-inspired jewellery is that which is made by using antique gemstones or originally, large cut diamonds. Some of these pieces and styles include influences like the Old European Cut. While these are original, vintage pieces or stones, they are often replaced with a new setting to reinforce the integrity of the original piece. Therefore, remakes or pieces not using original vintage cuts, metals, or diamonds are not typically considered to be an official “vintage” piece.
The History of Vintage Costume Jewellery
Originally created in the 1920’s, the term vintage costume jewellery applies to the many (larger) jewellery or pieces that are usually not made with precious stones or expensive metals. Rather, they were designed with (cheaper) alternative plastic material such as Bakelite. If not Bakelite, many of these pieces were and continue to be made with other modern, plastic resin techniques.
Through the era and the influence of Art Deco to Retro, during the 1930’s to late 1940’s, abstract jewellery was most popular, and along with it came futurism, abstract, Bauhaus, and cubism styles. Each of these further contributed to the “vintage” design.
Some of the more expensive, and even popular names today like Eisenberg continue to create expensive pieces and vintage costume jewellery using fine stones and Cartier diamonds. These pieces are arguably some of the most sophisticated necklaces, brooches, and rings around. Many of these pieces are still seen today amongst the richest of the elite, and in rare instances amongst those who have inherited items as a family heirloom.
Names to Know Before You Go Vintage Jewellery Shopping
British vintage jewellers (and designers) like Nicky Butler and Simon Wilson used the influence of antique jewellery to adopt and evolve what is known today as vintage jewellery. These pieces include the use of (coloured) gemstones, pearls, crystals, and Austrian rhinestones – often set with base gun metal. These were made available both in silver or gold polishing, dependent upon the style, theme, or request.
Being two of the founding jewellers of vintage jewellery designs and styles, Butler and Nick began their work in the 1960’s and still continue to develop, design, and influence vintage jewellery today.