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10 Reasons to Buy Antique & Vintage Jewellery

In the UK, preloved or ‘old’ objects have long been considered to be as valuable as modern ones, if not more so. Find out why this is particularly true with antique and vintage jewellery...

As a culture, we are fascinated by objects that belong to a bygone era. Classic cars, first edition books, Old Master paintings and stately homes passed down through the generations are all considered to be significant, beautiful and valuable.

The British upper classes are renowned for prizing a carefully patched up, beautifully tailored suit that used to belong to a great grandfather far above a new one. “They don’t make them like they used to”, goes the saying. And it’s often true.

Jewellery is no exception. Aside from the extraordinary beauty and refined elegance of old jewellery, there is something magical about a piece of jewellery with a past and it is a very sound investment, to boot.

Here are our top 10 reasons to buy antique and vintage jewellery:

1. It is irresistable

For those who love and collect jewellery, there is a romantic, mystical beauty to vintage and antique jewellery which is virtually impossible to match these days. Very often hand-made by skilled craftsmen with extraordinary attention to detail, the subtle sparkle and old world techniques are unparalleled by modern design.

2. It is excellent value

Buying antique, vintage and second-hand jewellery is VAT-exempt, which means you should automatically pay 20% less than the equivalent piece made new.

There are also no manufacturing costs to factor into the price. With old jewellery you are buying the same quality gemstones and materials without paying a premium for the seller’s overheads.

What’s more, many antique jewellery dealers are small businesses which sell via stalls, showrooms or online, saving on expensive retail costs. This tends to be reflected in the price of their jewellery.

….And it will retain that value

Just as when buying a new car, you pay a ‘new’ price for new, modern jewellery. That purchase value then drops as soon as you buy it simply because it is no longer new. With antique and vintage jewellery the piece has already gone from ‘new’ to ‘old’ before you buy it so its purchase value remains the same.

In the same way that classic cars are always in demand and retain their value, so antique jewellery will always be collectable and desirable and retain theirs.

3. The quality is better

Today, most modern jewellery is cast. Antique and vintage jewellery was almost always hand-made or at the very least (in the case of newer, vintage jewellery) hand-finished.

Even in high-end bespoke modern pieces, it’s almost impossible to find the same level of quality and workmanship as we regularly see in old jewellery. In the past, jewellery was made by highly skilled artisans who took a long time creating bespoke pieces for rich clients. As a result, the workmanship is often more refined than even the best jewellery made today.

4. It is more sustainable

It takes significant resources to mine gemstones and precious metals which makes it hard to produce jewellery in a truly environmentally friendly way. Buying antique and vintage jewellery makes you a conservator rather than a consumer.

Conflict diamonds (also known as “blood diamonds”) only came into existence in the 1980s with civil war in Africa. Diamond jewellery created before this time are untarnished by this unpleasant and badly regulated controversy.

And finally, most antique or vintage jewellery dealers are one-man-bands or small teams, so buying old jewellery supports small businesses as opposed to big corporations.

5. It is unique

Jewellery was not mass-produced (or even widely available to the masses) until recently so it is highly unlikely that you will ever find a duplicate of a piece of antique or vintage jewellery. Identical matches were more or less impossible.

When it comes to antique jewellery, many pieces will have been created as a one-off by a skilled craftsman for a member of the upper classes.

6. It has a story

There is something very romantic about jewellery from another era, with a story to tell.  With a piece of antique or vintage jewellery, we become the next chapter of its sparkling history.

7. It’s authentic

It’s easy to find jewellery created in the style of a bygone era, but nothing beats a piece that was actually made in that time, using the techniques, material and craftsmanship of the day. It’s a bit like having a Monet replica print on your wall instead of the real thing.

8. It’s well made

If a piece of antique or vintage jewellery has made it intact and in good condition to this day, chances are it’s extremely well made and – with proper care – will remain robust for a long time to come.

9. It’s a style statement

Anybody can go to a well known jewellery brand and choose a piece of modern jewellery. To go out of your way to track down a beautiful piece of antique or vintage jewellery that you fall in love with requires personal style.

10. The hunt is thrilling

Half the fun of buying and collecting old jewellery is the hunt. Knowing where to look and what to look for. Learning to recognise old styles and techniques and understanding the context of each era is a rich, exciting experience in itself.

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