Understanding The Difference - Antique & Vintage Jewelry

There are often misconceptions associated with the terms antique and vintage which are frequently used to refer to older pieces of jewelry.

However, there are actually some very significant differences in both of these terms, meaning that they might not necessarily refer to what you might have thought they did.

So lets take a look a closer at the exact meaning of antique and vintage in jewelry terms.

Defining antique

The main difference which distinguishes both of these terminologies is that antique jewelry is classed as a piece of jewelry which is 100 years or more in age.

As highlighted in About Styles article Many pieces from the 1920s are now considered antique, especially those made in the earlier part of the decade. This, of course, means that as time goes on, more and more jewelry items will become antique pieces.

As antique jewelry has the potential to be extremely old and very precious, it may not be regarded as ones everyday jewelry, and is instead saved for special occasions or as a family heirloom.

That said, our antique rings here at Royal Antique Jewelry, some of which date as far back as the 18th Century, do make magnificent engagement or eternity rings.

Defining Vintage

Whereas antique jewelry has to be a minimum of a hundred years old for it to be given the title of antique, vintage jewelry refers to anything which is older than 50 years, but isnt older than 100 years or more.

This consequently means that within time, vintage jewelry can become antique, yet for the time being, vintage jewelry is not as old as antique jewelry.

Vintage jewelry, although has the potential to still be very valuable as it isnt as old as antique jewelry and is, therefore, worn more popularly day-to-day.

Its also important to note that vintage jewelry cannot be made by crafting jewelry using vintage parts such a beads. This would instead be referred to as contemporary jewelry.

Purchasing antique jewelry

If you are looking to purchase an antique piece but are afraid of being misled into buying something which is actually vintage, then here are some of our top tips to follow when purchasing antique jewelry.


When it comes to buying antique jewelry, it will generally be more expensive than it is to purchase vintage. This is, of course, due in part to the age difference of antique in comparison to vintage.

Antique jewelry is much older and therefore, its value is increased. To withstand time, it will also have to have been extremely well-made which is another reason as to why it can be more expensive.

Misleading terminology

When looking to purchase antique jewelry, its very important that you are cautious of the term antique style suggesting that the item isnt in fact as old as you might have thought, and could just be a replica instead.

Check for a hallmark

A great way of checking the validity of an antique is to see if the item contains a hallmark. This is vital to look out for as it will certify the items standard of purity. You could then do some added research online or even obtain advice from another dealer to find out more as to the meaning of the hallmark.

Ask plenty of questions

Dont be afraid to ask the dealer some questions regarding the item of jewelry. Its always a good idea to try and find out about the history and origin of the piece such as when and where it was produced.

The dealer should also tell you how they themselves acquired the item of jewelry, as well as providing you with an honest description as to its condition.

Another top tip is also to take a look at the dealers collection. If you spot a number of pieces which are all the same, then this would suggest that they could be replicas as opposed to original antiques.

We hope that you have found our blog discussing the difference between antique and vintage helpful, along with some useful tips to ensure you dont get caught out by being mis-sold an item claiming antique status. If you have any further questions regarding antique jewelry, then please dont hesitate to contact us here.