Like a fine wine, estate jewelry only gets better with age. Deciding to purchase Boston estate jewelry can be a wise investment, but how do you know what to buy? What has the most value, and what is the most collectable?
Estate jewelry simply refers to anything that has been previously owned. Contrary to common belief, the previous owner does not have to be deceased for it to be considered estate jewelry. The two categories of estate jewelry are antique and vintage. The term antique is usually reserved for jewelry over 100 years in age, while vintage is anything crafted within the past 100 years, most commonly in the 1920s.
When browsing for jewelry, look for durable metals that will hold their value. The most collectable pieces are made of gold, sterling silver, and platinum. Anything containing precious gems such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies or sapphires, will also prove to have a higher value. Pieces that integrate with changing fashion are likely to hold their value longer as well.
When purchasing period jewelry in Boston, it’s important to understand what you’re seeing. The terms estate, antique, and vintage are all very similar, yet vary in meaning and value. Knowing the distinguishing factors that make these historic pieces unique can help you make the best decision.
Estate jewelry is also categorized by the period from which it hails. These classifications can help you determine both value and style.
Georgian Era (1714 to 1830)– The Georgian Era covers the reigns of the four “George” British kings—George I through George IV. Every piece of jewelry from this period was hand-crafted and often incorporates precious stones. This is also the period in which “mourning jewelry” was popular. You may find pieces adorned with a skull or coffin as a commemoration of the deceased.
Victorian Era (1837 to 1901)- From the era of British Queen Victoria’s reign, these extravagant conversation pieces are adorned with gemstones and semi-precious stones, and are typically flashier than the other periods. Victorian costume jewelry and fine jewelry are often indistinguishable.
Arts and Crafts Movement (1860 to 1910) – As a form of rebellion against the Industrial movement, these hand-made pieces are very simple in pattern, and include colorful, uncut stones.
Edwardian Era (1901 to 1910)– These pieces from the period covering the reign of British King Edward VII exhibit a more feminine, lacey and delicate motif. Often referred to as “lace translated to platinum and diamonds” these pieces generally are crafted with more expensive gems
Art Nouveau – This romantic design popular during the period of 1890 to 1910, focuses on the natural. You may find butterflies or flowers adorned on these pieces as art nouveau was inspired by natural forms and structures.
Art Deco – Becoming increasingly popular in the “Roaring 20s,” this jewelry includes bold colors and the use of a variety of gemstones in one piece. You’ll also see the introduction of ivory and jade, typically in a very geometric design.
Retro Period – The period of retro jewelry began in 1935 and ran through 1945. Hollywood inspired, these elaborate pieces are bold and colorful and those that survive today are highly coveted.
Now that you know what you’re looking at, visit Bromfield Jewelers in Boston for a wide selection of Estate Jewelry from a variety of periods. Stop by today to discuss adding to or starting your own collection, to request an appraisal on an item you’re curious about or need to insure, or just to browse through time and fashion!