Antique Gemstone Necklace Buying Guide

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Antique Gemstone Necklace Buying Guide

Antique gemstone necklaces are unique pieces that give an individual a unique look and style that many modern accessories cannot provide. An antique gemstone necklace is often a one-of-a-kind piece; it can also be a replica of a necklace that was so iconic its style lasted through the ages. These pieces make bold statements that can add a distinct style touch to anyone's ensemble and are much in demand in today's marketplace.

Anyone in the market for these types of necklaces may have many questions they need answered before they begin. Answering these questions as to things such as the different eras with which antique gemstone necklaces are normally associated, the different styles of necklaces, and the types of gemstones can help facilitate the purchasing process and help a consumer find a suitable necklace. It is also advantageous to know some of the better retail options for purchasing antique and antique-style necklaces, including the online website, eBay.

Main Style Eras Associated with Antique Gemstone Necklaces

The different eras which created many of the antique gemstone necklaces available today are as distinct as separate centuries, reflecting a diverse range of looks and styles. When shopping for an antique gemstone necklace, it can be helpful for individuals to understand the overall look and feel of each of these eras to help narrow the selection of a piece.

Victorian Era Antique Gemstone Necklaces

The Victorian era of jewellery was not influenced as much by an art movement as it was by the will and personality of one woman, Queen Victoria. With a reign that spanned much of the nineteenth century, her rule became the catchphrase that many still use to this day to describe any piece made in the 1800s or made to resemble a piece from the 1800s.

Victorian gemstone necklaces often evoke the look and feel of much older pieces from ancient Greece and Rome. This is due to the discovery of the ancient ruins of Pompeii during the period, which sparked a trend of ancient-themed pieces. Victorian era necklaces often feature pearls and corals in their design or a large, central cameo or stone. After Queen Victoria went into mourning over Prince Albert, a huge shift towards mourning necklaces took place, introducing darker themes and the use of black onyx and red garnet in many necklaces.

Art Nouveau Antique Gemstone Necklaces

The Art Nouveau era occurred at the turn of the twentieth century and was the transition period between the romanticism and neo-classical tendencies of prior periods and the modernist trends that were to come. Art Nouveau began as a philosophy of art but quickly made its ways into the decorative arts and is still a popular style used in everything from poster art to jewellery.

Art Nouveau necklaces are characterised by themes and design motifs from nature. Art Nouveau is also when the West began to introduce many Asian and Japanese influences into the decorative arts, so Japanese notes can appear in many Art Nouveau necklaces. Art Nouveau also saw the introduction of semi-precious gemstones and opals, a step away from the high-status diamonds and precious gems of earlier eras. The most iconic image from the Art Nouveau era is the dragonfly, which is often featured prominently in necklaces and other pieces of jewellery from this period.

Edwardian Era Antique Gemstone Necklaces

The Edwardian period was also defined by a monarch: King Edward VII, son of Victoria. The period largely coincided with Art Nouveau, but retained its own British refinement and is not as fanciful as Art Nouveau, though it does show some hints of that influence.

In the Edwardian period, women's fashion in general began to transition away from the constricts of the past. Skirt hems rose and women's shirts became more mannish in aspect with many women wearing collars and a female version of a necktie. Ironically, the jewellery and gemstone necklaces of this time are ultra-feminine, with lacy filigree, ornate lines, and very delicate motifs. The gemstones used during this time were also quite feminine and included the light pastels of gemstones such as aquamarine, tourmaline, peridot, and citrine.

Art Deco Antique Gemstone Necklaces

The Art Deco period was the first thoroughly modern era in decorative arts with an aesthetic primarily driven by a vision of the future. Geometric shapes, high-contrast colour use, and stark iconography epitomised the era.

Necklaces from this period feature large geometric shapes and lines and the use of gemstones to create deep contrast. Diamonds for example, often provide a neutral canvas onto which brightly hued gemstones such as rubies and sapphires are placed. Emerald was another popular gemstone of the era, although green glass was often a substitute. Turquoise and coral also make an appearance in pieces from this era, thanks to their bright colouring.

Retro Antique Gemstone Necklaces

Pieces created from the 1940s onward or evoking a style from that period are often referred to as 'Retro' pieces in the marketplace. The gemstone necklaces of the 1940s are much more modest than jewellery from some of those previous eras: the period was, of course, a time of war for much of the world. It was, however, the height of the Hollywood era, so glamour pieces and paste meant to replicate the extravagance of movie stars are quite common, as well. A simple strand of pearls is an iconic piece to find from this era.

New materials such as bakelite began to surface at this time and into the 1950s. Lower-grade metals such as bronze and brass also are in many pieces from this period. The 1960s saw a resurgence of modernist themes. Gemstone necklaces from this era are often quite bold and stark, with large central pendants and bold geometric forms.

A Note on Provenance and Quality

When shopping for an antique item, it is important that consumers confirm the provenance and quality of a piece. Proactive conversations with a vendor are essential and, in some cases, a seller might have a certificate or other document that verifies a necklace's provenance. This, of course, is not a concern with replica pieces, but a consumer will want to confirm nonetheless that a replica piece accurately reflects the era it is meant to represent.

Shopping for Antique Gemstone Necklaces

In some instances, traditional brick and mortar vendors may have some antique gemstone necklaces available for purchase. The selection at these types of vendors may be limited, and the range of items available certainly will not span more than a few of the above eras. For individuals looking for a wide range of antique gemstone necklaces may find that online auction sites have a larger catalogue of options. These sites, as epitomised by eBay, aggregate different vintage sellers and individual vendors to create a wide range of options when searching for an antique gemstone necklace.

How to Buy Antique Gemstone Necklaces on eBay

The online auction site eBay offers visitors a helpful search interface that makes finding listings an easy process. When you visit eBay, you can find a search bar at the top of any page on the site. Select a keyword term relevant to your search, enter it in the search bar, and click on 'Search'. This pulls up all the listings on the site which relate to your term. If you want to get an idea of all the antique gemstone necklaces on the site, search with a general term such as 'antique gemstone necklace'. You can also use eBay's advanced search options to run a more refined search.

Evaluating Vendors on eBay

It is important when shopping on eBay to make an effort to get to know the vendors associated with any item you are interested in purchasing. When you review the item's listing, click on the seller's highlighted name. This takes you to the seller's page where you can look through past auctions and review the feedback other customers have submitted. In this way, you can get an idea of the range of items within a seller's experience and whether they align with your needs.


Purchasing an antique gemstone necklace can be a unique gift for a friend or can give a consumer her own one-of-a-kind necklace to wear for a special occasion. These vintage pieces range from the feminine to the edgy and modern and can bring timeless value and beauty to an ensemble. When shopping for these antique necklaces, individuals benefit from having a thorough understanding of the types of necklaces created in each of the style eras over the last few centuries. With this knowledge in hand, consumers can be more prepared to make an informed decision in their purchase.

One of the larger catalogues of antique gemstone necklaces can be found on the online auction site, eBay. With its user-friendly interface and detailed listings, individuals looking for an antique gemstone necklace can quickly and easily find an item in line with their needs. By then just taking a moment to evaluate the seller associated with an item, consumers can finalise a purchase and own a necklace of timeless value and beauty.

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