Vintage Diamond Drop Earrings Buying Guide

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Vintage Diamond Drop Earrings Buying Guide

Diamond earrings are always stunning, adding a touch of sparkle to the ears and drawing attention to the face. Vintage diamond drop earrings, however, have a beauty all their own. The drop earring style hangs down below the ears, highlighting the curve of the neck, as well as the profile of the face. Some drop earrings are quite short while others use a chain of gemstones and precious metals that are over 6 cm long.

All vintage jewellery pieces are extremely collectible because many represent the finest artisans of the past, and it is quite common to find modern reproduction pieces in the store based on an original vintage design. True vintage pieces are sold in respectable jewellery shops, estate sales, and through online websites like eBay. When it comes to buying vintage diamond drop earrings, buyers need to pay attention to the quality of the diamond and the time period in which it was made.

The Four C's of Diamonds

When it comes to buying diamonds, everyone needs to understand the four C's: cut, clarity, colour and carat. Many people take a crash course on diamonds when buying an engagement ring, but they come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of this gemstone. All diamonds are not made equally, and even though they are the hardest material known to man, not all diamonds share the same beauty. A truly magnificent diamond represents the best qualities of the four C's, and their names, such as the Hope Diamond, are legendary.

Carat Weight

Diamond weight is measured in carats using a decimal system. Conventional wisdom states that a higher carat weight is more valuable than a lower carat weight, but this is not always true. For example, a 0.5 carat diamond that has exceptional clarity and colour combined with an exquisite cut is more valuable than a 1 carat diamond with poor clarity, colour and cut. Drop earrings sometimes feature a large diamond between 0.75 and 1 carat as the centrepiece, while smaller diamonds are used to adorn the rest of earring.

Cut

Many people get the diamond cut confused with the diamond shape, for example round, princess, or pear. Keep in mind that these are two completely separate concepts. A diamond's cut is graded based on its brilliance, not on its shape. The best diamonds reflect the most light, making them shine ever brighter. Agencies that grade a diamond usually certify a cut as either:

  • Ideal
  • Premium
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

The best cuts are the ideal and premium grades. One issue some customers have with buying vintage jewellery is that the diamonds typically do not come with certification papers so it can be difficult to judge the cut and the clarity. Sellers who market vintage diamond jewellery as having superior cuts usually supply diamond certificates.

Clarity

Diamonds form under intense pressure, so it is no surprise that most diamonds have internal flaws. The ones that do not are highly prized, since these diamonds are far more brilliant than their flawed counterparts. The clarity of a diamond measures how flawless it is, and grades the diamond appropriate. Some diamonds only have flaws seen through a microscope while others are visible with the naked eye. The grading system for clarity is:

Abbreviation

Full Name

Description

F

Flawless

No internal or external flaws. Incredibly rare.

IF

Internally Flawless

No internal flaws. Some small external flaws. Very rare.

VVS1-VVS2

Very Very Slightly Included

Minor flaws difficult to see under 10x magnification by trained gemologist.

VS1-VS2

Very Slightly Included

Minute flaws difficult to see under 10x magnification.

SI1-SI2

Slightly Included

Minute flaws easily seen under 10x magnification

I1-I2-I3

Included

Flaws visible under 10x magnification and naked eye.

Both the F and IF diamonds are extremely rare and very expensive. From F to SI2, the diamond's flaws are only visible under a microscope. The three I grades have flaws that are plainly visible.

Colour

It may be surprising to know that diamonds come in a virtual rainbow of colours, including reds, yellows, blues, and browns. Most diamonds used for jewellery are colourless since they are the brightest, but some jewellers, such as LeVian, use coloured diamonds quite successfully. Coloured diamonds are not graded, but colourless diamonds are. The less colour within a diamond, the more brightly it shines.

Colour Rating

D, E, F

G, H, I, J

K, L, M

N, O, P, Q, R

S,T, U, V, W,

Colour Description

Colourless

Near Colourless

Faint Yellow

Very Light Yellow

Light Yellow

As with most diamond qualities, an expert is needed to determine the exact colour grade. Independent diamond certificates list the carat, cut, clarity, and colour qualities of the diamond. If a seller wants top dollar for a pair of diamond drop earrings, then they should only sell the diamonds with a certificate.

Coloured Diamonds

Many vintage pieces use coloured diamonds, especially the Victorian era. Coloured diamonds have fallen in and out of fashion over the years, and some collectors cannot stand them while others avidly seek them out. There is also no reason to assume that a coloured diamond is less valuable than a colourless one. The truth is that a finely coloured diamond, with an ideal cut and exceptional clarity, is just as valuable as its colourless counterparts. In fact, the Hope Diamond, considered to be the most valuable diamond in the world, is a rare blue diamond.

Vintage Jewellery Eras

Vintage jewellery stretches across many different time periods and artistic movements. Most vintage collectors do not simply collect random pieces of jewellery from different eras. Instead, they find a style that they like and purchase pieces made in this era. Buying according to the time period is a good strategy as it allows the buyer to become more familiar with the market.

Victorian Era

The Victorian era took place from 1837 to 1901, stretching during the reign of Queen Victoria. These were fine times in England, and the jewellery from this time period reflects the richness of Victorian England. It is common to find diamond earrings with large single carats, sometimes even two or more. In today's market, such diamonds would be cut up to make smaller pieces, but during the Victorian era large gemstones were extremely popular. The earrings themselves are also finely adorned, either with other gemstones or whimsical designs.

Art Nouveau

The Art Nouveau period ran from 1895 to 1910, and overlapped with the end of the Victorian era. Yet the two different style are strikingly dissimilar from one another, and in fact, the Art Nouveau style grew out an eventual distaste for Victorian Style. While Victorian pieces can be described as lascivious, Art Nouveau pieces are beauty through simplicity. They incorporate strong, straight lines with natural motifs. Expect to find earrings in the shape of flowers in the Art Nouveau era.

Art Deco

The Art Deco period lasted from 1915 to 1935, and it produced some truly unique works of art. This was a time when artisans, inspired by the opening of King Tut's tomb, returned to classical art for inspiration. Many diamond earrings from this era have Egyptian, Roman, and even Greek motifs. For example, it is possible to find diamond earrings modelled on Ancient Egyptian designs, and this type of work is highly collectible because it is so rare.

Buying Vintage Diamond Drop Earrings on eBay

There is an extremely large selection of vintage jewellery on eBay in almost every style. Many of these pieces are extremely unique and cannot be found anywhere else. Vintage collectors have been using eBay for years to find exceptional deals and truly stunning styles of vintage jewellery.

Searching for Diamond Drop Earrings on eBay

The easiest way to find diamond drop earrings is to use the search function on eBay. Customers who want to browse, should start out with a broad search term such as 'vintage diamond earrings'. This displays diamonds earrings from all different time periods and styles. To narrow the search down to only diamond drop, type in 'vintage diamond drop earrings'. Buyers can also narrow the search by time period, such as 'Victorian diamond earrings', or 'Victorian diamond drop earrings'.

A Note About Vintage Reproductions

Vintage reproductions are not true pieces of vintage jewellery. They are modern reproductions made in the vintage style. When they were first reproduced, this was clearly stated by the seller, but it is possible that as the earrings exchanged buyers, the reproduction factor was lost. Sometimes sellers market earrings as being vintage when they are actually vintage reproductions, and even an avid collector can sometimes be duped. Take special care when examining a vintage auction, and if the piece looks a little too new to have come from the Victorian era, then it is likely a reproduction. Also, check out the seller's return policy and be sure to ask questions, especially if the item is very expensive.

Conclusion

Vintage jewellery collectors can find plenty to keep them busy on eBay. Those who adore the diamond drop earring style can find vintage pieces stretching over many years in several fantastic styles. When it comes to buying diamond earrings, customers need to understand their diamond basics. Knowing how diamonds are graded based on their carat weight, cut, clarity, and colour, ensures that the buyer does not purchase a diamond of poor quality. If possible, always try to buy diamond earrings that come with a certificate of the diamond's quality. The second factor to consider is the time period that the jewellery was made in. Many collectors prefer the style of one time period over the other, and this allows them to focus on buying the best jewellery representations. By focusing on the diamond quality, the time period, and the style, buyers can find a pair of vintage diamond drop earrings that are remarkable in every way.

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