Vintage Gemstone Necklace Buying Guide

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Vintage Gemstone Necklace Buying Guide

There are a lot of reasons to shop for vintage jewellery. Some people prefer the look of the past or enjoy the history that is associated with each piece. Others like particular styles or designers that are no longer available, and many people consider the purchase to be an investment. The jewellery is unique from anything made today due to its age and the different styles of the time. No matter what the motivation is, shopping for older jewellery such as vintage gemstone necklaces is a fun challenge that is similar to a treasure hunt. One never knows what they find when they go looking for them.

The biggest part of shopping for vintage gemstone necklaces is identifying how old it is, whether it is authentic, and how much it is worth. The most reliable way is always to take the jewellery to an appraiser to have it inspected. However, this is not always possible learning the ways in which shoppers can successfully find the vintage jewellery on their own.

Vintage Jewellery Time Periods

The first step when shopping for vintage jewellery is to learn about the styles and characteristics of each time period. This helps people pinpoint the age of the jewellery as well as decide which styles they particularly like.

Georgian Time Period

The Georgian era started in 1714 and ended around 1837. During this time, King George I, King George II, King George III, and King George IV reigned over England. The jewellery from this time is rare and very delicate. If found, it is more likely be very expensive. It is characterised by intricate and ornate designs that are inspired by nature. Both gold and silver were used and the most prominent jewels were diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds. However other colourful gems such as garnets, topazes, and amethysts were popular as well. The gems were usually put in closed backed metal with foil underneath.

Victorian Time Period

During the Victorian era, from 1837 to 1901, Queen Victoria reigned because her uncle the king had no legitimate children to take his place after his death. The early years of the period were similar to the Georgian styles with natural designs such as flowers and leaves. The jewellery had a sentimental and romantic feel to it. Gold was the most prominent metal during this time and the popular jewels were pearls, citrines, amethysts, and garnets. However, when Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria went into mourning and black jewellery because the highest fashion as a result. Black gems and black enamel on the gold were prevalent.

Art Nouveau Time Period

This time period lasted from 1950 to 1910 during the reign of various monarchs. The Art Nouveau era is also commonly referred to as the arts and crafts period. The biggest characteristic of this time was the rebellion against the costly and formal jewellery from the Victorian era. The jewellery was hand made, rather than machine made and less expensive materials were used such as silver, enamels, and moonstones. The style was very natural with florals and live symbols such as dragonflies and women's heads.

Edwardian Time Period

The Edwardian period lasted from 1900 to 1915 during the time of King Edward of England. The jewellery was very formal and devoid of any colour. Platinum, white gold pearls, and diamonds were extremely popular. The pieces were exquisite, very feminine, and inspired by wealth and royalty. The metal framework was delicate and small in proportion to the gems and the jewels sat on the forefront with settings that were nearly invisible.

Art Deco Time Period

The Art Deco period, which lasted from 1920 to 1935, got its name from the Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art in Paris that took place in 1925. The Jazz Age inspired colour back into jewellery, and the desire to be bold and eccentric caused the jewellery design to be less delicate than style of the Edwardian period. Platinum and silver were still the most popular metals and yellow gold was rarely seen. The pieces had gems of all colours bunched together to produce the most dramatic effect and, because of the popular “flapper” clothing style, necklaces and bracelets were often stacked. For example, one necklace would be designed to look like several matching necklaces worn together.

Retro Time Period

Throughout the retro period, from 1935 to 1950, yellow and rose gold were heavily used. The jewellery styles of this era were bulkier than ever before with large clusters of multi-coloured gems. Some say that the larger number of women in the workforce due to the war is why jewellery because more bold. Unlike the previous era, expensive jewels were not used. The less costly gems such as citrines, aquamarines, and topazes were more popular. Diamonds in particular were decidedly out of style.

Determining the Age of the Vintage Gemstone Necklace

The first step to determining the age of the piece is by trying to match its style and construction to the supposed time period. If everything seems to match its era, it may be genuinely vintage. Ask the seller a lot of questions and find out everything they know about the history of the necklace. They may have some clues that lead to its identification. Do as much research as possible. The internet is a valuable source because shoppers can look up pictures of vintage jewellery to compare to the piece they are looking at.

Pay close attention to the construction of the necklace. The majority of vintage jewellery is high quality and has features such as a safety lock on the clasp which is not used on fake necklaces. Also look at the setting. Cheap jewellery has the gems glued in place, while authentic gems are in a firm setting with prongs.

Next, check for the maker's mark on the jewellery. Older designers almost always put their mark on the necklaces. This was most common prior to the 1950s. The mark is usually in the form of a small icon or initials.

Also look for the proper wear and tear on the necklace. It is old and should have signs of normal wear and tear. Particularly look for something that jewellers called "patina". Patina is the sheen that occurs on genuine jewellery after many years. It is possible not to have the sheen if the necklace has been restored, but most people sell vintage jewellery as-is.

Make Sure that the Gemstones are Genuine

Although only a jeweller can truly tell someone whether or not the jewels are real or not, there are some things that people can do to lower the chances of buying something fake. First, check the setting for glue, paint, or foil. Foil and paint are used to enhance the appearance of fake stones. Also spend some time comparing real gems and fake ones under artificial lighting. Real stones only have a light lustre and they refract the light intensely. Also inspect the colour saturation of the stones. Sometimes fake gems have an uneven hue due to the use of dyes.

A tool that can help with inspecting gems is the loupe. These are small magnifying devices that jewellers use to inspect for imperfections such as small cracks that indicate whether the stone is authentic or not.

Find Vintage Gemstone Necklaces on eBay

Shopping for anything vintage can be a real challenge because the hunt often involves going to estate sales and antique shops to search through whatever is available at the time. Many times the hunt is unsuccessful and people have to look for months before finding anything. eBay solves this dilemma for many shoppers. People from around the world can sell their vintage items on the site which gives buyers a place to go and browse through hundreds of items without hunting all over town.

To take advantage of the site, simply use the search bar to type in what you want. For example, enter "Vintage Gemstone Necklace" and then click the Search button. You can now begin browsing through the many necklaces for sale. To eliminate the new jewellery thats made to look vintage, find the Condition section and select Used. Now everything shown is truly vintage.


Anything that is vintage can be a beautiful addition to a collector's ensemble of jewellery. They are unique from the jewellery today and have a lot of character and history attached to them. Often who the previous owners of the piece are is a complete mystery that people can only guess at. Because of their uniqueness and value, vintage gemstone necklaces can also make great wedding, birthday, or Christmas presents.

They are not only fun to shop for and own, but they can also be an investment. The value of authentic vintage jewellery as well as that of precious metals and stones continually increase. This makes them an investment that can be handed down through the generations as well. If bought at the right price, the necklace may already have equity in it right away. Shopping for them is a challenge but it is well worth the effort.

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