Vintage Silver Necklace Buying Guide

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Vintage Silver Necklace Buying Guide

Although there are many different options for those interested in contemporary jewellery, for many people, vintage jewellery has a strong appeal. Jewellery that is decades or even a century old has certain style elements not found in modern pieces. One type of jewellery of particular interest to collectors of vintage items is the necklace. Necklaces are elegant, sophisticated, and can be a great complement to a dress. One of the most popular necklace materials is silver. Not only does silver have a pleasing look, it is soft enough that it can be manipulated into very intricate designs and patterns.

Vintage silver necklaces are sometimes difficult to find, and collectors may have to resort to cruising antique stores and estate sales. However, a more convenient way to find vintage jewellery, including necklaces, is to search on eBay, where sellers from all over the world display their wares. When buying a vintage silver necklace, buyers should examine what kind of silver it is made from, the condition of the silver, and the length of the necklace. They should also learn how to clean and maintain it. These factors make the buying process much easier and more convenient.

Types of Silver Necklaces

Silver is a beautiful metal that has been used in jewellery for centuries. Like gold, silver is a soft metal that is easily manipulated into exotic shapes. Both gold and silver are too soft to shape into most kinds of jewellery in their pure forms. Gold must be mixed with other metals before it is hard enough to function as practical jewellery. A similar approach is used with silver, but the quantity of other metals needed is far less than is required for gold. While 18 carat gold, the most popular alloy used for jewellery, is only 75 per cent gold, the most popular silver for jewellery, sterling silver, is 92.5 per cent silver with the rest usually being copper.

Sterling silver is very common in jewellery today, and has been for some time. This means that buyers can find many vintage sterling silver necklaces for sale. However, the farther back one goes in time, the more one discovers silver jewellery made from different kinds of silver or with different proportions of a silver alloy.

Silver Plated Necklaces

Silver plating is a way to give ordinary or dull metals the appearance of silver. Some vintage silver necklaces are actually made of silver plated metal. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as such necklaces are less expensive, yet still provide a unique and brilliant look. For the most part, silver plating is made with sterling silver.

Silver Toned Necklaces

In some cases, vintage or other necklaces are labelled as silver when this is not actually the case. In such situations the word "silver" refers to the colour of the necklace rather than the material it is made of. Such necklaces are usually made from something like nickel or other metals, but contain no silver. With a careful examination, anyone can discern between the two. Platinum is another metal that, in some cases, has a similar appearance to silver. However, platinum is worth far more.

Necklace Length

Necklaces are one of the most prominent kinds of jewellery. When worn properly, they go a long way toward completing an outfit. A major determinant of a necklace's appearance is its length. Different lengths of necklaces have different names, and these names make it easier to find the one that best fits a specific outfit.

Necklace Type

Necklace Length (cm)













It should be noted that the lengths listed above are for women's necklaces, as men's necklaces use a different system.

Silver Condition

The main drawback of anything that is made out of silver is that it tarnishes. The tarnishing process occurs when silver reacts with sulphur or hydrogen sulphur. These chemicals are found in the atmosphere, which means that over time, pretty much anything made of silver is subject to some amount of tarnish. At the same time, the copper that makes up a sterling silver alloy also reacts with oxygen; this contributes to silver tarnish. When buying a vintage silver necklace, it is not unreasonable to see at least a small amount of tarnish. It should be noted that while tarnish is best removed when it first appears, silver can be cleaned of built-up tarnish.


In some cases, vintage silver necklaces have been repaired. Over time, a silver necklace may become damaged or split. Such a split obviously lowers the value of the necklace, so attempts to repair damaged silver pieces are common. However, evidence of obvious repairs also lowers the value of a vintage necklace, so buyers must carefully examine any photos of the necklace to identify signs of poor repair. For the most part, splits, cracks, and other major flaws and problems cannot truly be repaired.

Cleaning and Maintaining a Vintage Silver Necklace

If a vintage necklace is tarnished, there is every possibility that it can be cleaned and restored to a new or like new appearance. There are several methods used to remove tarnish, but users should remember that silver needs to be regularly maintained to avoid more tarnish. Also, be aware that that some chemicals, such as bleach, ammonia, and chlorine, actually damage silver in a way that cannot be fixed. These chemicals appear in many household cleaners; in some areas, tap water contains minute amounts of chlorine that can damage a vintage silver necklace over time. Humid conditions make tarnish appear more quickly, as we as leaving it stored for long periods of time.

Cleaning Methods

The best and most common way to clean silver is to use a dedicated silver cleaning fluid and a silver cleaning cloth. Both of these products are chemically formulated to clean silver and remove the chemical compound that is tarnish. Liquid silver cleaner should be poured into a shallow vessel with the necklace being cleaned, and then swished around. Next, the liquid should be removed with the cloth; the silver should again be restored to its original lustre. If dedicated cleaning solutions are too expensive, buyers can experiment with alternative methods that are, perhaps a little unorthodox. Some of these are discussed in detail in the sections below.


The first method is to coat the necklace in common toothpaste, then let it sit for a few minutes before removing it with a soft cloth. This can be a very effective way to remove tarnish in hard to reach areas, or from necklaces with many rough areas.

Aluminium Foil

Another do-it-yourself method of cleaning silver is to place a few pieces of aluminium foil into a bowl of hot water with some salt dissolved in it. The combination of aluminium and salt create a chemical reaction that strips tarnish from silver. This is perhaps the slowest cleaning method; it may require multiple attempts with fresh ingredients before the silver is totally clean. Those who use this method also run the risk of introducing the silver to other chemicals in the water that may damage the jewellery.

Buying a Vintage Silver Necklace on eBay

Many casual buyers and collectors of vintage jewellery have discovered there are a number of beautiful items, including silver necklaces, available on eBay. These necklaces are available in many styles and lengths. Some of them are set with gemstones, and others have intricate and beautiful designs. The best method of finding a vintage silver necklace on eBay is to simply enter the term, "vintage silver necklace" into the search bar on the eBay home page. This search can be modified if necessary if you want a necklace with a certain length or with certain gemstones.

Learn More About Each Necklace

In some cases, vintage silver necklaces come with a certificate of authenticity, which greatly increases their value. Other pieces also come with histories or other interesting details that make it possible to get a better sense of where the necklace has been. Much of this information can be discovered by reading the product description or by communicating with the seller, which is recommended if you have any questions about an individual necklace.


A vintage silver necklace can be a great way to stand out at a party or as a means of making your everyday apparel more interesting. When buying a vintage silver necklace, you should evaluate the nature of the silver. This means determining if it is made from sterling silver, or if it is a lesser metal coated in silver. This can have a major effect on price. It is also important to evaluate the length of a necklace, as necklace length determines where it lies on the wearer's chest. This can make it impossible to wear certain clothing with a particular necklace, since the neckline and the necklace interfere with each other. Buyers should ascertain the condition of the silver in a vintage necklace, since silver can become tarnished over time. This can be difficult to remove. Likewise, any damage and attempted repairs to a vintage necklace can have a major effect on its value and durability. The best way to keep a vintage necklace's value is to wear it frequently and make certain to clean tarnish from it regularly. Understanding all of these factors makes it possible for anyone to buy a vintage necklace with confidence and ease.

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