Jewellery: Estate, Vintage or Antique? Oh My!

There is nothing sadder than jewellery not seeing the light of day, because they don’t suit one’s style. I’m not a huge jewellery wearer, nor do I claim to be any sort of expert on jewellery. My expertise is limited to admiring shiny, glittering adornments. Mind you, if I was part of a royal family, I’d be wearing a different tiara a day.

All of these items are referred to in the text.

That said, I decided to write this blog post about estate, vintage and antique jewellery, because I was researching the aquamarine ring pictured. I think it’s art deco, because of the stylized tulip cut outs in the mount. When I was given this ring by an elderly aunt, I didn’t ask about the history – I just saw a sparkler!

First the most important question needs to be answered immediately : how is jewellery spelledt?

In Australian English, the correct spelling is jewellery. The United States, on the other hand, uses jewelry’.

Estate, Vintage or Antique?

According to jewellery expert Lauren Thommen, “the terms antique, vintage, and estate are used to help date older pieces of fine jewelry… jewelry that is not brand new is considered estate jewelry, but not all estate jewelry is considered vintage or antique. Antique jewelry and vintage jewelry are defined by when the item was made.”

Estate Jewellery

Estate jewellery is any pre-loved piece regardless of its age. An item can be a recently purchased contemporary piece and still be considered estate jewellery. The lapel pin pictured was purchased earlier this year at a gentleman’s boutique. It’s estate jewellery now.

Vintage Jewellery

Vintage refers to an item that is at least 20 years old. For example, the pearl brooch pictured was given to my mother in 1967. Vintage. The ruby and diamond earrings pictured  were given to me for my 21st– they are also vintage.

Hey what!

Antique Jewellery

The term antique refers to items that are at least 100 years old. Jewellery expert Lauren Thommen warns we should be wary of items described as antique style, as it could be a reproduction piece.

What does THIS all mean?

Dear reader, it gets better. Like fashion, architecture and art – there are jewellery design eras! I mentioned in my introduction that I thought the pictured aquamarine ring is from the art deco period, (deco is my favourite era) purely from the stylized tulip design. Art deco jewellery was made between 1920 and 1935.

All I know about my ring is that it’s from the 1930s. The ring was appraised in a valuation a few years ago for contents insurance, and I was surprised at the dollar figure, but again, didn’t ask more. I’ll be finding out more, and of course, blogging about it. So be sure to follow me here or on Instagram or Facebook.


Here’s a great ring size chart for your reference!

If you know something about Estate, Vintage or Antique jewellery, I’d love for you to share your wisdom in the comments! Cheers xx

If you’d like to comment here, your comment should contribute meaningfully and kindly to discussion.