Jewellery has been a part of our lives for thousands of years. People have always wanted to make themselves look more appealing, and in ancient times, would use anything from shells, flowers, feathers, or animal bones to achieve this. Jewellery however, also frequently has religious or symbolic meanings.
Time and society have both had an influence on how and why we choose to wear jewellery. In the past, jewellery was only affordable to and worn by the elite as a symbol of their wealth.
These days though, people from all walks of life adorn themselves with jewellery for several reasons. One of these is to add eye-appeal to the outfit they are wearing, and another, simply because wearing the piece makes them feel good. While some people go for modern jewellery including bangles, rings, watches, necklaces, and so forth, there are others who prefer to spend their money on the similar, older, antique or vintage pieces.
So What Is The Difference Between Modern & Antique Jewellery?
Jewellery used to be classed an antique piece when it was at least one hundred years. Nowadays however, anything that is pre 1950 is classed as "antique", and at least 20 years old to fall into the "vintage" category.
There are five main reasons as to why some people would purchase antique or vintage jewellery instead of modern pieces, including:
- Excellent value for money - Generally, modern jewellery costs more than its antique or vintage equivalent, because of higher manufacturing costs and more expensive stones. Diamond dealers prefer the round, brilliant cut of modern diamonds to the old cut diamonds used in antique and vintage jewellery, which can be an enormous money-saver!
Some people might be under the impression that old cut diamonds are inferior to those used in modern jewellery, but this is definitely not so. In fact, old cut diamonds are extremely sought-after collector's items!
Antique and vintage pieces are always better value for money than modern jewellery. So by buying a piece of jewellery in the antique or vintage category, is an excellent value-for-money investment.
- Better quality - the statement "they don't make things like they used to", is so true, even where jewellery is concerned. This is because the jewellery of today is mainly cast, while vintage jewellery could be either handmade or at least hand-finished, and antique jewellery completely crafted by hand.
Although people have tried to imitate antique and vintage jewellery, they have not succeeded most of the time. It is just not possible to find high-quality modern jewellery - not even customized, extremely expensive pieces, of the same exceptional quality and workmanship, as is seen all the time with antique and vintage pieces.
The reason for this is because jewellery pieces of days gone by were made by highly-skilled craftsmen, who were proud of their craft and spent plenty of time creating a single unique and intricate, customized piece. The excellent workmanship of antique and vintage jewellery proves that there was no mass markets in those days as there is today. Jewellery produced back then was more refined and delicate than most of the modern jewellery offered these days.
- A great investment - you would be shocked if you ever tried to sell a 2nd-hand piece of jewellery, as to the low amount of money you were offered for it. The reason for this is because the value of modern jewellery is worked out according to what the gemstones and metal would be worth if sold on the wholesale market.
Antique and vintage jewellery pieces, on the other hand, are worth more than the total value of their components, since each item is exclusive and it is impossible for modern production methods to duplicate them.
The bottom line, is that even though the antique or vintage piece of jewellery you buy might be less expensive than a similar, modern piece, it will be worth a whole lot more! It's the same as buying a car. If you buy a brand-new car, it's value drops significantly, the minute you drive it out of the showroom. However, if you keep it in good condition for a long time, it will eventually fall into the vintage category, and be highly attractive to collectors, and worth a lot of money to you!
- Romantic and one-of-a-kind - the great thing about buying an antique or vintage piece of jewellery, is that there is little to no chance of there ever being another one like it, anywhere in the world. Design and craftsmanship were concentrated on when older jewellery items were created, unlike modern jewellery, where the main focus is on the size of the gemstone used in the piece.
Rare and Exclusive Items
Even abundant items such as diamond solitaire engagement rings had an individuality about them in the old days, as they were frequently personalized and handmade. They would frequently be handcrafted exquisitely, with carved shanks, openwork, pierced galleries, calibre cut accent stones, and hand-crafted millegrain work. These designs are not often seen in modern jewellery, because of the expensive manufacturing procedure it would involve.
There is definitely something romantic about wearing a piece of antique or vintage jewellery. Did a lady of the night wear your earrings? Was your Edwardian engagement ring put on the finger of a suffragette by her fiancé? Apart from looking beautiful, the antique or vintage jewellery you buy hides a story of days gone by, and you can have loads of fun imagining what its story is, where it's been, and who it was that wore it so many years ago.
- Environmentally-friendly and ethical - it's the environmental and ethical reasons that antique and vintage jewellery provide, that many people find attractive.
There are many well-known ethical problems surrounding metal and diamond mining that many people find extremely concerning. Modern jewellery that uses these materials is outrageously priced, and no matter how careful the companies are during the process, mining does have an adverse impact on the environment.
Therefore, those who want to do their part to help prevent further damage to the environment will rather opt for antique or vintage jewellery. This way, they are helping to reduce the impact that mining has on the environment while not spending a cent more for the exquisite jewellery pieces they buy.
It is just not possible to produce environmentally-friendly modern jewellery, because of the enormous amount of energy and water required for the mining process. So, if you opt for pieces of antique or vintage jewellery, you will be helping to conserve the environment, and not simply be a consumer.
Also, if you buy jewellery from years gone by instead of modern pieces, you will be supporting a local business rather than huge corporations, while at the same time, further damage to the environment
The jewellery you wear says a lot about you as a person, so it is important that you take into consideration whether or not you "click" with the piece, what it would say to others about you, and how it would make you feel.
Whatever your personal style is though, it is best to visit a jeweller that specialises in antique and vintage jewellery, and find those pieces that will enhance the beautiful person you already are!