Difference between Vintage, Estate and Antique Jewelry

Key difference: Based on age, jewelry is often classified as Vintage, Estate or Antique. Often, people take them in similar context, but they are not i.e. ‘vintage jewelry’ belongs to a period which has elapsed less than 100 years ago; ‘estate jewelry’ refers to any piece of jewelry that was previously owned, regardless of its age; and ‘antique jewelry’ is jewelry which belonged to the time which was more than 100 years ago and also referred to historical periods.

According to government guidelines and rules, jewelry is categorized as Vintage, Estate and Antique. They belong to different time periods, i.e. vintage is a 100 year old type of jewelry, estate jewelry is jewelry passed down generation which is further carried and passed to the next generation, whereas antique jewelry is old or historical jewelry as they are known to depict stories and cultures of their times.

Vintage jewelry belongs to the historic Georgian and Victorian, Art Nouveau and Edwardian design periods. They also belong to the Art Deco, Retro, Mid-Century, Modern and Contemporary periods. They were created up to that point, until they are considered to be antique. Nowadays, the term ‘vintage’ relates to those jewelry pieces that were made after the 1920’s and include the “Retro Era” glamorous effects and designs. These consists of high designs and creativity; these jewelry are curvilinear, asymmetrical, 3D, floral, scroll, bow & ribbon, geometric, invisible in settings, have large emerald cut stones, rose, yellow, green, rubies, sapphires, diamond accents, amethysts, aquamarine, citrines, moonstones, topaz, and white gold, and possess the sterling vermeil of the Retro Modern (c 1935-1945) time.

Estate jewelry is a type of owned jewelry, i.e. as its name suggests the jewelry belongs to a particular property or estate and is further passed on to the next or upcoming generations. The term “estate jewelry” simply refers to jewelry which has been previously owned and is from any era. Generally, these belong to the traditional royal families, in which the tradition of carrying forward the culture and tradition is observed. They are mostly not sold, as it depends upon the owner, whether they want to sell or keep them with themselves. They are sometimes sold in auctions and biddings.

Antique jewelry relates to historical or old jewelry, officially over 100 years old. This term applies to Victorian jewelry and items that are over 100 years of age. It will include the periods Georgian, Victorian, Arts & Crafts and just about Art Nouveau. They refer to previous types of jewelry, which were in use once upon a time. They are generally traditional and cultural jewelry, which are rarely found in the modern eras. These are considered to be precious, as they consist of fine artistic work and extraordinary creative designs. Antique jewelry resembles the type and form of culture of the historical times. They are considered to be the most pure and real form of jewelry, as the period does not depict any adulteration or corrupt compositions.

There is a different style and beauty in the blend of vintage, estate and antique jewelry. Unlike contemporary styles, these are not available in vast multiples or quantities. Vintage jewelry is a type of jewelry that is before becoming antique, or somewhere between antique, but not yet antique. Whereas, an estate jewelry belongs to the ones who are dead, or who wants to forward their tradition to their next generation in the form of jewelry; and antique jewelry is a type which does not relate to the modern or ongoing era, as these were present and used in the olden or historical times. The types of jewelry mentioned above are distinct, and possess the qualities of dedicated workmanship, individuality and rarity that are usually appreciated by collectors and stylish clients.

Comparison between Vintage, Estate and Antique Jewelry:


Vintage Jewelry

Estate Jewelry

Antique Jewelry

Short descriptions

Vintage jewelry was manufactured between antique and second hand.

Estate jewelry simply refers to jewelry which has been previously owned and is from any era.

Antique jewelry is defined as jewelry that is around 100 years old.

Identified as

Jewelry dating a particular era and includes the historic Georgian and Victorian, Art Nouveau and Edwardian design periods as well as the Art Deco, Retro, Mid-Century, Modern and Contemporary periods.

Jewelry is identified by its traditional or individual look and designs.

Jewelry dating 1920 or older: Georgian (18th-19th century), Victorian (19th-early 20th century), Arts & Crafts (1890-1920) or Art Nouveau (1890s-1915), Edwardian (1890s-1920). 


They are available in vintage showrooms.

They are available in royal families, or palaces.

They are generally available in government museums, and antique showrooms.

Sold by

Private collectors or amateur enthusiasts

In auctions, or bidders

Professional antiques dealers or history buffs

Image Courtesy: jewelry-4-u.com, jonathansdiamondbuyer.com, morninggloryantiques.com

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