Antique jewellery can bring the wearer great pleasure and it can be fascinating to discover the history of the pieces you have chosen. But how do you go about buying genuine antique jewellery that will retain its value for years to come? Read on for some helpful tips.
Condition is everything
As with most antiques, the condition of jewellery is of vital importance if the piece is to retain its value for re-sale or for insurance valuation.
Always use a magnifying glass to check pieces for cracks and damage to enamelled areas or semi-precious stones, and watch out for signs of corrosion or discolouration on silver and gold. Although minor scratches can be repaired, more serious flaws cannot.
Look to see that the quality of the craftsmanship on each piece is good; stones should be perfectly symmetrical in their settings, lines should be straight and the overall finish of the pieces should be good.
Watch out for fakes
Unfortunately, there are many fakes out there waiting to trap the unwary buyer. Look carefully for a clear maker's mark or a signature on the piece. This will help you to age the piece accurately and can provide useful clues to spotting non-genuine items. For example, watch out for items of jewellery that purport to be Georgian but whose alleged maker didn't work in that style at that particular time. Such items are probably not the genuine article.
If possible, obtain documentation that authenticates the piece. If you are buying from a dealer or reputable jeweller, they should be able to provide you with this. Other useful documents include:
- original receipts for the purchase
- printed research that shows an item's history
- photographs of the piece being worn at an event that can be precisely dated
If you are buying diamonds, it's often possible to have the piece authenticated by a professional. The GIA is a world-recognised authority on diamonds and coloured gemstones, and if you're buying an antique piece from a dealer, you should ask for a GIA certificate. A GIA certificate will detail features such as:
- clarity of the stone
Buying antique jewellery is great fun and can also be a good investment if you buy wisely. Follow the guidelines given above to make sure that you get good value for the money and a genuine article. For more advice and guidance on buying antique jewellery, have a chat with local jewellers.