Collecting Estate Jewelry

The definition of estate jewelry is any jewelry that has been previously owned. It could be antique jewelry, or it could be retro jewelry, but as long as it was owned by another person, it is considered estate jewelry. Sometimes these pieces hold a special meaning for the person wearing it, or it may just be a charming and period-piece style that they prefer.
Occasionally, the current trends and styles for jewelry are not inspiring for some. This is when you should turn to estate sales for jewelry. Many trends are turning towards a vintage flair; taste in decor, furniture and clothing has gone back a few decades and people want things that have a history. The same thing is true with jewelry. Estate jewelry is intriguing and should be appreciated.
When someone passes away, their things are sold in an estate sale if they are not willed to family members. Sometimes people just want to get rid of their things, and decide to sell important things such as jewelry or furniture. Estate, antique and vintage jewelry slightly differ in definition. Estate jewelry does not necessarily mean the piece is old. Estate can mean that it is fine jewelry or costume jewelry from another era in time. Antique jewelry is at least 100 years old or older. Sometimes collectors refer to anything from the 1920’s and older as antique. Vintage jewelry is a piece that has distinct characteristics of a certain time period, such as the 50’s, 60’s or the 70’s in its quality, materials and design. Estate jewelry collectors occasionally include vintage and antiques in with their estate collections.
There are different types of collectors that like estate jewelry. Some like to collect pieces that are from a certain time period or decade, while others simply like certain things, regardless of the time when they were made. With better quality of materials and workmanship comes a higher value that will only increase as time goes on. Most of the time, vintage estate jewelry pieces were designed and handmade for a certain person, therefore are not mass produced. These are worth more as well.
The design process and the production of estate jewelry is very different than it is today. Because these items were not mass produced, they were made with very careful craftsmanship. This made these items more valuable at that point in time, and definitely more valuable now that they are considered estate pieces. Clasps were different, prongs were longer, and there were other features that you simply don’t see any more in the mainstream jewelry market. Another interesting feature of many pieces of estate jewelry is that many times, sterling silver had a backing of yellow gold simply to increase the value of the piece.
Estate jewelry can include other decorative accessories such as cuff links, money clips and cosmetic cases. These things were given as gifts and were usually high quality items made of silver or gold. They were regarded as highly as an expensive brooch or other piece of jewelry. These items also include mirrors, compacts, handbags, glasses, flasks, pocket watches, lighters and pen sets.
An interesting trend today is using pieces and parts of estate jewelry to produce newer and sturdier pieces of jewelry, while still having that estate feel and antique flair. Settings are reinforced, stones are set in a different style setting, rings are turned into pendants or stones from a necklace are turned into a ring. There is an endless amount of things that you can do with estate jewelry and still enjoy the charm and style that it entails.