The Great Antique Jewelry Debate

Are you drawn to the allure of owning a one-of-a-kind piece with a fabulous history? Consider antique jewelry for accessories that will be uniquely you.
Courtesy of Fred Leighton

Do you have what it takes to wear antique jewelry? It’s a question even the purveyors of some of these most precious, unique baubles in the world ask. Find out if Something Old is for you.

Antique jewelry, by its very nature, has been pre-owned and is over 100 years old. It is this age factor that distinguishes it from two of its “cousins,” estate and vintage jewelry. “Estate jewelry does not have an age requirement and means that it is just pre-owned,” says Greg Kwiat, CEO of Fred Leighton, the premier estate and antique brand. “We use the terms ‘vintage’ or ‘estate’ jewelry to refer more broadly to jewelry that is from a previous period, has a history to it and is not contemporary.”

What makes antique jewelry stand apart is also what can determine if this kind of jewelry is for you. Read on for the pros and the cons of century-old bijoux:

PRO: Antique jewelry accentuates individual style

Antique jewelry stands out because its style is never contemporary but harks of yesteryear fashions. “Vintage jewels often recall a style or fashion from a previous era, and allow the wearer to create a look that is authentically linked to the era of its origin,” says Kwiat.

CON: Bridal jewelry MAY not have to work so hard to stand out

By its very presence at the most important day of your life, you’re elevating the status of what jewelry you wear on your wedding day. “The jewelry a bride wears on her wedding day will always have unique significance. Each time she wears those pieces again, she’ll remember that special day,” explains Keeley Cabot, boutique director at Cartier, the renowned French jeweler that specializes in brand-new pieces.

There are even more permanent ways to further personalize a new piece (something you may not wish to do to a pre-owned gem). “Cartier offers engraving, so the wedding date, initials of the bride and groom or special messages can be etched onto a piece, recording a unique hallmark for the new couple and future family.”

PRO: Antique jewelry is one-of-a-kind

You’ll probably never sit next to someone at a dinner party with the same ring as you. Explains Elizabeth Doyle of Doyle & Doyle, a New York City antique and estate boutique, “Even if 100 years ago there were more than one of the piece created, not all of them would have survived and the chances of finding two of the same antique piece is relatively small.”

CON: You prefer a timeless look

If you’re a bride who loves a more contemporary, classic feel, antique may stand out too much. “The jewelry a bride wears on her wedding should feel timeless. You will want to look back on pictures and feel like they have stood the test of time, so focus on pieces that are classic,” says Cabot.

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