How to Buy or Sell Antique & Vintage Jewelry

At Miriam’s, we’ve spent decades specializing in antique and vintage jewelry. We buy and sell gold and precious gems in person on a daily basis. We’re here to help you evaluate whether to sell, trade in, keep or customize your treasured family heirlooms. 

Each piece of antique or vintage jewelry is one-of-a-kind. This type of jewelry is typically hand-made (not machine or factory-made) and known for its timeless craftsmanship. That’s what makes it so special. But that’s also why it can be so tricky to buy or sell. 

You can’t look up the value of antique jewelry online, or go into just any big-box jewelry store for a quote when your piece is totally unique. You need an expert jeweler you can trust to help.

What’s the Difference Between Estate, Antique and Vintage Jewelry?

There are three major types of jewelry that we buy at Miriam’s: Antique, vintage and estate. Those may all sound similar, but there’s a big difference when it comes to understanding a piece of jewelry’s value.

Antique Jewelry

To be classified as “antique,” a piece of jewelry must be at least 100 years old. These pieces can be worth quite a lot, due to their age and rarity. That said, just because a piece of jewelry is old does not make it valuable. There are many other factors at play, which we’ll discuss below.

Vintage Jewelry

“Vintage” can refer to a piece of jewelry’s age — typically 50 to 100 years old — or style. For example, many pieces made in the 1980s or even 1990s can be considered vintage due to their bold, retro look. Generally, though, this type of jewelry must be at least twenty years old.

Estate Jewelry

The term “estate jewelry” refers to any jewelry that has been resold, regardless of age or value. The previous owner may still be alive, and the jewelry can be quite new. If you are looking to purchase a true antique, make sure to check the time period when the piece was made.

How to Know What Your Jewelry is Worth

Many people assume that because they own a very old piece of jewelry, it must be valuable. That isn’t always the case, but there are some tell-tale signs you can look out for. 

Check for a Quality Stamp on the Metal

Most of us can’t tell a synthetic gemstone from a real one without consulting an expert. Looking at the metal on your jewelry will give you a better clue. That’s because real gemstones would normally be set in what we call a precious metal. If the metal isn’t real and precious, the gemstone likely isn’t, either.

If the metal in your jewelry is real gold, platinum or another precious metal, it should be stamped somewhere on that piece of jewelry. For example, look at the inside of a ring or on the clasp of a necklace. You should see a number, such as 925 (which distinguishes sterling silver), 585 (distinguishing 14-carat gold) or 750 (which distinguishes 18-carat gold). These quality stamps reflect the type and purity of the metal used.

Sometimes, this stamp can be lost over the years if a piece of jewelry has been resized or if the stamp has been polished off. In that case, you need to bring it to a trusted jeweler to be tested.

Get a Jewelry Appraisal

The key to getting a professional appraisal is to go in person to a local jeweler that you can rely on. Look for a jeweler like Miriam’s, who specializes in antique and vintage jewelry. Big-box jewelry shops that sell only modern pieces won’t understand the nuances needed to assess your piece’s true value.

You might be tempted to visit an online retailer and mail-in your jewelry for appraisal. We recommend that you don’t ever mail your valuable jewelry to someone you don’t know. Similarly, avoid pop-up appraisals at commercial jewelry stores or events. You want to develop a relationship with a jeweler you can trust, not someone you’ll never see again.

Finally, keep in mind that there are different types of appraisals. If you need an appraisal for insurance purposes, the value will ultimately be marked as higher than a cash offer or “liquidation appraisal.” That’s because the insurance appraisal reflects the cost of an insurance replacement, rather than the value of selling it today.

Customize Your Vintage Jewelry

Due to their age, vintage and antique pieces can often feel too outdated to wear. But for many of us, their value is worth more than the dollars they could sell for. Vintage jewelry is often passed down through the generations, and many of us treasure these family heirlooms. 

At Miriam’s, our designers can help you rework or remake your old jewelry so it’s not just sitting around in your jewelry box. That might mean simplifying the design to make it more everyday and classic. Or, we can create a piece that’s more formal and statement-making for special occasions. 

Remember that good design doesn’t have to be high-priced — it just has to suit the person wearing it. We’ll make sure your new piece matches your taste and style, whether you want a piece you can pair with a cocktail dress or casual wear. 

Drop by for a Consultation at Miriam’s

Vintage, antique and estate jewelry is artistically crafted, which means it can be totally personal to you. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, we have a huge selection of rare and unique pieces at Miriam’s. Plus, our experienced jewelers can give you an estimate for your gold or jewelry on the spot. Browse our selection of diamond rings, engagement rings, antique bracelets, and art deco rings, or visit one of our three Jacksonville, Florida boutiques for a consultation today.