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Antique/Vintage Jewelry FAQs


 

What Exactly is Antique, Vintage & Estate Jewelry?

Antique jewelry is considered to be crafted at least 100 years ago or more. Antique jewelry periods include The Georgian Era (c.1714-1837), Victorian Era (c.1837-1901), Art Nouveau Era (c.1890-1915), Edwardian Era (c.1901-1915), and many early Art Deco era (c.1919-c.1939) pieces as well. Vintage jewelry is generally considered to be crafted at least 20 years ago but generally are less than a century old. Vintage jewelry periods include later Art Deco Era pieces (c.1930's-1939), Retro Era (c.1939-1950), Mid-century Era (c.1950-c.1969), and Contemporary/Modern Era (c.1970-present). All jewelry that is only around 20 years old can be categorized in the Contemporary/Modern jewelry period. Estate jewelry often refers to all previously owned pieces whose age range is not exclusive to specific eras, and can also include modern auctioned pieces as well. 

 

What Is The Condition of Antique & Vintage Jewelry?

At Zanathia, antique and vintage jewelry items in stock are considered in 'excellent vintage condition', 'very good vintage condition' or 'good vintage condition'. This means all jewelry collectibles have been previously owned and cared for, but some pieces may show more signs of wear or age than others. Zanathia strives to only provide quality collectible jewelry that is ready for wear without needing extensive repairs. Vintage & antique jewelry will rarely be in a perfect unworn condition and natural patina/oxidization of metals often occurs overtime with age. At Zanathia, there is also a condition chart that customers can use to reference the antique or vintage condition of a jewelry item. 

 

What is a Antique/Vintage Jewelry Condition Chart & What Does It Consist of?

It is best to purchase vintage and antique jewelry that is graded with a condition chart. Jewelry condition charts may vary depending on the seller or dealer. A vintage jewelry chart allows the customer to know the condition of an item, which includes if there are any major flaws to note. At Zanathia, the jewelry condition chart that is followed consists of:

  • Excellent Vintage Condition: Aged Items that show very minimal and light signs of wear if any at all. There may only be light signs of wear on the back or closure of an item in this category. Very light natural patina or oxidization to metal if any at all. 
  • Very Good Vintage Condition: Aged Items that may show moderate signs of wear that is not a detraction or takes away from the jewelry's beauty when worn. Jewelry in this category may include moderate natural patina to metal or oxidization due to age. Jewelry item may include some minor surface imperfections to gemstones or metal. 
  • Good Vintage Condition: Aged Items that may show significant signs of wear that is not a detraction or takes away from the jewelry's beauty when worn. This may include substantial natural patina to metal, oxidization due to age, or multiple considerable imperfections to gemstones and metal. Many items labeled in this category at Zanathia are often older antique jewelry (at least 120 years old or more).                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

How Do You Clean Antique & Vintage Jewelry? What is the Process?

At Zanathia, all jewelry in stock are ready for wear and do not require detailed professional cleaning procedures before being worn. Zanathia jewelry is sold with it's natural patina to maintain it's original antique or vintage integrity. Zanathia does not specialize in professionally cleaning vintage and antique jewelry. Not all vintage and antique jewelry should be cleaned using the same methods. There are different procedures to follow based on the metal and stone type. Some customers may prefer an aged look or patina/oxidization to vintage jewelry, and the specific detailed cleaning method of choice is left to the buyer.  Please be careful when cleaning vintage and antique jewelry. Each metal and stone has a different chemical composition, which may cause various effects depending on the solution used. Every cleaning solution should be carefully considered. It is recommended to consult with a professional that specializes in cleaning vintage & antique jewelry if someone is unsure what procedure is appropriate for the item.

 

How Do You Know The Metal Purity or Maker of Antique & Vintage Jewelry Items?

All sterling silver jewelry at Zanathia has been acid tested for it's metal purity if there are no hallmarks such as '925', 'STG', 'STER', or 'sterling' located on the item(s). Other standard hallmarks include 'GE' for gold electroplated, 'FAS' for fused alloy silver in sterling silver pieces, 'Vermeil' for silver coated with gold and 'K'  or 'C' for the karat/measure of purity such as 14k & 24k. If there are no signature or hallmarks located on jewelry for clarification, then Zanathia cannot attest to who a designer or artist of an item is. Some jewelry will not be stamped or marked, which is common in many older antique & Native American pieces. The National Gold & Silver Stamping Act was not enacted until 1906. Before 1906, jewelry was not legally required to have a karat mark or stamping for metal purity. Many artisan makers continued to not mark or stamp their jewelry after the act as well.