In a world full of ever changing trends, it can be difficult to find the perfect piece of jewelry to match your closet and your piggy bank. Fortunately, estate jewelry offers a rare solution. From daring architecturally-inspired Art Deco brooches to the romantic feminine Edwardian details, estate jewelry comprises a wide variety of designs and price ranges. Not to mention, an expanded value over purchasing a brand new piece.
For those fascinated with one-off styles and vintage gemstone cuts – and a great deal – buying jewelry second hand can rewarding and lucriative.
What is "estate jewelry"?
The term “estate jewelry” practically means that it has was owned by someone else, not undoubtably that is has come from someone’s estate – although sometimes it does.
Estate jewelry combines high-end design with impeccable construction and fine gemstones at a more approachable price than new pieces. And as an added feature – it’s often an original which is why a great piece is always in demand whether your collecting or purging. Rather than a piece of jewelry you see on everyone else in town, estate jewelry is as special and personalized as its wearer.
What Time Periods Does Estate Jewelry Most Likely From?
Whether the piece belonged to an infamous queen, a celebrity or a family relative, there is a history and a narrative to estate jewelry that brand new items just do not possess. Collectors of antique pieces find that they are both wearable and serve as mementos from years gone by. In fact, most customers look to find pieces from all of the most popular design eras in order to finish off their jewelry collections.
Here’s a quick look at the time periods our customers ask us for most in our store:
Georgian (1714 – 1837)
The Georgian period was inspired by the Hanoverian Monarchs of the United Kingdom. While the reign of English kings dictated the guidelines for Georgian jewelry, design wise the pieces were coveted internationally and inspired creations all over Europe and North America.
Jewelry from the Georgian era is said to be influenced by the time of day it would have been adorned. Garnet, topaz, emerald and ruby were often worn during the day while rose and mine cut diamonds were solely worn at night. Brooches, necklaces and rings from this era are extremely tough to find because they were often handmade without today's tools.
Victorian (1837 – 1900)
The Victorian era, named after Queen Victoria, marked an era of money and the rise of industrialization and the middle class. Women were asserting themselves for jobs as clerks, teachers, factory inspectors and they were determined to win the right to vote. Women’s fashion experienced a profound transformation and crinolines expanded to astronomical proportions.
As a result, women were purchasing jewelry as gifts for themselves, and to meet the demand for pieces, a wide variety of gemstones were used as cost alternatives to more precious stones like diamonds and emeralds. Amethysts, coral, garnets, turquoise, seed pearls, and opals were also popular gemstones across the world at the time.
Victorian designs were influenced by fine art and architecture like those of the Georgian era but with more ornate and detailed features seen most frequently in necklaces, lockets and brooches.