Is your vintage jewellery purely sentimental or hot property?

As it turns out, not all heirlooms will necessarily fetch a high price. Picture: Supplied

As it turns out, not all heirlooms will necessarily fetch a high price. Picture: Supplied

Published Sep 22, 2023


Many of us have a treasured piece of jewellery that has been handed down from generation to generation; perhaps it’s your grandmother’s engagement ring or another sentimental item.

But do you know if your heirloom is worth anything? As it turns out, not all heirlooms will necessarily fetch a high price.

Is your piece vintage or antique?

The words "vintage" and "antique" are often used interchangeably.

But, in the world of beloved jewellery, these two words have distinct meanings.

“Antique jewellery is assigned to pieces over 100 years old, while vintage jewellery encompasses items ranging from 30 to 100 years old. The age of the piece, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it is more or less valuable,” noted Anthony Matthews from Shiny Rock Polished, an online jewellery stores.

So what key features make jewellery more valuable?

Vintage rings are said to have a unique charm that transcends generations, captivating collectors, fashion enthusiasts, and sentimentalists alike.

If you're fortunate enough to own a vintage piece, its value is likely to be determined or enhanced if it boasts any of the following features:

  • Made by a well-known designer: A vintage ring created by a renowned jewellery designer can significantly elevate its worth.
  • Unique: For example, rings that bear historical significance hold a special place in the hearts of collectors.
  • Contains high-quality stones and metals: The value of a vintage ring is influenced by the quality and size of its stones and metals.

“If your ring has any of these attributes (and you have documentation to prove it), you could have something valuable on your hands,” added Matthews.

If your piece can’t claim any of these attributes, it’s more likely to hold more sentimental value than monetary value.

But all is not lost…

Vintage cuts are back in vogue

In recent times, the classification of vintage rings and other jewellery has shifted from focusing on the age of the piece towards its style and design.

Modern jewellers are incorporating vintage designs into their collections, combining the best of old and new to create unique and timeless pieces.

Vintage-style jewellery has seen a renaissance, with Art Deco style being incorporated into modern-day designs.

“Interestingly, the oval cut dates back to the 14th century and usually feature intricate and delicate settings which consumers are enjoying today.

“Thirty-eight percent of our sales this year so far have been oval-cut stones. With this resurgence, customers are asking for valuations on their older pieces too,” said Matthews.

Vintage cuts like rose, cushion, and emerald collectively accounted for 20.6 percent of Shiny Rock Polished sales in 2022.

This year, emerald cuts alone accounted for 17 percent of all custom-made rings by the retailer.

Another attractive feature of vintage jewellery is that repurposing old rings (even those low in monetary value) is a more eco-conscious choice.

“Customers are increasingly appreciating the eco-friendly and ethical consideration of repurposing old jewellery,” Matthews pointed out.

“It reduces the demand for new resources and minimises the jewellery industry's environmental impact.”

What’s the verdict?

Vintage jewellery can hold both sentimental and monetary value.

While some pieces hold a currency of memories, others might surprise with their potential to command high prices.

Regardless of monetary value, the evolution of vintage cuts and the resurgence of classic styles is bringing new life to old treasures.

And in this era of conscious living, repurposing vintage jewellery contributes to a sustainable future, allowing you to protect the planet while staying on-trend.

Value remains in the eye of the beholder.