How to buy vintage

CC BroachQ. Do you have any tips on how to shop for the best vintage jewellery?

A. We asked vintage jewellery expert, Jennifer Gibson. “I’m often asked for tips on how to buy vintage successfully,” says Jennifer. “My advice is simple and mirrors my own buying techniques with 3 simple steps.

  1. Firstly, it has to be love at first sight! Otherwise it will sit in a drawer unworn which is a waste. My heart races when I spot and try on the perfect piece, so if you’re not getting that buzz when you look in the mirror then it’s probably not for you.
  2. Secondly, take a really close look at it and carefully assess out the condition. On the whole go for a piece with zero or extremely minimal ‘’age appropriate wear’. For example, the older the piece the more acceptable a little wear is. However if parts of a piece are missing or damaged, or all of the pearls are peeled or all the rhinestones have dulled or blackened [for example] then this affects how the piece, looks so avoid it. It’s always better to pay more for a piece in great condition than a piece in poor condition, if you can afford it.
  3. Finally, find out a little about it and decide how much you are willing to pay for it. Ask the seller to explain the materials in the piece, any knowledge of the history or designer of the piece – often pieces are stamped by the manufacturer but not always so keep in mind that not all rare and important pieces will bear a signature, there are many, many unsigned beauties! TOP TIP: Don’t prize a signature over style and remember step 1, always fall in love with the look of the piece first and how it looks on you – you’re not wearing the signature/brand – the signature is a lovely addition to a great looking piece.

When you’ve satisfied yourself that this is the piece for you, then you just need to decide if the price is right for you. Unfortunately there’s no hard and fast rule for this beyond typically that the premium brands and couture house pieces command higher prices.

You can always visit vintage markets to see if there’s a similar piece but often a direct comparison is tricky and it’s always hard to gauge if condition comparisons are true.

Generally, if you believe it’s worth that price and you’ve fulfilled steps 1 and 2, then it’s time to take the plunge – pay for it, get a receipt and some care advice and above all, enjoy wearing it!”

Click here to read our full interview with Jennifer and to find out more about Jennifer Gibson Jewellery.

Image credit: CHANEL Double CC Brooch with Quilt Pattern. Photograph by Ian Wheat Photography.

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