In a world full of ever changing trends and fads, it can be difficult to find the right piece to match your existing style and budget. Fortunately, estate jewelry offers a unique solution. From the bold geometric shapes of Art Deco to the lacy romanticism of the Edwardian era, estate jewelry encompasses a wide variety of choices and price points. Not to mention, an increased value over purchasing the same piece brand new.
Especially for those interested in uncommon designs and materials – and a good deal – buying jewelry second hand can be a rewarding experience.
What is Estate Jewelry?
The term “estate jewelry” roughly means that it has been previously owned, not necessarily that is has come from someone’s estate – although sometimes it does.
Estate jewelry combines a high end look with exquisite workmanship and high quality gemstones at a more advantageous price than newly manufactured pieces. And as an added bonus – it’s often one-of-a-kind which is why a good piece is always in demand whether your buying or selling. Rather than a dime-a-dozen design that crowds the market, estate jewelry is as special and individual as its owner.
The Design Eras
Whether the piece belonged to a famous queen, a star actress or a relative, there is a history and depth to estate jewelry that brand new items just do not have. Collectors of vintage pieces find that they are both wearable and serve as mementos from bygone years. In fact, most customers seek to collect pieces from all of the most popular design eras in order to round out their collections.
Here’s a quick look at the design eras buyers ask us for most in our stores:
Georgian (1714 – 1837)
The Georgian period was named for the Hanoverian Monarchs of the United Kingdom. While the reign of English kings defines the parameters for Georgian jewelry, stylistically the designs were shared internationally and the Georgian aesthetic turned up all over Europe and America.
Jewelry from the Georgian era was often inspired by the time of day it would be worn. Garnet, topaz, emerald and ruby were abundant in daytime jewelry while rose and mine cut diamonds were abundant at night. Pieces from the Georgian era are often extremely rare because they were completely handmade.
Victorian (1837 – 1900)
The Victorian era, named after Queen Victoria, marked an era of prosperity and the rise of industrialization and the middle class. Women we’re competing with men for jobs as clerks, teachers, factory inspectors and they were fighting to win the right to vote. Women’s fashion underwent a radical transition and crinolines expanded to overwhelming proportions.
As a result, women were purchasing jewelry for themselves, and to meet the demand for quality jewelry pieces, a variety of gemstones were used as affordable alternatives to more precious stones. Amethysts, coral, garnets, turquoise, seed pearls, and opals were popular gemstones on the mass market.
Victorian styles were inspired by fine art and architecture like those of the Georgian era but with more intricate and delicate features seen most commonly in lockets and brooches from the time period.