Many customers of Unicorn Jewelry love exploring estate sales, consignment shops, Craigslist, eBay, and other online and offline places, in search of vintage jewelry. Unicorn Jewelry has an extensive collection of vintage and estate jewelry for sale that has been pre-evaluated and appraised, so that you'll always know what you are purchasing in our store. However, when you are out at a consignment shop, a local estate sale, or perusing eBay or Craigslist for deals on vintage jewelry, you may not know too much about the seller or the item. Here are some tips that we hope will help you make better a better buying decision:
1. If Possible, Check-out the Seller When Shopping Online
When searching for antique jewelry using websites like Craigslist or eBay, check the seller's feedback history or reputation. If an online seller has 10 of the same antique ring, you should assume that it’s not vintage or authentic. See what other buyers have said about the seller and items. If an online seller has sold vintage jewelry in the past, you will quickly get an idea of how satisfied buyers are with sellers and their items.
2. Ask Questions When at a Consignment Store or Estate Sale
Ask a few questions about the piece to learn about its owner and history. Ask how the seller came across the item. Consignment store owners and private party sellers should be able to explain how the jewelry item came into the seller’s possession. Is the jewelry item a family heirloom, is it part of the property being sold in an estate sale, or was the item found in the process of antique hunting? You can learn a lot about vintage jewelry just by asking a few questions of the seller. Sometimes you'll even gather some great history and background about vintage jewelry items and their previous owners.
3. Check for a Mark
Jewelry makers from the past to the present almost always leave a maker’s mark somewhere on the items. Therefore, if the piece is said to have been made prior to the 1950s, definitely check for some type of mark, such as a small icon of the initials of the maker. This is where Unicorn Jewelry master appraisers can save you money or a bad experience before you purchase a vintage jewelry item from a source unknown to you. (Snap a few photos of the item, then call Unicorn Jewelry for the next steps in getting an initial evaluation before you buy the item).
Or, do some research online. There are many websites that post pictures of various well-known antique jewelers’ marks with explanations of the origins and craftsmen behind the different pieces. It’s one of the fun parts of shopping for antique jewelry.
4. Look for Patina
“Patina” the sheen that occurs after years of wearing jewelry. While dealers can have pieces restored, most antique jewelry is sold in as-is condition so as not to damage the gold, silver, or other metal. Unless never worn, a vintage piece of jewelry should show signs of wear. Tarnish, dents, and a lack of shine are all common earmarks of authenticity. If a piece looks like it’s brand new, ask the seller if it’s been restored or is a reproduction. Many clever fakes can fool even the most seasoned vintage jewelry buyer. Again, if in down, give Unicorn Jewelry a call.
5. Consider the Price
If the price is too good to be true, be very careful! Authentic estate and antique jewelry pieces are made to last the lifetime of the original owner, so in most cases, you won't see these kind of items priced for only a few dollars. Try to compare the price to the gemstones, metal, and quality of the vintage jewelry piece.
6. Estate Sales
Peruse the goods and look for the signs of a true antique piece. If a piece of jewelry is being presented as genuine, ask to see the jewelry certification. If there isn’t any documentation, negotiate a better price before purchasing, but better yet, call our Unicorn Jewelry appraiser to make sure you are buying the real thing. Estate sales can be great potentials for bargains on new and vintage jewelry, however remember "buyer beware" even when you assume that the pieces came from a personal collection.
People can find amazing antique and estate pieces pretty much anywhere. Online dealers, garage sales, estate sales, consignment stores and even community rummage sales all showcase jewelry that looks old. By checking the pieces thoroughly, you can separate the real from the fake to make sure you get a great deal on jewelry items that catch your eye.
Remember, when you are considering paying a lot of money for a piece of vintage jewelry, the knowledgable, certified appraisers here at Unicorn Jewelry & Watch Boutique are always here to help.