Difference between Antique Jewelry vs. Vintage Jewelry

July 18, 2022 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

What is the difference between antique and vintage? What is the difference between an Antique Engagement Ring and a Vintage Engagement Ring? Or how about an Estate Ring? Here’s the complete guide for learning about antique jewelry vs. vintage jewelry.

These are all very common questions. The terms are so often intertwined that, more often than not, we find people using the terms completely incorrectly.

Antique vs. Vintage vs. Estate

Antique Estate Jewelry Earrings in Case

Vintage jewelry means jewelry that is older than 20 years. Antique jewelry means jewelry that is older than 100 years. Estate jewelry means second-hand jewelry (regardless of its age).

To elaborate: Something antique will always refer to something that is also vintage, but something vintage isn’t necessarily antique. Vintage refers to something that is from an earlier generation. Antique refers to something that is over 100 years old.

chart that shows difference between estate vintage antique

What’s the Difference Between Vintage Jewelry and Antique Jewelry?

The difference between vintage jewelry and antique jewelry is the age. Vintage jewelry is jewelry that ranges from 20 years until 100 years. Antique jewelry is jewelry that is older than 100 years.

Other than that, there are no other differences.

Keep reading to discover the differences between all four categories: vintage jewelry, antique jewelry, estate jewelry, and vintage-style jewelry.

Vintage Jewelry

Vintage Jewelry Definition Infographic

Vintage Jewelry, in a formal sense, is second-hand jewelry (and often timepieces) that is older than 20 years but younger than 100 years.

This includes jewelry from the 1930s and the Retro Era, Hollywood-inspired 1940s jewelry, the Jacqueline Kennedy-inspired 60s jewelry, and even the dramatic jewelry of the 70s and 80s.

As of 2022, vintage jewelry is any piece that was created before 2002.

Antique Jewelry

Antique Jewelry Definition Infographic

Antique jewelry, in a formal sense, is second-hand jewelry (and often timepieces) that is older than 100 years. Antique engagement rings and antique jewelry will be from the Georgian Era, Victorian Era, Edwardian Era, or Art Deco Era.

As of 2023, antique jewelry is any piece that was created before 1923.

Estate Jewelry

Estate Jewelry Definition Infographic

Estate jewelry refers to an item that was previously owned. Usually, this refers to vintage jewelry, but it is possible (and also correct) to use it to refer to non-vintage jewelry.

Vintage Style Jewelry

The fourth category is Vintage Style Jewelry. Vintage Style jewelry includes Victorian-Style, Edwardian-Style, and Art-Deco-Style. The jewelry in this category showcases an antique diamond (like the Old Mine Diamond or Old European Diamond) and reset in a platinum or gold setting that borrows influence in design from one of the aforementioned eras.

Click here to learn more about vintage-style jewelry.

Age of Vintage, Antique, and Estate

Antique Edwardian Engagement Ring on Carpet
An Estate Antique Vintage Ring from the Edwardian Era, circa 1910

The terms and dates below are correct as of the year 2023.

  • Vintage Jewelry: Jewelry made before 2003.
  • Antique Jewelry: Jewelry made before 1923. (Although technically not completely accurate, rings that are 80 years old are also usually labeled as antique.)
  • Estate Jewelry: Jewelry that is not brand new. Estate can also be vintage or antique.

Why the Definitions are so Important

Customer Looking at Large Diamond with Halo in Showroom with Afshin in Corner

When making a purchase of a piece of jewelry, understanding the difference can potentially save you a lot of money. Knowing the difference between these terms will help you decipher much of the information on the web. Age is very important to those who love vintage jewelry, and these terms are their building blocks.

Knowing the definitions will also give you a tremendous edge as a buyer. If you see the terms used incorrectly, it is a great warning that something is amiss. Vintage jewelry buying hinges strongly on trust and education. If something is missing with a jeweler’s education, you may need to start doubting the trustworthiness of the jewelry piece.

Please note: If a jewelry seller calls an 80-year-old ring an “antique,” don’t worry too much. As mentioned earlier, in the jewelry trade, anything over 80 years old can be labeled as an antique. If, however, your seller calls something that is younger than 80 years old an “antique”, this is a sign of great concern.

Jewelry definitions are also important because they will build your confidence as a buyer. Arming yourself with knowledge is the greatest way to buy effectively. Learn and memorize all the common jewelry terminology before you go shopping. You will save so much money, and you will also be able to make your purchase with so much more conviction.

Ask an Expert Jeweler

Examining an engagement ring with a loupe

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