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.

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.

  • Cartier 18k Yellow Gold Triple Ring - 14439 TV
    Cartier Gold Triple Ring. Circa 1970 (Vintage)
  • Signed Buccellati Diamond Openwork White Gold Engagement Ring - 13836 TV
    Buccellati Diamond Ring. Circa 1960
  • 3.04ct Diamond and Platinum Engagement Ring - Osborne Ring 13928 TV
    Osborne Ring. Circa 1960
  • Vintage French Oval Cut Sapphire Ring - Arezza Ring 14256 TV
    Arezza Ring. Circa 1965
  • Vintage Diamond Cluster Floral Motif Ring - Chard Ring 14218 TV
    Chard Ring. Circa 1960
  • 5.57ct GIA-Certified Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Ring - Holliswood Ring 14143 TV
    Holliswood Ring. Circa 1960
  • 4.25ct Old European Cut Engagement Ring - Dutchess Ring 14034 TV
    Dutchess Ring. Circa 1950
  • Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Studs 1.80ct - Calverton Earrings 13795 TV
    Calverton Earrings. Circa 1980
  • Vintage 18k White Gold 0.71ct Old European Cut Diamond Engagement Ring 13519-TV-1000PX
    Virginia Ring. Circa 1950

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 2022, antique jewelry is any piece that was created before 1922.

  • 5 Stone Antique Rings Primrose Ring Top Side View
    Primrose Ring. Circa 1900 (Antique, Edwardian era)
  • Natural Green Emerald Ring Elmfield Ring Top View
    Elmfield ring. Circa 1900
  • Sapphire and Diamond Ring Clovelly Row Ring Top View
    Coply Ring. Circa 1900 (Antique, Edwardian Era)
  • Diamond Cluster Ring Wentworth Ring Top View
    Wentworth Ring. Circa 1900 (Antique, Edwardian Era)
  • Antique French Ring Beaumont Ring Top View
    Beaumont Ring. Circa 1900 (Antique, Art Nouveau)
  • Antique Diamond Ring McKinney Ring 14338
    McKinney Ring. Circa 1900 (Antique, Edwardian Era)
  • Antique Diamond Ring Mirage Ring 14336 Top View
    Mirage Ring. Circa 1900 (Antique, Edwardian Era)
  • Sapphire And Diamond Elongated Halo Antique Ring Circa 1900 Top View 14319-TV-1000PX
    Villagio Ring. Circa 1900 (Antique, Edwardian Era)
  • Edwardian Five Stone Diamond Engagement Ring - Inwood Ring 14316 TV
    Inwood Ring. Circa 1905 (Antique, Edwardian Era)

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.

  • Princess and Radiant Cut Diamond Pendant - Malba Pendant dyl34 TV
    Malba Pendant
  • Princess Cut Diamond Eternity Band - Lausanne Band 13905 TV
    Lausanne Band
  • Hexagon Diamond Ring Birmingham Ring Top View
    Birmingham Ring
  • Pink Sapphire and Diamond Engagement Ring - Valencia Ring
    Valencia Ring
  • Cabochon Natural Sapphire and Diamond Earrings - Concord Earrings
    Concord Earrings
  • Kunzite Ring with Sapphire Halo and Yellow Gold 13316 TV
    Marvão Ring
  • Emerald and Diamond Ring Ogden Ring 13267
    Ogden Ring. Circa 1950
  • Procida Ring Top View
    Procida Ring. Circa 1970
  • Front Verona Amethyst Ring
    Verona Ring. Circa 1910

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 2022.

  • Vintage Jewelry: Jewelry made before 2002.
  • Antique Jewelry: Jewelry made before 1922. (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 as an “antique,” don’t worry too much. As mentioned earlier, in the jewelry trade, anything over 80 years can be labeled as an antique. If, however, your seller calls something that is younger than 80 years old as an “antique”, this is a sign of great concern.

Jewelry definitions are also important because it 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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