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SHINY GOODNESS: A GUIDE TO VINTAGE JEWELLERY

SHINY GOODNESS: A GUIDE TO VINTAGE JEWELLERY

Want to add some antique bling to your jewellery collection but have no idea where to start? Grays in London is a world-renowned antiques market: we asked one of their top dealers, Olly Gerrish, director of The Antique Jewellery Company, for her expert buying advice.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

“The best place to start is the internet. Research what type of piece you’d like to buy from what era and get to know the characteristics of that period. For example Art Deco pieces from 1920 to 1935 are characterised by angular lines, while the Art Nouveau period (1890 to 1915) is all about floral and animal motifs.”

TALK TO DEALERS

“Find a reputable dealer like Grays, or visit an antiques fair – Antiques For Everyone is a good one and it’s held at the NEC in Birmingham three times a year. I know people who’ve bought real gems on eBay but make sure you check the seller ratings before you buy. There are a lot of reproductions out there so only a reputable dealer will sell pieces you can be sure are original. Ask them lots of questions about pieces you’re interested in – we’re there for a reason. Vintage jewellery is a very competitive market so we keep prices competitive.”

GET TO KNOW THE PIECE

“Always check the back of a piece of jewellery. Genuine vintage items – especially diamond jewellery – are always finished beautifully on the back. The back tends to be filed whereas modern pieces tend to be finished by drilling. And run your finger over the piece. If it feels sharp it’s probably new, but when something is vintage it feels smooth and nicely worn. Avoid pieces that have obviously been soldered with lead (it will be a dark grey colour) because this eats into material like gold. Besides, there is laser technology now which can repair pieces without ruining them.”

EDWARDIAN RULES

“In my opinion, pieces from the Edwardian era in the UK and the Belle Epoque period in France are the finest vintage you can buy. These pieces are characterised by soft, sinuous lines and it’s the lightest, prettiest jewellery. Tank bracelets are also a good bet. They’re heavy, chunky gold bracelets from the Forties period.”

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