Nelson Coleman Jewelers

We are hiring Apply Now

Estate Jewelry

Four Tips for Buying Estate Jewelry

Previously owned, or, as I like to say, previously enjoyed jewelry, is a growing interest for buyers of both bridal and fashion jewelry. In other words, your grandma’s jewelry is fashionable again! 

According to Eileen McClelland of Instore Magazine, ‘”It’s important to let people know that well-made pieces are super wearable and can be worn everyday with the right care.”’

So, if you are new to buying old jewelry, here are a few basic tips to get you started.

Why Buying Estate Jewelry Has Become So Popular

When you buy estate jewelry, you get more than just a piece of jewelry. You’re buying a unique piece of history. Estate jewelry is often one-of-a-kind, meaning you won’t see anyone else wearing the same thing. And because it’s been pre-owned, it’s usually more affordable than buying new jewelry from a high-end designer. Also, estate jewelry offers originality and variety that you can’t find in stores. Whether you’re looking for a unique engagement ring or a statement necklace, buying estate jewelry is worth considering!


You may not know it, but estate jewelry is often indistinguishable from brand-new pieces. The durability of estate pieces often makes them worth having. Though minor repairs may be necessary over time, precious metals like gold never go out of style as long as they’re appropriately cared for by their owner. To keep your gorgeous metals healthy and tarnish-free, you’ll need to take extra steps like proper cleaning and storing to keep them looking new.


The ultimate way to invest in yourself is through purchasing estate jewelry. The quality of these pieces is often exceptional, and because these pieces are pre-owned, you’ll usually find them at a price point lower than they would retail for brand new! Estate jewelry has a timeless quality that makes it perfect for any style. From sleek and contemporary designs by high-end designers to vintage pieces, the likes of which you’ve never seen before, there’s something here sure to please everyone!

Unique Pieces

It’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamor of new jewelry, but you might want something with more history. Estate pieces have an exciting past behind them! You can find out everything about your precious diamond or gemstone by researching its background before purchasing it.

Know Your Definitions

You have probably seen advertisements for estate, vintage, and antique jewelry; but what do those categories mean?

What is Estate Jewelry?

Estate jewelry refers to any items that were previously owned whether vintage, antique, modern, or contemporary. Even if it is only a year old, if it is pre-owned, it is considered to be estate jewelry!

Why Purchase Estate Jewelry?

You can’t go wrong with estate jewelry! You’ll find something that suits your tastes with high-quality craftsmanship and elaborate designs. And the rare gemstones? Well, they’re just extra points for value.

What is Antique Jewelry?

For a piece of jewelry to be considered antique, it must be 100 years or older.

Perks of Antique Jewelry

If you are looking for the old-fashioned quality and taste of yesteryear, it’s time to get your hands on some vintage jewelry pieces. Whether you’re looking to start an antique collection or own something special from the Victorian era – antique jewelry is an ideal way of improving your collection without breaking the bank.

What is Vintage Jewelry?

Vintage jewelry is not old enough to be an antique but not young enough to be modern or contemporary. The accepted rule for vintage jewelry ranges from 30 to 50 years old, but under 100 years old. Modern jewelry is generally anything made in the last 30 years or so.

Restored Pieces

A general guideline regarding antique or vintage jewelry is that any restoration will void the “vintage” or “antique” label if more than 50% of the original piece has been changed. The law varies from country to country, but generally speaking, you can still be sold an item as an “antique” even after repairs have taken place unless the entire piece was replaced with something new (which would make them modern).

Buy Antique and Estate Jewelry That Interests You

If you’re at a flea market, in a consignment shop, or in a jewelry store, go for the piece that speaks to you! Focus on the pieces that you know you would enjoy wearing. Purchasing an estate piece of jewelry is amazing because the items are unique, you aren’t likely to see anyone else wearing it, and, in many cases, you will probably pay less for that estate piece than a new piece of designer jewelry.

Look the Piece Over

When you are considering buying a specific item that you have fallen in love with, ask the seller questions about its condition. Inspect the piece with the seller. Most pieces will and should look old since they have been worn in the past. Check the different features of the item. Look at any hallmarks or stamps on the metal. Some features to consider:

  • Does the chain feel strong?
  • Is the ring shank in good condition? Check the thickness!
  • Are the prongs tight over the stones?
  • Are there any chipped stones? Can you see abrasions on the stones?

You may still want to buy the piece but go into the purchase with your eyes wide open. In many cases, jewelers will make necessary repairs before putting an item in the case. The tag on the jewelry may contain a qualifier such as “Sold as is.” Be sure to double check!

Don’t Treat Pre-Owned Pieces Like Investments

Steer away from buying estate pieces as an investment. Buying a piece of jewelry is not like investing in the stock market or real estate. While some jewelry pieces may appreciate over time, you should probably avoid purchasing the piece for investment purposes. Buy what you love instead!

Learn the History

When considering a piece, ask the seller if he/she knows the provenance or story behind the piece. The more questions you ask, the more you’ll know, and the more you will fall in love with your new acquisition!!!

Where to Buy Estate Jewelry

Estate jewelry is a beautiful and unique way to add to your jewelry collection. But where should you go to find the perfect piece? Nelson Coleman is an excellent option for estate jewelry. We have a wide selection of vintage and antique pieces and a team of experts who can help you find the perfect piece for your collection. Working with a reputable dealer with experience in authentication and evaluating vintage and antique jewelry is essential. You can also purchase vintage or estate jewelry online from Nelson Coleman. If you prefer, you can visit our store in person. Whichever way you choose, you’re sure to find beautiful antique, vintage, and estate jewelry at Nelson Coleman – as well as a qualified team ready to assist you.

Happy hunting!!

Peggy Coleman, Nelson Coleman Jewelers

Leave a Reply

Save Your Jewelry