Boston Buyers Club

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Tips to Buy Estate Jewelry

Written by: Cynthia Findlay Antiques

Buying a vintage piece of jewelry can be a complicated process. There is a lot of room for sellers to skirt buyers on the details, and it is easy for a buyer to get scammed if she is not careful. These tips are designed to help the amateur find beautiful estate jewellery for purchase, and vet each piece to determine the quality.

Ask Questions

The first thing a smart buyer does is ask a lot of questions about the piece. Art deco rings have a special artistic significance, and if your dealer doesn’t understand these pieces it’s a dead giveaway that you’re not dealing with someone reputable. Always ask how the seller found the piece, because that’s another clue to its authenticity.

Inspect the Piece

If you know enough about the era, you can actually approximate when a piece came from by sight. Certain styles or accents tended to be popular throughout the history of jewellery, for example art deco pieces used a lot of geometrical shapes and gold. It also helps to look up some vintage rings online so you can get a feel for the style you are looking for.


The “patina” refers to the normal wear and tear one might expect on a piece of vintage jewellery. These pieces are usually sold as-is to prevent damaging the metals by cleaning them with chemicals. Don’t get scared of tarnish, that’s a sign that the piece is real.

Buy from Estate Dealers

It’s always best to buy from a reputable antique dealer if possible. One on one sales are certainly popular means of coming across jewellery, but the process is difficult to verify. You will also find certificates of authenticity when you shop with dealers, a reassurance you won’t get with individuals.