Antique and Estate Jewelry

Antique and Estate Jewelry – What’s the Difference?

This question can be answered with just one word—AGE. A piece of jewelry is considered antique if it is at least 100 years old. Estate jewelry simply means pre-owned. Whether someone in your family bought it 99 years ago and passed it down or you purchased it at a jewelry store this morning, it is an estate piece. Age has absolutely no bearing on value; that is determined by collectors in the market.

Recognized Jewelry Periods


The Victorian Era spanned Queen Victoria’s rule of England from 1837 until 1901. Themes common to Victorian jewelry are nature, nature, sentimentality, and symbolism. Known for keeping their feelings to themselves, Victorians poured their emotions into their jewelry, including hair jewelry, mourning jewelry, name and message jewelry, hand jewelry, and love brooches.

Art Nouveau

Popular during the late 1800s to early 1900s, Art Nouveau jewelry featured many of the same characteristics of its counterparts in art, furniture, and sculpture. Popular themes were organic, curvilinear patterns that were based on natural forms and often featured flowers, plants, insects, or birds. The jewelry was often made from bone, brass, wood, or enamel.


The Edwardian period, named for King Edward of Britain, ran from 1901 to about 1920. This period is best known for extensive use of filigree techniques, which gave the jewelry a delicate, elegant, lacy look. Diamonds and platinum were essential ingredients in Edwardian jewelry.

Art Deco

This period began in the early 1920s and ran until about 1940, taking its name from the 1925 Exposition Internationales des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. It is characterized by striking geometrics–circles, triangles, squares and rectangles, often woven together to create intricate designs.


The Retro period began in France in the mid-1930s and lasted through the 1940s. Jewelry from this period was much larger and bolder than previous periods, often featuring highly polished rose, yellow and green gold with massive aquamarines, citrines or amethysts, accented with smaller rubies, sapphires and diamonds.

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