Antique and vintage jewellery collections often hold a lot of sentimental value so it is important that you get the right amount of money if you ever do consider selling. Take the time to visit auctions, jewellery stores, jewellery specialists and antique fairs to ask for advice and to give you a broader spectrum of knowledge of the value of your items.

Antique jewellery is typically over 100 years old. Some valuers and auctioneers however, may differ in opinion of the definition of antique and vintage jewellery.

When valuing your own jewellery collection you may want to break it down into five key elements, below is a useful guide.

• Material – Metal and stone type.
• Craftsmanship – What craftsmanship does the piece show?
• Condition – Is the item in good condition?
• Era – Looking at tell-tale signs, can you get an idea of which era the jewellery is from?
• Desirability – Is this piece desirable in today’s market?

Fine jewellery is made with precious metals such as gold, silver or platinum and stones such as emerald, diamond, rubies as well as many others. This type of jewellery is therefore understandably more valuable than costume jewellery. Costume jewellery refers to jewellery made from non-precious metals or precious metals mixed with base metals, and usually features non-precious or semi-precious stones.

It is important to identify the authenticity of the metal and stone to determine its true market value. Hallmarks are usually the best indication of how old the item is and the metal’s purity, find out more information here.

Gold is highly valued in today’s market, and so anything that is made of Gold will usually sell well even if there is damage to the item. Diamonds are one of the most valuable stone types, valued using the four C’s of diamond grading: Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat weight. Most jewellers can value this for you in-store.

Pieces that have exquisite detail and craftsmanship will always help increase the value of an antique item. Buyers are often looking for jewellery which has character and tells a story about the era it is from. Unusual shapes and styles are more intriguing and therefore more highly priced to investors of antique jewellery.

It is often worth investing in a clean-up of jewellery before taking it to auction. Make sure the company who cleans the product are experienced in dealing with antique jewellery, also repair any damage using a jewellery restorer. As is to be expected, all antique jewellery will be slightly worn and so if the jewellery is in pristine condition, then this may be an indication that it is a replicated item.

Jewellery has changed a great deal over the years and different styles signify different eras of time. Learning the specific traits of specific eras can really help you to get an idea of when year your collection was made. Popular periods of antique jewellery are listed below:

Georgian (1760-1837): A lot of Georgian jewellery had portraits and nature inspired designs, it is also very rare.

Victorian (1837-1900): Usually split into early, mid and late periods. Characteristically classically designed and know for the creation of mourning jewellery. Lace pins were also worn by the women of this time and yellow gold was most popular at this time.

Edwardian (1901-1915): Diamonds and pearls were popular stones at this time as well as brilliant gemstones. Lace pins were also worn during this period and jewellery was often a feminine style.

Art Deco (1920-1935): This movement is known for geometric shapes and bold colours. Long necklaces and chokers, bracelets and dress clips were also popular. Silver was the most popular metal type at this time.

Most antique jewellery is highly desirable because of its rarity and individuality and all of the elements above can contribute to the allure of your item. If the jewellery pieces are part of a set then this can change the value considerably, as can the provenance of an item.

Any designer jewellery will also hold significantly more value than its counterpart. Take a look at websites of companies who sell antique jewellery such as George Pragnell for an idea of price ranges.