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Guide to Buying and Selling Gorgeous Vintage Jewelry

Between heart locket necklaces, charm bracelets, dangle earrings, and more, there are a million and one different styles of jewelry to choose from. As one of the simplest ways to accessorize, everyone can benefit from having a variety of pieces on their vanity. But not just jewelry from the 21st century—what would be fun about that? Investing in antique jewelry means one-of-a-kind pieces and unique styles.

From die-hard vintage gold jewelry wearers to those looking to layer antique styles with their modern collection, people around the globe have fallen in love with wearing vintage jewelry. Now is a better time than ever to turn an estate jewelry hobby into a business! 

Learn all there is to know about buying pieces and building a collection of beautiful, timeless antique jewelry, and discover inside tips and tricks for selling antiques and setting up your shop. Soon, you'll be peddling your pieces like a pro!

Is There a Market for Selling Vintage Jewelry?

Just like with many money-making collectibles, there’s a high demand for antique jewelry! Whether you're looking to make a few hundred dollars on a vintage gold jewelry set or dream of setting up a booth at a vendor mall, there's always a market for selling vintage jewelry. It's just a matter of connecting with the right people at different antique mall events, forums, and stores.

Reasons People Love Vintage Jewelry

Display of handmade and vintage jewelry

Many people don estate jewelry and antique accessories due to the sentimental value attached. From vintage gold jewelry passed down through generations to an heirloom locket holding a picture of someone's beloved, each piece is full of memories. Even those buying a second-hand piece with no personal attachment can feel the love and care someone once had for it.   

Investing in antique jewelry is more than a style choice; it's environmentally friendly! In a world where "old" things can often end up in landfills, buying vintage jewelry gives these pieces a second life. Though it may seem small, sustainably shopping for estate jewelry can make a huge impact.  

Buying antique jewelry also allows you to have a uniquely curated jewelry collection. When you skip the same-old jewelry in the modern market, you suddenly have pieces no one could dream of replicating, making each vintage gold jewelry piece all the more special. Just learn how to shop at an antique mall, and soon, your jewelry box will be the envy of your friends.  

The 3 Popular Kinds of Old Jewelry

While the terms are often used interchangeably, as a seller, it's important to know the difference between vintage, antique, and estate jewelry:

1. Vintage Jewelry

Sterling silver jewelry

Vintage jewelry must be at least 20 to 30 years old, so anything made in 2004 and earlier. Potential buyers often use the term vintage jewelry to describe any piece regardless of age, but knowing this difference can help you accurately price something.   

2. Antique Jewelry

Antique jewelry describes a piece that is at least 100 years old. Sellers will often stress the age of something, using the term antique just to clarify how old (and rare) the find really is. 

Stand-Out Antique Jewelry Eras

  • Georgian (1714-1837)

  • Art Nouveau (1890-1910)

  • Art Deco (1915-1935)

3. Estate Jewelry

Elegant antique jewelry

The term estate jewelry is used for any piece of second-hand jewelry, whether it's antique pearls, vintage gold jewelry, or a new pair of earrings someone decided to pass on. For example, if someone wore an engagement ring for a couple of months before deciding to sell it, the piece would be estate jewelry, even if it was made recently. It does not mean that all estate jewelry is found at estate sales—though that is a good place to search!

Can You Make Money Selling Antique Jewelry?

It's important to note that while not every antique or estate jewelry piece has a high monetary value, it can be a lucrative business to enter. Some collectors only invest in rare pieces priced at a high value. If you stock up on a wide variety of price points so that there's something for every kind of budget, you can have a steady income and make your living off selling gorgeous vintage jewelry.

Where Can You Find Vintage Jewelry?

Vintage earrings

Vintage jewelry can be found all around—as long as you know where to look. If you're interested in growing your collection before starting your business or looking to make a little extra money, you can search for antique jewelry in estate sales and online auctions or at flea markets, family storage spaces, and your local antique mall. With a keen eye for spotting estate jewelry and a little business savvy, anyone can find desirable vintage jewelry.

3 Things to Consider When Buying Vintage Jewelry

When you do happen upon a piece of estate jewelry at an Illinois vintage event, there are a few things you have to consider before adding the vintage gold jewelry to your collection:  

1. Designers and Hallmarks

The first step to buying antique jewelry is identifying the designer and discovering the item's origins. Most, if not all, pieces will have something called a hallmark—a stamp or engraving hidden within the vintage jewelry that can list helpful background information such as production location, metal content, or the year it was made. Locating the hallmark can help you authenticate the age of the piece and determine rarity and value before you sell. 

2. Materials and Details

Vintage and antique necklaces

Don't get swept away by the overall look of a piece of estate jewelry! Remember to take a closer look at the functional details to decide if it's worth adding to your collection. Check that clasps are functional, links and chains are unbroken, and the settings are intact. 

When it comes to antique jewelry, the base metal material is key. Make sure you inquire directly about the metal to prevent any purchases of cheap, gold fill or nickel jewelry. You want all your pieces to stand the test of time, and for that, you need to invest in high-quality vintage gold jewelry and stunning sterling silver. 

If the general structure of a piece is unsalvageable, don't toss it aside! The gemstones can likely be repurposed for new, customized pieces or sold separately. Depending on the material and current gold prices, it can also be melted down and sold to interested buyers at your local Florida vendor mall

3. Era and Style

Don't just buy any old antique jewelry you find. Instead, consider what styles and eras you'd like to showcase. 

This can help you narrow in on your goal clientele, making you the go-to seller for specific design periods, from Art Deco vintage gold jewelry to retro ‘70s necklaces. From there, you can research the most popular patterns, shapes, and motifs from that era as you shop around an antique mall location.

Necessary Tools for Vintage Jewelry Sellers

Antique necklaces, bracelets, and earrings

Whether you're renting a showcase at a Chicago antique mall or investing in vintage gold jewelry, having these tools on hand sets the experts and novices apart: 

Jewelry loupe: tiny magnifier to inspect vintage gold jewelry pieces up close when shopping

Display methods: soft, velvet-lined jewelry boxes and display hangers to show off pieces

Pride guides: subscribing to antique jewelry price guides can help you identify newly found pieces and prices with accuracy

5 Steps to Setting Up Your Antique Jewelry Business

Now that you have a little guidance on how to shop for vintage jewelry pieces, it's time to set up shop! Follow these helpful steps, and soon, your business will be up and running:

Step 1: Choose a Niche

Antique mall display of vintage jewelry and handbags

One of the fastest ways to grow clientele and make a name for yourself in the antique jewelry business is to have a niche. This could mean anything from having a section of your booth dedicated to vintage cameo rings to becoming an expert in rare Art Deco designs. Not only will this encourage return customers who love your specialized collection, but it'll also help you stand out among other vintage jewelry sellers.

It's also easier to narrow in on a specific design era or type of vintage jewelry when first starting out. Rather than collecting everything you see without understanding what actually sells or what people want can be risky. But, if you become a vintage gold jewelry dealer or only collect Georgian earrings, you'll soon be a trusted seller for people interested in those items. 

Step 2: Get Your Pieces Appraised

The key to creating a trustworthy reputation for you and your vintage jewelry business is having each item appraised. The experts will look at every detail, such as material quality, artistry, condition, and historical value, to give it an accurate value.  

After it's authenticated and valued, you can set your own informed pricing. Don't forget to keep the official paperwork for each estate jewelry piece on hand to show to interested clients.

Best Estate Jewelry Appraisal Services

Vintage bracelets, rings, and necklaces

If you know of a local mom-and-pop appraisal business you trust, bring in your collection of vintage gold jewelry. If not, there are plenty of revered online resources where you can either send in the item or photographs. Before you sell your estate jewelry collectibles in Illinois, consider sending them to an appraisal service like these: 

Step 3: Clean and Polish the Jewelry 

When it comes to selling estate jewelry, presentation is everything. That's why it's important to clean and polish each piece of vintage gold jewelry that comes your way before becoming a vendor. With a little bit of research into the best practices for cleaning specific metals and gemstones, you can restore every piece to its timeless shine.

How to Clean Vintage Jewelry

Antique and vintage necklace display

Before using a cleaning solution, check your vintage gold jewelry for dust and clean off any residue or particles with a soft brush. To avoid scratching and scraping, take your time and use gentle motions to get rid of any debris. 

Not all antique jewelry can be treated equally when choosing a cleaning solution. The type you should use all comes down to the metal. 

To bring back the striking glow of platinum or the glamorous shine of vintage gold jewelry, you can use a blend of ammonia and water. For silver antique jewelry, gently apply a diluted baking soda mixture to restore the sheen. Make sure to do your research for estate jewelry with gemstones and pearls before cleaning them with any product; you wouldn't want them to get loose or damaged!

Pro tip: don't forget to dry your vintage jewelry, as any leftover liquid can damage the piece. Flip the vintage gold jewelry upside down to let moisture drip out on its own before polishing it with a soft cloth and displaying it at your Indiana vendor mall booth.  

Step 4: Find Your Seller Method

Once your estate jewelry collection is clean, priced, and ready to go, it's time to decide how to sell your stock! There are a few methods that those in the antique business declare tried and true, so it's all about finding the one that works for you. 

Many people prefer setting up shop online. From auction websites to starting your own page, uploading each piece of vintage gold jewelry can help you reach collectors around the world, all from the comfort of your own home. 

There's nothing better than shopping for unique vintage jewelry in person, so set up a booth or glass showcase in an antique mall to attract those happy shoppers. Vendor malls draw in a wide range of customers, from dedicated vintage gold jewelry collectors to families looking for a weekend activity, so your pieces will reach a wide and varied group of people. As an antique mall vendor, you'll be responsible for stocking, organizing, and updating your collection, but our trusted employees will handle the day-to-day business. 

Step 5: Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!

Estate jewelry

In order to have a successful antique jewelry business, you have to advertise! Consider creating fun and engaging posts for social media to gain online attraction, host vintage gold jewelry sales throughout the year for different holidays, or start an SEO website blog—the options are endless. As long as you put yourself and your estate jewelry out there, the customers will come. 

From vintage Jackie Kennedy pearls to mid-century modern earrings and more, there are tons of antique jewelry pieces in the world waiting to find their new home. If you're interested in setting up an estate jewelry business, it's time to rent an antique mall booth. With our tips, tricks, and step-by-step help, you'll be giving your antique jewelry a second life in no time. 

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