What Makes Jewelry “Vintage”

If you are intrigued by the look of jewelry from days gone by, you may have run into the term “vintage” when perusing ebay or a number of other collectors’ sites. I’ve seen a variety of opinions on what makes an item “vintage” versus “modern” or “antique”. There is no hard-and-fast rule that helps one define the starting and ending point for vintage items. Normally, vintage jewelry is jewelry that is between 30 to 100 years old. Jewelry that is older than 100 years is termed antique. But this is a loose guideline since some jewelry from the 80’s era (which may not have reached the 30 year mark yet) is still found listed as “vintage” simply because it is a faddish style that came and went with the 1980’s fashion trends.

There are a wide range of standards set to describe the dateline when searching for vintage items online. For instance, Etsy.com categorizes any item that is 20 years or older as vintage, while to my knowledge ebay does not give any criteria for using the term “vintage” in an ad. In the clothing world, I have noticed that a clothing item is considered vintage if it dates from 1920 to 1960. After that date, an item is considered to be retro, not vintage.

My personal standard for categorizing an item is the “30 year rule”. If an item is between 30 and 99 years old, it is vintage.

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