Why Buy Second Hand Jewellery?


There are so many wonderful jewellery designers, it can seem silly to buy "used" jewellery. But jewellery, like fashion, goes through fads and trends, and what the shops are selling may not be to your personal taste. You may have developed a collection of mainstream contemporary pieces, and are ready to branch out into your own unique style. You may have lost a loved old heirloom, and want to replace it with something from a similar era. Whatever the reason, buying second-hand jewellery is an excellent way to add to your collection.


Second Hand Jewellery is Distinctive


When you've found your personal style and taste in jewellery, you're really at the mercy of fashion trends to source new pieces, if you shop at traditional jewellers who only carry new inventory. If what is popular today isn't what you love, then you have the second-hand selections--the jewellery world is, if not your Mikimoto pearls, at least your oyster and you can find whatever you love. Think about all the times you've complimented a friend on a really striking necklace or bracelet, and you've been told that it was inherited, or it's second-hand. Older jewellery has a pizzazz all its own, and it stands out among the trends. Once you've determined your style, you can look to send-jewellery for pieces that suit you, and learn what are the trends in jewellery design in different periods.


Whilst many designs these days have an old reproduction style to them, the originals - if in great condition - can be fabulous and commonly are made without compromise. Often they have what’s known as a patina - a lustre - of age and wear that can’t be hurried.


Second Hand Jewellery can be a bargain


Every now and again you can pick up a bargain piece - remember that not as much VAT is due on second hand items so this may work to your advantage. One has to remember that condition is imperative, and some older pieces may be priced cheaply to account for worn settings or thin bands. It’s always worth studying a piece with an eyeglass and certainly buying from a reputable shop who can guide you.


Most Popular Second Hand Styles


Most antique and vintage jewellery is defined by the period from which it originated--most commonly, Edwardian, Art Deco, Retro, and Modern.


Edwardian Jewellery Style


Edwardian Jewellery dates from the late Victorian era through the reign of King Edward and to the 1920s. Platinum had just become the "it" metal for settings and mounts; it was rare, expensive, and the technology necessary to work with it had only recently been invented. If cool colours and some liking for the ornate are your style, Edwardian might be for you. Diamonds and pearls, in intricate filigree settings of platinum or white gold, were set in rings and brooches, but some Edwardian necklaces make an appearance towards the end of the period--as necklines drifted south, a lady needed a little something to decorate her decolletage.


Art Deco Style


Art Deco followed Edwardian--the fancy detail and filigree, white metals, and diamonds remained popular, but geometric shapes and bright gemstones announced the arrival of the modern woman. One way to tell the difference between Edwardian and Art Deco are the stones--Art Deco jewellery features calibre-cut stones--stones cut to fit the piece and placed tightly together in the setting.


Retro Jewellery Style


Retro jewellery heralded the end of the War--big, bold pieces in yellow and rose gold replaced the dainty work of earlier times. The economies of the West had yet to bounce back, so semi-precious stones--aquamarine, citrine, and tanzanite--were used in pieces that represented birds, animals, and flowers. Jean Schlumberger at Tiffany became famous for these life-affirming jewels after the destruction of the War. Modern jewellery is a melting pot of earlier styles, as well as other cultures besides that of Europe and Great Britain.


Modern Era Jewellery


The Modern era, which really ended in the 1980s, is big and textured, and can have any sort of stones or none at all. Organic shapes are common, and collectors mix and match their pieces.


How To Choose Good Second-Hand Jewellery


These suggestions from an American jewellery dealer are good to keep in mind before you buy. There is plenty of second hand costume jewellery that is wonderful and extravagant and worthy of collecting, but if your interest is fine--genuine stones and pure metals--you want to ensure that's what you're buying.


What To Look For


When you're buying pre-owned jewellery, you want it to look it--not in terms of wear and tear, but for the appropriate ageing of the metal. Bring a jeweller's loupe--a small magnifying glass--with you. Look for the stamps that guarantee authenticity. An old ring should have a groove worn at the bottom of the finger; the prongs should show signs of wearing down. A pendant necklace should show some degrading at the bail (the decorative loop that descends from the chain and holds the pendant). Bear in mind, a good jewellery may have repaired these elements, so just ask the seller their thoughts




People used to be smaller than they are now--a ring could be really tiny, or the size H to K common today, with not much in between. The larger sizes were made to be worn over gloves. Georgian jewellery is lightweight compared to later periods; if you find a heavy Georgian chain it's probably fake. Also, platinum was not used in jewellery until the early 1900s, so anything old and platinum is also not authentic. Cloisonne, or enamel, jewellery, should show erosion of the enamel. It is notoriously difficult to repair, so beware pristine "vintage" cloisonne.


If It Seems Too Good To Be True…


It is. A really low-priced piece of second-hand jewellery may not be what you think, so unless you can authenticate it through a third party it's best avoided.


Let's Get Started With Second-Hand, First Quality Jewellery


Diamond and sapphire drop earrings are a wonderful beginning to a second-hand collection. They're big enough to go out to dressy nights out, but not so over the top that you can't dress them down for a great night out. These are the epitome of Art Deco style, with the calibre-cut sapphires, platinum setting, and delicate filigree surrounding the diamonds.


Victorian jewellery doesn't get much attention, probably because the Queen stopped wearing much jewellery after the death of Prince Albert, and jewellers were in a bit of a lull for years. This stunning ring, with a 1.90 carat centre stone, dates from the late Victorian era, when this sort of vertical plaque ring came into vogue. The surrounding diamonds are either rose or old cut--the prevalent cuts in those days. Gold charms are always charming, whether they're loaded onto a bracelet or, for a more modern look, put on a necklace.


Charms are personal and fun, and if you're just starting your second hand collection, a great entry point--prices are modest and the options for charms are endless.


Brooches are almost forgotten in contemporary jewellery shops; they're too "old-fashioned" or something. This baroque, black and white pearl and diamond brooch is fantastic-it can dress up a jumper or hold its own on a formal coat or dress.


Part of the excitement in collecting second hand jewellery is the thrill of the hunt--you never know what you're going to find in jewellery shops, estate auctions, and online. Buying anything online has inherent risk; if you do so, ensure that you're dealing with a reputable jeweller before you complete the transaction.


Whether you are completing your collection of second-hand jewellery or just getting interested in starting a collection, Jacobs is here to guide you through choosing and purchasing your fine pieces. We invite you to visit our shop and view our collection, or peruse online, and contact us with any questions. We are happy to reserve a second-hand piece if jewellery if you would like to examine it personally.