Mistakes I Made When Starting My Antique Jewelry Collection

When you first get into antique jewelry the options seem overwhelming. There are so many iconic styles and types of jewelry from each era. Having a little bit of knowledge can go a long way to helping you secure a piece. 

These are the mistakes that I made when starting my collection. Hopefully this will save you some time and more importantly $$$. 

Common Mistakes

1. Being a Newb: I stumbled upon collecting antique jewelry by accident. I was searching Etsy for a fine jewelry piece to gift myself for my 30th and somehow ended up going down the highly glittery and decorated rabbit hole that is antique jewelry. Even if you want just one special piece, it’s important to at least know what era you like and if there’s a specific style that speaks to you. That will help you identify pieces but more importantly avoid…

2. Not doing price comparisons: You may know going in that antique jewelry is an investment. But don’t just accept the price without doing a little comparison shopping. The first piece I bought is absolutely lovely and I wear her proudly. But if I had done more research, I might have realized that I could find a similar version from the same era for a lower price.

3. Not knowing where to look: My friends know that I am an AVID eBay fan.

It’s my Taken- I will find you, I will bid on you, and I will win you.

No, the interface isn’t the prettiest, and there are sooo many listing it’s easy to get carpel tunnel in one sitting. But if you’re patient, you will find some true gems. Other places to look include the already mentioned Etsy, Ruby Lane, and Instagram itself. Until the platform cracks down on independent selling it’s an unregulated land of plenty. 

4. Letting FOMO take over: If you have FOMO you may want to consider collecting responsibly. It’s easy to get sucked into the very real hype of “this is a one of a kind, unique antique item, once it’s gone it’s gone.” While that may be true, I like to think that antique jewelry pieces go to those meant to wear them. If you are looking for a special piece, have faith that the right one will make its way to you. I guarantee that for every beautiful antique ring you pass up there will be another. 

5. Having trigger finger: Lord, am I guilty of this. I’m a collector at heart. So once I start I can’t stop. I’ll shop around and price compare and snootily take my own advice until I just start buying and buying. I should have slowed down and really curated vs just collected just to collect. This is how I am sitting with a ring tray full of rings that I just don’t wear and will send off to new loving caretakers.

6. Not knowing your style: Going back to the curation point, it’s important to know what style you like and what works for you. If you are hard on your hands, a delicate opal or pearl ring isn’t the best bet. If you type all day, a kapow-cocktail ring may weigh your fingers down too much. Learn what works for you and selectively choose your pieces wisely. 

7. You don’t have to buy it: Did you know that you don’t need to own something to appreciate its beauty? There are some styles that I love, but probably won’t ever buy. Admiring them on other people and appreciating the history and craftsmanship of antique jewelry is enough. Just because it’s beautiful doesn’t necessarily mean I need to make it mine. 

How to Build an Antique Collection You Love

Now that you know what the mistakes are, you can collect strategically. My top 3 tips:

1.Keep a running list of styles you want to add to your collection. These can be based on design, like a toi et moi ring, a specific gemstone, like a killer emerald, or an era, like a Georgian piece.

2. Decide if you’re going for quantity over quality. I don’t mean to skimp on quality and buy pieces that are in bad shape. Consider how you wear pieces. If you like to stack, then collecting several pieces in the $250-450 range might make more sense than saving up for a knockout piece that will run you several thousand.

3. Collect photos of the rings that make your heart sing. Notice if there are any specific styles, stones, or eras that suck you in. For example, I know that I would love to find more chunky diamond pieces in a size 7 specifically. I already have lots of show stoppers in a size 6 for my ring fingers, and my middle fingers are jealous. When you find a piece that gives you the feels, matches your wish list, and fits your budget, ACT. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that it’s something you’ve been wanting, and not just a delirious moment of impractical jewel-gluttony.

Happy collecting!

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