1. Investigate the seller
When looking for vintage jewelry online using websites such as eBay or Craigslist, the first thing to do is investigate the seller and look at other items for sale. If the seller owns 10 of the same vintage ring, it’s safe to assume that it’s a fake. Most vintage jewelry is one-of-a-kind, so bulk ordering is not an option.
Also, if available, go through the feedback of a seller and view what other buyers have said about the items bought. If a seller has sold vintage items before, you can get an idea of how satisfied buyers were with the items bought.
2. Ask the right questions
Correspond with the seller – you have to ask a few questions about the jewelry in order to decide whether or not it is authentic. One thing to ask is how the seller came across the vintage jewelry. Look for a viable story that would explain how the vintage jewelry came into the seller’s possession. For example, did it come from the process of vintage hunting, a family heirloom or purchased at an estate sale?
An honest, good seller can offer some type of information regarding where the vintage jewelry came from, as well as some overall information on the location and date the vintage jewelry was acquired and its general condition.
3. Check for a mark
Vintage jewelers almost always left a maker’s mark on the piece somewhere. So, if the vintage jewelry is claimed to have been made before the 1950s, you should definitely check for some kind of mark, like a small icon of the maker’s initials.
Follow up with some online research. There are a lot of websites that post pictures of different well-known vintage jewelers’ marks with details of the origins and craftsmen behind the varied vintage jewelry pieces.
4. Search for patina
“Patina” basically refers to the sheen that happens after years of use. Although sellers can have vintage jewelry restored, most vintage jewelry is sold as-is in order to not damage the silver, gold or other metal.
In other words, your vintage jewelry should show signs of wear. Dents, a lack of shine and tarnish are all common signs of the real deal. If a piece of vintage jewelry looks brand new, find out from the seller if it has been restored. Otherwise, just assume that it’s a fake.
5. The price
Tread with caution if the price is too good to be true. True vintage jewelry have serious heritage and are made to last, therefore they are not going to be sold for a few dollars on eBay. Rather, compare the price to the quality, metal and stones of the piece.
6. Visit an estate sale
If you are concerned about purchasing vintage jewelry online or from a dealer, become your own dealer and go to an estate sale in your area.
Look through the goods for marks of a true vintage jewelry piece. If a piece of vintage jewelry is being shown as genuine, request to see the jewelry certification. If there is no certification, negotiate a better price before buying the piece, then go to an appraiser to ensure that you purchased the real thing. Estate sales are perfect because you will know for sure that the vintage jewelry came from a personal collection.