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Saturday, June 14, 2008

IS VINTAGE JEWELRY A GOOD INVESTMENT?

The answer to that question varies. It's a good investment if

1) it's a designer piece
2) the designer's jewelry is scarce
3) the condition is excellent
4) if you're buying to wear, invest or sell

On the right, is a superb designer piece in the Juliana style from DeLissa & Elster. What a gorgeous set of vintage jewelry! All stones are present, the colors are outstanding, and the design is unique.
Making it even more valuable as an investment is the fact that it's a 5-piece parure! Wow...now that scarce. It consists of necklace, bracelet, earrings and 2 brooches. This was a fabulous vintage jewelry investment. It was being sold on ebay with a "buy it now" price of $1850. The person who purchased it made an accepted offer of $1400.

Getting back to the criteria as to whether vintage jewelry is a good investment, here's the thing: there's lots of beautiful vintage jewelry out there but in all cases, if the vintage jewelry you're thinking of buying isn't a designer signed piece, then it's not worth as much as those that are designer signed. So when it comes to investing in vintage jewelry, look for the designer's name. That said, some designers fetch a higher dollar than others. Often that will have to do with scarcity. A Schiaparelli is harder to come by than a Weiss. Miriam Haskell is quite widely available but some of her pieces command huge dollars, especially if they are sets using her baroque pearls. Sherman jewelry is highly sought after but some colors will get much more money than others. And regardless of designer, sets (known as demis - 2 pieces - or parures if 3 pieces or more) are of much greater interest to collectors.


Coco Chanel was one of Schiaparelli's main competitors and like Schiaparelli, Chanel vintage jewelry also fetches a high dollar. There were 21 bids placed on eBay for the Chanel 80's cuff bracelet on the right and it ultimately sold for $2025 ... and it's not even gold! It's gold-plated. I find it astonishing in some respects that buyers will pay more for gold-plated or gold-filled items that are designer signed vintage than they will for real gold and diamonds but not designer signed.



Here's an example: the Cartier - inspired bangle shown in the photo below which we are selling from OUR SHOP AT RUBY LANE is comprised of 6 channels of solid Yellow, White and Rose gold. This bangle was custom made in the 1980's, and weighs 33.88 grams of 18k gold. On top of that, it's adorned with 18 diamonds of VS-SI clarity, F-G color, for a total diamond weight of .65ct. The bangle was originally part of a set but we sold the ring alone some time back. The bangle alone has an appraised value, based on its gold and diamond content of around $6500. We are asking only $1399 for this knockout bracelet and it's worth every penny. But if it were the original Cartier bangle on which it is based, it would be worth many times more, especially with that gold and diamond content.


Incidentally, if you are interested in learning more about the piece in the photo above, just click on the photo. When you open the new page, amongst the other photos you'll see is the original appraisal for the full set i.e bangle and ring. The set was appraised at $8550 Canadian. As I said, we're now selling the bangle alone for only $1395 US. And this week only, from June 13 - June 20 (midnight) we are open to offers on all items, including this one, in our RUBY LANE SHOP

Back to the question posed in our heading and the criteria for investing in vintage jewelry. We've addressed most of that criteria except condition: it goes almost without saying: the better the condition of the vintage jewelry you're looking at, the better investment it is. In necklaces, brooches, earrings etc that use stones, watch for any cloudiness or darkening in the stones. Check for loose stones. Designer pieces with missing stones are far less valuable than those where all stones are intact, especially true if all stones are the originals. The thing is it's very hard to find perfect replacements for a stone missing in a designer piece and collectors can often spot a replaced stone very easily. Look for glued-in stones: if the designer never used glue that's most likely a replaced stone. As in all things, it's buyer beware.

Of course, if you're only buying vintage jewelry because you love its look and like wearing it, that's a whole different thing. Given the amount of modern reproductions on the market and available in the malls today, there's a huge interest in the vintage look and designer doesn't matter in that case. Happy vintage jewelry shopping! Swing on by OUR SHOP AT RUBY LANE this weekend and make us an offer! And there's also some very affordable vintage brooches in OUR SHOP at e-CRATER.

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