If you’ve been shopping around for some vintage or estate jewelry recently, or just getting interested in collecting vintage jewelry in general, you may have seen or heard of signed jewelry.Does vintage signed jewelry hold it’s value? Today, we’re discussing what signed jewelry is and whether it’s a good investment.
What is Signed Jewelry?
Signed jewelry features a stamp or engraving that tells you where the jewelry was made or by whom. Signed jewelry first became popular in the mid-1800s, so it’s possible that if you locate a piece of signed jewelry, it could be quite old. You can find signed jewelry from a wealth of favorite designers and jewelers, such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Bulgari and more.
Is Signed Jewelry Valuable?
Absolutely! Since vintage signed jewelry is on the rare side, it’s incredibly valuable and often goes for high dollar amounts at auction. Collectors will pay a pretty penny to get their hands on some of these signed pieces. In fact, you can expect signed jewelry to fetch up to 300% more than an unsigned piece of jewelry in similar condition.
The most valuable signatures to find on a piece include those from the top and most well-known designers that are still popular today, including Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Bulgari and David Webb. However, do note that these signatures don’t always guarantee an exceptionally high value. Other factors that will determine the end value of your vintage piece include how many of a particular piece were produced, and, in some cases, the signature may even be a fake (which is just one reason why professional appraisals are important in any jewelry purchase).
See a name on your vintage piece that isn’t one of these? Don’t immediately assume that that lessens the value; a qualified appraiser will be able to spot even rarer signatures that may fetch a lot at auction, but that aren’t well-known by the general public.
What’s the Difference Between a Jewelry Signature and a Hallmark?
A hallmark is a similar stamp or engraving that tells you the metal type and content of a particular piece. All fine jewelry sports a hallmark. Sometimes, you’ll hear the terms “hallmark” and “signature” used interchangeably, if the hallmark also includes the name of the designer or jeweler. You can typically find the hallmark stamp somewhere hidden, such as on the earring post, on a necklace or bracelet clasp, or on the inside of a ring.
What Factors Impact Vintage Jewelry’s Value?
It’s not just a signature that impacts the value of your vintage jewelry and a signature doesn’t even guarantee a piece is or isn’t fake. After all, if a piece of jewelry is old enough, it may be the case that the signature wore off over the years. It could be a quite rare piece, just missing the signature. Other factors will impact your vintage jewelry’s value, signature or no signature.
Age is one factor to take into consideration, so it’s important to know whether a piece is antique or vintage. A vintage piece of jewelry is generally considered a piece made between 20 and 100 years ago. Antique jewelry is older. Art Deco, Edwardian and Victorian jewelry are all generally considered to be in highest demand.
Condition will also impact the value. If, though, you think the condition is rather poor, whether in the case of the gemstones or precious metals used, you may be able to recoup some of your vintage piece’s value by selling the metal or gemstones on their own, versus as the single piece of jewelry. Gold is especially desired for use in new pieces, and some gemstones are more valuable in a new setting than in the old, vintage setting.
However, don’t avoid wearing a piece of antique or vintage jewelry just because you’re worried you may cause the condition to deteriorate, making your investment deteriorate as well. Vintage jewelry typically does not drop in price due to use alone.
Overall material quality is likewise a big factor to consider. Not all old jewelry is valuable. If you have a 30-year-old ring that was poor value when it was originally purchased, it’s not really going to fetch you much today, even though it is technically vintage. Vintage jewelry typically is only valuable if it was high quality to begin with.
Lastly, any prior proof of authentication, original paperwork or even packaging or the designer’s jewelry box can increase the value of your vintage jewelry. Designer jewelry collectors value this packaging, as it can be its own collectors’ item.
Tips for Investing in Vintage Jewelry
The best advice for investing in vintage jewelry applies to investing in jewelry overall.
As you pick investment pieces, you’ll want to choose items that are the highest quality you can afford. The better the value now, the better the value later — so long as you’re not purchasing a trend or fashion piece. The only time that fashion or costume jewelry fetches a comparable price to fine jewelry is when a particular piece is considered rare or indicative of its time in history.
Work with a qualified partner who can help you identify the most valuable pieces or, on the flip side, purchases that you might want to steer clear of. A highly recommended and experienced jeweler will know which pieces will hold their value longest, will help you source pieces you might not have access to otherwise, and can be an invaluable partner in building your vintage jewelry collection.
Once you’ve begun acquiring several pieces of investment jewelry, you want to be sure to protect your investment. Purchase jewelry insurance (don’t assume your homeowners’ insurance will cover issues like jewelry loss or theft). Store and care for your vintage jewelry appropriately.
Do note that the value of jewelry can fluctuate, just like the value of any investment fluctuates over time. Demand and market disruptions may influence how much you can get for a piece if you intend to sell it.
However, even if you’re buying your jewelry as an investment piece, keep in mind that you should buy jewelry that you genuinely love. A long-term investment, that jewelry will likely sit in your box, waiting for someone to wear it, for years. Invest in pieces that you’d like to wear until you finally decide it’s time to sell. After all, if you’re careful and don’t damage your jewelry, you won’t find that wearing it decreases the value in the slightest.
La Maison Yamron Can Help
La Maison Yamron is a curator and purveyor of pre-owned fine jewelry and watches. Among our pieces, you’ll find estate jewelry from iconic brands that have already been authenticated and evaluated, so you can trust you’re making a smart investment with every purchase.
See how we could help you find your next perfect vintage addition to your jewelry collection. You can find Yamron Jewelers located at 5555 Tamiami Trail North, Suite 11, in Naples, Florida. You can also give us a call at 239-592-7707 or an email at [email protected]
Is Vintage Signed Jewelry Valuable? (The Back Vault)
Why is Vintage Jewelry an investment? (La Kaiser)
Does Jewelry Depreciate? Everything You Need to Know (Estate Diamond Jewelry)
What’s It Worth? Placing a Value on Your Vintage Jewelry (My Jewelry Repair)