Diamond in the Rough
Buying vintage jewels is not quite as simple as rummaging through your grandmother’s jewelry box.
Buying vintage jewels is not quite as simple as rummaging through your grandmother’s jewelry box. You’ve got to look out for damage that may have come about due to a piece’s age—or for people who aren’t being honest about their merchandise. “To buy antique and to be positive you know what you’re buying takes long training, and not every jeweler even knows,” says Mikhel Shnayder, co-owner of Euro Design Jewelry in Natick. “You have to look at many pieces. That’s the only way to learn.” If you don’t have the time to become an expert, keep these tips in mind to protect your investment:
Opt for platinum. “Platinum is more dense and will last five times longer than any gold jewelry,” says Shnayder.
Soldering=Bad. Make sure that platinum pieces have not been soldered (the process of joining together metals with an alloy) with gold. It will decrease the value. Also be on the lookout for jewels that have been fixed with cement or glue to hide flaws.
Give it a shake. Make sure that the prongs (the little pieces that hold the stones in place) and shank (the bottom of the ring that goes around the finger) are not damaged. “If you really love that piece of jewelry, it can be restored,” he says. Just make sure the jeweler has the proper tools. A laser welder is needed to fix platinum.
Be careful. Don’t get fooled—there are a lot of replicas and stamped jewelry that will pass for antiques to an untrained eye.
Never pay cash. “Usually antique stores don’t have very good return policies,” says Shnayder. Charge the piece and then take it to a jeweler you trust. If you’ve been duped, you can always contest the charge.