Guide to Buying Vintage Diamonds

The idea of owning vintage diamonds is very attractive to many jewelry collectors and lovers of unique wearable art. There is just something special about owning a stone that has held a personal importance to someone else. While vintage diamonds maintain their charm and good looks over decades and centuries – after all, you cannot melt down these stones like you could the gold settings they came in – there are still a few misconceptions to clear up to prevent buyer’s remorse in the future.
Vintage does not equal antique. An antique diamond should be at least 100 years old. Although some retailers set the bar lower at the 50-year mark, most agree that 100 years is a good starting point. Strict adherence to the terminology limits the time period for vintage diamonds to fall between 1960 and 1979, which may coincide with the estate jewelry designation. If you go a bit further back in time, you are possibly looking at a retro diamond. At the onset of your browsing or retail transaction, make sure that you understand the seller’s use of the terminology. It is not unheard of for a seller to group all resale diamonds into the vintage category, even if they have been cut just a year or two ago. In other cases, the stone may be relatively new but the setting may qualify for the vintage designation.
Ask for the GIA certificate. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) issues certificates for diamonds and plenty of vintage pieces come with one. That said, some do not feature this desirable attribute and you have to rely on the seller’s gemologist to grade the diamond you are interest in. In this case, it is always wise to ask for a written guarantee. The jewelry seller must be clear about the stone’s size and carat weight. The professional should also put in writing the color and clarity of the vintage diamond.
No damage. A vintage diamond should show no signs of wear. Since the material is extremely hard, there can be no scratches, nicks and other problems. While the setting may have taken a bit of abuse, the stone itself must be free from damage.
Attractive settings and cuts. Early vintage pieces may feature smaller diamonds in textured yellow gold settings. Round brilliants were a common choice among jewelry makers.
Of course, when you look at the Victorian rose cutreproductions that may be manufactured in any era, you might wonder why you should bother going for a genuinely vintage ring in the first place. The answer is simple. You want to stand out from the crowd and most vintage diamonds come in their original settings. Unless you buy loose diamonds, your vintage jewelry piece easily becomes a conversation starter.
Peter Suchy Jewelers located at 1137 High Ridge Road in Stamford Connecticut are experts in buying vintage diamonds—we also carry a variety of estate and vintage diamonds in our showroom and our eBay store.
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