Keeping Up in the Ever-Changing World of Antiques
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Keeping Up in the Ever-Changing World of Antiques

Keeping Up in the Ever-Changing World of AntiquesKeeping Up in the Ever-Changing World of Antiques

The world of antiques is always on the move, always modernizing. And if that sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, it's a marketing necessity for dealers if they want to reach a new generation of collectors. Popular television shows like Antique Roadshow and American Pickers have helped drive and develop a younger breed of antique enthusiasts eager to learn the ins-and-outs of the industry and to discover hidden gems at flea markets, old barns, or garage sales. However, unlike their older, more established counterparts, this younger generation is also more mobile. Their living spaces are often smaller and more utilitarian, and their focus is on smaller and more functional antique pieces. It's one reason why antique jewelry continues to draw strong interest. We hope that you enjoy this Keeping Up in the Ever-Changing World of Antiques post. 

The Lure of Antique Engagement Rings

Every bride-to-be wants to feel special, so it's no wonder so many young couples choose an antique or vintage engagement ring. Unlike modern-day, mass-produced engagement rings, true antique diamond rings were individually hand-cut, making each ring one-of-a-kind. Antique rings also have their own unique history, a romantic notion in and of itself. 

Old mine and old European diamonds are two of the most popular antique cuts, with old mine being the earlier of the two styles. Literally named for the old mines in India and Brazil from which they were sourced, old mine diamonds are known for their rough, asymmetric quality and warmer, sparkling color. In comparison to the squarish-shape of old mine diamonds, old European cuts are more rounded in appearance, a result of early diamond-cutting technology. The ring shanks for both types of cuts – if you have the rare luxury of finding them in their original settings – are often beautifully-etched in filigree with scrolls and flowers. Both styles are also very hard to come by, that rarity making them all the more valuable. 

Antique and Vintage Fashion Trends in Jewelry

Antique jewelry will always be popular simply because of its inherent versatility. The worlds of fashion and entertainment are constantly changing and adapting old styles into new ones. As a result, there is an ever-growing demand for complementary accessories from different time periods. That's good news for the antique jewelry market. 

For example, Victorian-era jewelry has enjoyed an unexpected boost from the steampunk crowd. A community of costume-play enthusiasts, steampunk incorporates both Victorian and futuristic stylings that inspire a distinctly unique look. Dealers with a steampunk following have seen a resurgence of interest in rings and brooches with Victorian-era secret compartments. These gems, often bedazzled with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, speak to the allure of secret romance. Cameos, choker necklaces, pearls, and lace, as well as mid-Victorian era pieces in jet, onyx, and black enamel, have also become appealing Steampunk wardrobe accessories. 

As much as the world of antiques changes, it also stays the same. That's why savvy antique dealers and collectors keep aware of historical markers. Surprising as it may be, 2020 marks 100 years since the decade of the flapper girl and the Roaring '20s, and jewelry from that era now officially falls into the antique category. Beaded headbands and hair clips, long, layered strings of pearls, swingy pendants, and art-deco style drop earrings in colorful gemstones have a market in 1920's-inspired fashions. 

Jewelry and the Migration to the Internet

The days of the formal, brick and mortar store have been steadily declining, and Covid-19 has only hastened that retreat. Jewelry, with its less demanding space requirements, is a natural fit for online sales and the up-close photography required for decidedly less-expensive online appraisals. 

Covid-19 has also dried up in-person shows, and dealers need to be ready to pivot. For example, the Brimfield, Massachusetts, antiques show, the largest show in the country, moved to a virtual platform this year for the first time in its history. While online events don't generate the same live-action enthusiasm, they do help bolster struggling sales. They also have the unique ability to allow multiple potential buyers the luxury of looking over a single piece at the same time. That's not something that can happen in a physically crowded venue. 

One other growing trend from the move away from prestigious, high-rent antique shops is the greater proliferation of do-it-yourself and repurposing projects that pair antique furniture with modern styles. Unbeholden to preserving pieces in their original form, young antiquers give new life and functionality to old pieces by matching them with modern furniture, recovering frayed and torn fabrics with newer, funkier fabrics, or discovering completely new uses for traditional items. 

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