Spotting Art Deco vintage jewellery from markets & charity shops

The Rag Market in Birmingham used to be a treasure trove of authentic vintage clothes and jewellery. It’s more chav than chic now but I have a couple of treasured possessions acquired from the days of old (pre-1990) which my Mum has given to me over the years… OK, I borrowed them and didn’t ever give them back!

You are more likely to see these types of pieces at vintage fayres rather than charity shops but keep your eyes peeled for them anyway as you never know what you might find.

What Art Deco jewellery looks like

Art Deco style jewellery is probable one of the easiest artistic styles to recognise, with modern ultra clean lines, and its trapezoidal shapes, stepped edges, and arced corners. Jewellery will quite often have an ‘architectural’ appearance, with gemstones being cut in bold geometric shapes. The below are a perfect example of a pair of reproduction style art deco earrings I bought in a Cancer Research charity shop. I wear these all the time.

The below are genuine antique art-deco earrings which my father bought my mother in the mid-1980’s for £6. They are made from sterling silver with intricate diamonte detail. A couple of the diamonte stones are now missing but this doesn’t detract from what are stunning earrings which I love wearing. These are softer on the eye than usual art deco styles. Unfortunately the stones are not real and neither is the jade – they would be worth a fortune if they were. They do look like real stones though!

Things to look out for when buying vintage jewellery

The below applies to items which cost more than about £15… anything less than this is more about whether you like it rather than what it could be worth.

Check for Hallmarks
Hallmarks will identify the date & maker of any silver or gold piece of jewellery made in England. It will also help you work out if what you are buying is real and of any value. Click on either silver hallmarks or gold hallmarks to identify those on your jewellery.

If there aren’t any hallmarks it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not worth anything but make sure you don’t pay over the odds. Go with your gut instinct.

Put the item in the palm of your hand and see how heavy it is. The general rule is that the heavier it is, the more likely it is to be genuine.

Check for damage
Check to see if there is any damage. Are there missing stones, scuffs or poor repairs?

Ask the person selling the item what they know about it. They may know a bit about it or if they are attempting to fib or rip you off, you’ll be able to tell from their body language!

A couple of gorgeous places to buy vintage jewellery online: