I was 14 when my beloved Nana passed away.
It was totally unexpected and it was the first time I’d lost someone I was really close to. Four years later, my mum (tentatively) gave me the diamond engagement ring she’d left to me, her eldest female granddaughter.
It was a one-of-a-kind, designed just for her by my Grandad, and had a yellow gold band and a white-gold bridge, with a square-cut diamond set in the middle and three tiny diamond chips set on either side.
They led a modest post-war life in New Zealand, so this was a complete extravagance for them, something Granddad would never have been able to afford if his jeweller friend hadn’t offered him generous ‘mate’s rates’ to bring the design to life.
I loved how so much care and thought has gone into it, and the fact my Nana wore it every day for 50 years. It wasn’t just a piece of jewellery, it was a connection between her and me, and the sentimental value made it truly priceless.
I’d always adored antique jewellery (although, technically, my Nana’s ring is vintage – over 20 years old – while antique is classed as 100 years or older). I used to spend hours poring over my grandparents’ costume collections – draping myself in strings of faux pearls and clipping dangly filigree earrings to my lobes, finished off with a dusting of Nana’s face powder.
There’s something so glamorous about older styles, like the stunning examples sold by Carus Jewellery; they’re ornate and full of character, and I’ve always found them far more appealing than modern pieces (which is curious, since my taste in all other areas is super contemporary).
I love that every piece has a history and a story behind it, sometimes having been passed down through centuries and a multitude of people.
But there are many other reasons why you should choose antique jewellery.
• Firstly, you know you’re getting a piece that’s totally unique to you. Period jewellery its own personality, and you’re not going to see the same thing on every other person.
• They never go out of fashion. Antique pieces reflect the historical period they were created in (Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco) and are a sparkly piece of history. They’re timeless, so never look dated.
• Older pieces are usually handmade, so there’s a level of care and craftsmanship you just won’t find on newer and mass-produced pieces. A older gem that’s been cut by hand will often have a softer finish and will reflect the light differently. Also, they’ve already survived decades, so you know they’ve been lovingly made to last.
• Antique jewellery is a great investment. Not only is it cheaper to buy, as there are no manufacturing costs to cover, because as it’s already ‘used’ it’s done all its devaluing – which means it should hold at the price you bought it for, and hopefully even increase in value.
• Historical pieces are better for the environment. If you’re buying antique pieces, you’re repurposing precious stones and metals that have already been retrieved, which reduces the need to mine for new ones. The mining process is incredibly invasive; not only is the earth ripped open, leaving unsightly scars on the landscape, the chemicals used can damage the ecosystem and kill wildlife.
• Reusing stones also reduces the trade of conflict diamonds (also known as blood diamonds) which is when rebel soldiers in war zones use forced labour to mine for gems, which they then sell to fund their military activities. Less demand means less opportunity for exploitation.
Now you know why you should choose antique jewellery; the next time you’re looking to make a sparkly new purchase, consider whether classic is a better choice for you, your pocket and the environment.
• photo credit Tyler Nix, Unsplash