Glossary of terms for estate jewelry

Why do jewelry dealers hate the word “estate?” What’s the difference between revival and reproduction? A quick guide to help you navigate the murky semantics of used jewelry.

Antique jewelry: at least 100 years old. That’s the definition of “antique” recognized by the U.S. Customs Service for the import of all duty-free goods. So, late-Victorian, Art Nouveau and Edwardian jewelry are officially antiques but not Deco or even WWI-era.

Estate jewelry: second-hand or previously-owned. Jewelry dealers hate this word because it’s so vague, but that’s precisely the quality that brought it into popular usage.

Period jewelry: dealer-speak for “less than 100 years old,” yet categorizable by style and quality of craftsmanship.

Collectible jewelry: has proven market value but is not necessarily old or intrinsically valuable. Anything sought after by a sizable group is collectible.

Reproduction jewelry: copies of older styles, easily mistaken for the originals.

Revival jewelry: jewelry with design elements of a previous era, creatively refashioned to suit its own – and easily identifiable as such. Some evival jewelry made in the late 19th century – including Renaissance, Egyptian and Archeological revivals – are sometimes worth almost as much as the originals.

Vintage jewelry: nebulous term that’s becoming almost as popular as “estate” jewelry, especially among the under-40 crowd, probably because it’s equally vague but sounds cooler. Originally used to describe recent “vintages” like jewelry made in the seventies or eighties, particularly costume, but fast becoming another blanket term for “oldish.”

OK, jewelry connoisseurs, here’s your chance to weigh in by leaving a comment. Did I get this right or am I missing something?