Collectible Jewelry – Guide To Building Your Collection

vintage aqua glass and clear rhinestone pin brooch

Vintage costume jewelry is fun, wearable, uniquely stylish, and can grow in value. These tips can help you become an expert collector.

1. Identify what kind of collectible jewelry you like

This may be the hardest challenge of all due to the wide variety of vintage costume jewelry that is available. Collectors may specialize in a particular time period, material, manufacturer, or a specific type of jewelry like rings or necklaces. Pick your poison.

2. Learn more about your collectible jewelry specialty

Informed collectors have the edge in putting together a great collection. Take the time to learn about manufacturers, designs and prices. You can spot nice pieces and swoop first.

There are many vintage costume jewelry books that cover every specialty. The blogosphere can also offer lots of wonderful information.  Here at Penn Polly Vintage we will also keep writing about our collectible jewelry passion.

3. Condition, condition, condition

Vintage costume jewelry is glorious but was never created with decades of wear in mind. Vintage costume jewelry pieces are likely to have some wear on areas that had contact with clothing or skin. That perfect condition Weiss brooch may actually be a counterfeit. That said, avoid jewelry with green corrosion – the finish is a goner beneath the green gunk.

Another thing to watch out for is repairs as they can affect value. Nothing good can come from someone messily gluing in a replacement rhinestone.

If you are looking at a piece of vintage costume jewelry in person, bring a jeweler’s loupe. Inexpensive loupes can be found on Ebay and will allow you to look at potential purchases under much higher magnification than a normal magnifying glass. Some loupes even come with lights. If you spot a flaw or something unusual, ask the seller.

When buying online, walk away if there aren’t muliple, clear, close up, and well lit photos that show the front and back of collectible jewelry pieces.  If you absolutely have to have a piece where you can’t see it all,  ask the seller for more detailed photos or specific descriptions of wear.

pink vintage aurora borealis necklace

4. Clean with caution

Dust and dirt can scratch collectible jewelry so it is important to keep it clean. But be careful, you can inadvertently do damage. I handle items gently and use compressed air to dust them.

Some collectors will gently clean vintage costume  jewelry using Windex on a clean soft cloth, toothbrush, or qtip that has had almost all of the moisture squeezed out. I use this method only if absolutely needed and always allow the cleaned item to air dry for several hours before I put it away. And I don’t use this liquid method on rhinestones.

5. Store your collectible jewelry properly

You don’t want your pieces pushing against each other or caught up in a tangle. That can cause scratches or other damage.

The best bet is to separate pieces. Wrap individual  items in acid free tissue paper or fabric pouches, then put them away. You may not be aware that storing vintage costume jewelry in wooden boxes is not the best solution. The boxes can offgas causing jewelry damage over time.

So there you go – five easy tips to help you grow your own vintage costume jewelry collection.

Good luck!

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