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Looking For Jewelry At Auction? Here’s What You Should Know First

Friday, August 24th, 2018
finding jewelry at auctions in texas

Jewelry is something precious that is often passed down from generation to generation. That is until it no longer has a place in the family and is placed on auction. Financial difficulty is another of many reasons for jewelry to become part of an auction.

Classic pieces of jewelry have distinctive designs or styles that come and go like any other fashion. However, the worth of each piece is determined by craftsmanship, quality, and the market’s current demands.

Auctions, both online and in-person, bring unique jewelry pieces up for bid, some of which are sought by many around the world. When you begin attending auctions in search of jewelry, you should research the pieces coming up for bid. Consider what materials they are made from, how old each piece is, and their condition.


For a piece of jewelry to be considered vintage, it has to be more than twenty years old, but less than one-hundred years. These pieces reflect the style of a recent, more modern era. Art Deco is an excellent example of vintage jewelry with its bright colors, sharp angles, and geometric lines. These pieces feature Japanese, African, and Egyptian motifs and have a lot of pearls and diamonds.


For jewelry to be considered antique, the government states it must be more than one-hundred years old. Antique jewelry is often made by hand, which makes it more valuable than vintage. The materials and designs vary depending on when a piece was created and worn. There are several favorite eras to look for when searching for antique jewelry.

During the years 1714 to 1837, jewelry was designed as short necklaces, brooches, and pendants and often displayed pictures of loved ones. Scroll and floral motifs were typical during this time as well as garnets, coral, topaz, and diamonds set in silver. This era is known as Georgian.

From 1837 to 1900, which is known as the Victorian era, jewelry included mostly semiprecious stones so that costs could be kept lower. The time frame the piece was created in determines what material was used and its design. Jewelry from this time will range from Early Victorian (1837-1850), to Mid-Victorian (1860-1880), to Late Victorian (1885-1900).

During the years 1900-1910, diamonds and pearls were set in platinum in pieces such as pendants and chokers. These are considered Edwardian/Belle Epoch pieces. Strings of pearls were very popular during this time frame as well. You will see more elaborate and decorative designs which feature rubies and emeralds with Edwardian/Belle Epoch jewelry.

The Art Nouveau era ran from the 1890s through 1910 and mimicked a graceful time, with insect, bird, and plant designs. These pieces included semi-precious stones and gems using enamel for settings.

Native American Jewelry should not be confused with Indian style pieces. This era goes back to the 1850s, and the pieces are valued on their authenticity and rarity. Some of the tribes whose pieces are more sought after than others include the Hopi, Navajo, Wampum, and Haida.

Estate jewelry

The differences in jewelry eras are often interchanged, but it is essential for you to know them so you can determine the value of the pieces. Estate jewelry is any piece that has been previously owned, no matter its age. You will see a lot of both vintage and antique pieces for sale at estate sales or estate auctions.


Contemporary jewelry became popular during the 1980s, when pieces were created in sleek gold lines. Customers wanted their jewelry to have original gemstones in new and unique settings. This drove the industry to seek out new techniques and create new technology for production. Contemporary jewelry saw the birth of more wearable pieces like toe rings and piercings.

Costume jewelry

Costume jewelry is created by using non-precious materials and is often called fake. Some creations have been made with excellent craftsmanship and quality materials, making them valued much like fine jewelry. Some of the famous brands of costume pieces include Eisenberg, Coro, Weiss, and Haskell.

High Plains Auctioneers are your auction experts. You can call us at (806) 244-6776 to learn more the different types of auctions we host, as well as how to Buy and Sell at auction. You can also Contact Us through email for more information and check out our Upcoming Auctions.