Vintage Pins and Brooches Buying Guide

Pins and brooches have long been used by women to accessorize work, dress, and casual outfits. Women who want to wear striking pins in classic styles often choose vintage brooches and pins. These collectible items are relatively affordable and are available in a wide array of styles. Women of all ages will be able to add a stylish touch to any outfit when wearing these striking vintage accessories.

Vintage Pin and Brooch Basics

Those individuals who are interested in buying vintage pins and brooches must decide if they would like to shop for items by era, jewelry type, or occasion. Shoppers will also need to familiarize themselves with the basics of vintage pin pricing before making purchasing decisions. A wide variety of vintage pins and brooches can be found at both online retailers and in brick-and-mortar stores.

Shopping for Vintage Pins and Brooches by Era

Many shoppers will choose to shop for vintage pins and brooches by era. This is the easiest way to find pins of a certain style. The chart below provides information about the major jewelry design movements of the 20th century.

Edwardian Running from the late 1830s to 1910, the Edwardian Era adopted and modernized earlier Victorian fashions. Pieces from this era were generally made by hand. Pearls, rhinestones, and enamel pins were popular during this time.
Art Nouveau Art Nouveau designs were incredibly popular between 1890 and 1910. These designs are characterized by long, curving lines that abruptly change direction.
Art Deco Art deco styles were popular from the early 1920s into the 1940s. These designs were inspired by Art Nouveau styles but feature cleaner, straighter lines. Geometric designs, florals, and female silhouettes are often featured in Art Deco pins and brooches.
New Look The New Look style emerged shortly after the end of World War II. New Look jewelry featured clean lines, pearls, and bold rhinestones.
Mod and Hippie Mod and hippie styles were extremely popular during the ’60s and ’70s. Mod jewelry tended towards geometric shapes and primary colors. Hippie jewelry generally features earth-tone gems, natural metals, and warm woods.
New Wave New Wave fashion emerged during the late ’70s and early ’80s. New Wave jewelry is characterized by an increased interest in plastics, neon colors, and big, bold designs.

Fine Jewelry Pins and Brooches

Those individuals who wish to buy heirloom-quality pieces should search for vintage fine jewelry brooches.. These items are made from precious metals, semi-precious and precious gemstones, and other valuable materials. Many of these pieces were produced by notable designers and manufacturing houses. When buying fine jewelry pins and brooches, it is essential to ask the seller for proof that the item is genuine. Many reproduction pins and brooches have been made in the last 20 years. Even experienced sellers can be fooled by these reproduction pieces.

Costume Jewelry Pins and Brooches

Vintage costume jewelry pins are an excellent choice for individuals who want to buy beautiful pins at bargain prices. The majority of these pins were made by mainstream fashion designers and were widely available at the time of manufacture. Wholesale lots of costume jewelry pins and brooches from the Edwardian era offer particularly good value to buyers.

Choosing the Right Vintage Pins and Brooches for Every Occasion

Shoppers will choose vintage pins and brooches according to their own personal sense of style. However, certain pins may be better suited to some occasions than others. Vintage cameo pins and brooches are ideal for afternoon parties and casual outings. Women who want to dress up a beautiful outfit for a formal occasion should choose vintage rhinestone brooches or brooches with crystals, semi-precious stones, or precious gemstones. These striking pieces will spark conversation at any event. Women with a carefree, bohemian sense of style may wish to choose vintage Bakelite pins.. These pins come in styles ranging from elegant to fashion-forward to downright fun. When buying Bakelite pins, be sure to inspect the piece for any signs of peeling layers or separation. Vintage enamel brooches can also add a funky touch to any outfit.

Understanding Vintage Pin and Brooch Pricing

As with most vintage items, the prices for vintage pins and brooches are largely determined by three factors. The most important of these factors is the condition of the item. The second is the material from which a given piece is made. Though it tends to be less important in pricing decisions, a piece’s age can also affect its selling price.


Pins and brooches have been made from many different materials. The chart below provides descriptions of some of the materials commonly found in these pieces along with information about the pricing of some materials.

Metals A wide variety of metals have been used in the production of brooches and pins. Sterling silver, brass, and gold filigree are commonly used in these pieces. Pins and brooches that are gold-plated tend to carry prices four to five times higher than those of other brooches.
Plastics Plastics such as Bakelite and Lucite were widely used in jewelry production from the 1920s forward. Pins made after 1970 tend to feature other manufactured plastics that are extremely durable and resistant to breakage and color fading.
Rhinestones The term rhinestone refers to a simulated diamond or gem made from plastic, glass, or crystal. These stones are usually faceted and offer high sparkle.
Crystals Crystals in a variety of shapes and sizes have been used in the production of pins and brooches. Swarovski crystals tend to be the most expensive crystals available on the consumer market.
Enamels Jewelry designers have long used enamel techniques to color and decorate pins. Enamel designs are created using glass, wire, and newer, synthetic materials. Enamel pins are extremely durable. Carefully inspect vintage enamel pins and brooches for any signs of chipping as such damage can be difficult to correct.
Pearls Freshwater and cultured pearls have been used in pins and brooches for centuries. These elegant gems are available in a variety of colors. However, the majority of pearls used in vintage pins and brooches are white or cream in color.
Gemstones Both semi-precious and precious gemstones are used in pins and brooches. Turquoise and jade were widely used in brooches during the early to mid-20th century. Pins with precious gemstones tend to be significantly more expensive than brooches with other types of adornment.
Glass Glass was used in place of rhinestones or gemstones on many brooches. Some antique brooches feature cut, polished glass that is extremely valuable on today’s consumer market.


In general, pins and brooches made in small shops prior to the rise of mass manufacturing are more valuable than those pieces made by machine. However, the popularity of these items during the Edwardian era means that many are available on the market today. Pins that are more than 200 years old may be priced significantly higher than other pieces.


Most vintage items are graded according to their condition. The chart below provides definitions of terms commonly used in the grading of vintage items.

Poor Items that are described as in poor condition feature extensive damage and are generally unsuitable for wear. Buyers should only purchase brooches in poor condition if they can salvage some of their components.
Good or Fair Pins and brooches in good or fair condition almost always have some visible damage or discoloration. They may have broken pin backs and may need to be repaired before they can be worn.
Used Used is a blanket term utilized to describe any pin or brooch that has been worn previously. Be sure to ask the seller questions to determine the condition of items listed as used.
Like New Pins and brooches that are described as like new have been used but show very little signs of wear. They may feature very minor damage or discoloration.
New Brooches and pins listed as being in new condition have never been worn and look much like they did when they were originally sold. While these pieces may feature some discoloration, all of their parts should be intact, and they should be ready to wear.


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