Vintage Wedding Jewelry Buying Guide

Every bride dreams of looking stunning on her wedding day. Many women spend weeks on end searching for the perfect dress, hair piece, and shoes. Of course, wedding jewelry is also an essential accessory. Almost every bride will wear a necklace, earrings, and bracelet on her big day. Some women wear heirloom pieces handed down through their families while others choose to buy new jewelry sets. Women who want to purchase special jewelry for their weddings while retaining a classic touch of elegance are well served by vintage wedding jewelry pieces, which are available in a wide variety of styles.

Vintage Wedding Jewelry Basics

Thanks to the popularity of vintage jewelry, a wide variety of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets designed for wedding wear are available on today’s market. The majority of shoppers will benefit from searching for these items either by their style or the materials from which they were made. Vintage wedding jewelry is available at all price points. Both big spenders and bargain shoppers will be able to find striking pieces that meet their needs.

Jewelry Styles

Most brides choose wedding jewelry in a specific style that is designed to complement their dresses and highlight their natural beauty. Because wedding jewelry designs tend to be similar across the decades, buyers may need to inspect pieces carefully in order to determine the time period during which they were made. The chart below describes the basic stylistic elements of jewelry made during different time periods.


Most Georgian jewelry was made before 1837. Classic gemstone settings and simple but feminine lines ruled during this age. Pieces produced during the Georgian period were made by hand using rudimentary tools and molds. White and red sapphires are frequently used in wedding jewelry from the Georgian era. Shoppers who are interested in buying vintage engagement rings and wedding bands from this time period should keep in mind that many of these pieces feature colored gemstones instead of diamonds. Due to their age, these pieces tend to be quite expensive.

Edwardian and Victorian

Jewelry from the Edwardian and Victorian periods was made between 1840 and 1910. Many of these pieces feature floral designs and feminine curves borrowed from Georgian fashions. Sapphire and garnet remained popular during this period and were often used in bridal jewelry.

Art Nouveau

The art nouveau period ran from 1890 to 1910. Pieces made during this time tend to feature bold lines and soft, ethereal coloring. Many art nouveau jewelry pieces feature motifs from nature. While animal designs were extremely popular during this time, they are not often found in wedding jewelry.

Art Deco

The art deco movement grew out of the art nouveau movement. Art deco designers focused on creating nature-inspired designs using geometric shapes and neat lines. Long, elegant curves were also in vogue during the art deco period. Art deco bridal jewelry tends to feature large, glitzy chains and chandelier-style pendants.

New Fashion

The fashion movement referred to as New Fashion began at the end of World War II and ran into the late 1960s. Pearls were all the rage during this period and are prevalent in New Fashion bridal jewelry. Many stunning costume jewelry pieces for brides were also made during this time period.

New Retro

Sellers often list jewelry items made between 1930 and 1990 as new retro items. These items are available in a wide variety of styles. Many of these items feature metal alloys and manufactured plastics in place of precious metals. Wedding jewelry styles have changed very little between the 1940s and the present day.

Jewelry Materials

Some brides prefer to shop for wedding jewelry according to the materials from which pieces are made. This tactic is especially useful for brides whose dresses feature metallic or decorative elements that might clash with some jewelry pieces. The chart below provides information about the materials most commonly used in the production of bridal jewelry.


Both solid gold and gold-plated vintage jewelry items are widely available. Most wedding jewelry will be made from 14k, 18k, or 24k gold. These pieces make excellent heirloom items.

Fine Silver

Fine silver is often used for bridal and wedding jewelry. Be aware that vintage fine silver pieces must be cleaned regularly to prevent the build up of tarnish.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver, a high-quality silver alloy, is often used in dressy costume jewelry. Vintage sterling silver pieces tend to be quite affordable and are durable enough to be used as heirloom items.

Metal Alloys

A wide variety of metal alloys can be found in vintage wedding jewelry pieces. Most pieces made from metal alloys are sold as costume jewelry. Be aware that these pieces may require special cleaning before they can be worn.


A wide variety of semi-precious and precious gemstones are used in vintage wedding jewelry. Red garnet and blue and red sapphire are widely used in wedding jewelry.


Crystals are used in place of gemstones in some vintage jewelry. Look for genuine Swarovski crystals, which are of significantly higher quality than most other crystals.


Some vintage costume jewelry features rhinestones in place of gemstones. Clean and polish these stones before wear for the best results.


Pearls are a perennial wedding jewelry favorite. Both single and multi-strand necklaces and bracelets have been popular since the early 19th century.

Both vintage and antique fine jewelry and vintage and antique costume jewelry are available on today’s consumer market. Buyers who wish to buy vintage fine jewelry wedding pieces should be prepared to pay prices four to five times higher than those assigned to costume pieces that are similar in appearance. Individuals with sensitive skin should exercise caution when buying vintage costume jewelry as many of these pieces contain nickel and other potential skin irritants.

Buying Vintage Wedding Jewelry by Style

In addition to making determinations about items according to era and materials, shoppers will need to decide the types of items for which they wish to shop. Remember that sellers tend to categorize jewelry first by era, second by materials, and finally by item type. Pricing for vintage pieces will be comparable to prices for similar new pieces. The materials from which a piece is made are more important in determining value than any other factor.

Vintage Wedding Necklaces

Vintage wedding necklaces can be used to accentuate a dress’s neckline or highlight a bride’s decolletage. The majority of vintage wedding necklaces feature either gemstone and rhinestone designs or pearls. Some pieces feature relatively simple chains with cluster pendants containing both pearls and gemstones. Brides who wish to add a splash of color to their wedding day attire can easily do so by choosing necklaces with brightly-colored gemstones.

Vintage Wedding Earrings

Elegant teardrops and clustered studs are the standard for vintage wedding earrings.. The majority of these earrings utilize both pearls and gemstones. However, some simpler earrings made from solid metals are available. Brides who are wearing their hair in an up-do on the big day should be sure that their earrings do not clash with any jewelry that will be worn in the hair.

Vintage Wedding Bracelets

Many brides choose to wear vintage wedding bracelets set with blue sapphires. Some jewelry experts believe that these bracelets were made to meet the requirement that brides wear something blue on their wedding day. Those individuals who do not wish to splurge on genuine sapphires will be able to find affordable costume jewelry bracelets with blue rhinestones.

Vintage Wedding Jewelry Sets

Brides who want to wear multiple jewelry items are best served by choosing vintage wedding jewelry sets.. Most of these sets include a necklace, bracelet, and earrings. These coordinated sets make a perfect gift for the bride-to-be from her friends, parents, or fiance.


Wedding jewelry adds a finishing touch to any bride’s attire. Women who love elegant, classic styles will find a wealth of beautiful, vintage wedding jewelry for sale. Those brides who want to add a unique or funky twist to their outfits can do so by choosing antique pieces with big personality. In addition to serving a bride on her wedding day, such pieces make ideal heirloom items.


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