What’s so great about something vintage inspired?  Wouldn’t the real thing be better? Well, yes and no. It depends on what “better” means to you! There’s no denying the romance of a true vintage piece, but when you’re investing in fine jewelry, there are a few other factors to keep in mind. In this article, I’ll lay out a few reasons why you might choose a vintage inspired piece, so that you can make an informed decision.

Let’s start by defining our terms:

Vintage jewelry: Vintage refers to something created 20 or more years ago which - *clutches braided hemp choker* - today would include anything Y2K or older.  

Antique jewelry: For something to be considered an antique it would have had to be made 100 years ago or more.

Vintage inspired jewelry: Vintage inspired jewelry is newly made jewelry that incorporates style elements from older periods.  

antique navette ring
This is an original antique ring. It was crafted over 100 years ago near the turn of the 20th century.
This is an original vintage ring, originally crafted circa the 1920s to 1930s.
Tsavorite and diamond ballerina ring
This is a more recent vintage ring. It was made within the last 50 years.
This is a vintage inspired ring set with an original vintage diamond. It is part of our original collection and was crafted in the last couple years. 


A few downsides to consider when purchasing original vintage jewelry:

There can be a lot of benefits to something that hasn’t been around for a hundred years - especially for a piece of jewelry you might wear everyday like an engagement ring.  

  1. Original vintage jewelry often has experienced wear and tear. Many original vintage pieces have been worn and loved for many years. This wear can give a piece character, but if you are looking for a pristine piece, vintage jewelry may not be the right choice for you. 
  1. Some vintage jewelry may need restoration work. If you are purchasing from a reputable jeweler, it is likely that they will complete or disclose any needed restoration work; however if you are purchasing a ring from an individual or an online marketplace, there’s no guarantee that the piece has been inspected. For example, in our shop each piece of original vintage jewelry we acquire goes through a thorough set of quality checks before becoming available to our customers for purchase. Through these quality checks, we often see damage to a ring caused by a lifetime of wear such as missing stones, broken or about-to-break filigree, missing prongs and worn-away engraved details that all need to be addressed in a restoration process before becoming wearable again. A pawn shop or an individual selling an heirloom ring may not have the knowledge or resources to fully inspect jewelry for needed repairs. If you do purchase a jewelry piece from an estate or online marketplace, you will likely want to have it cleaned and inspected by a reputable jeweler before subjecting it to daily wear. 
  2. Many original vintage pieces have been repaired in the past with varying degrees of skill. Although we spend plenty of time restoring damaged jewelry, even more of the projects in our shop involve fixing repair work that had been made to a piece of jewelry in the decades before it made its way to us.  We have seen all sorts of “creative solutions” that need to be undone!  There might be a modern-cut diamond replacing a missing single-cut diamond side stone on an Art Deco ring.  The original vintage rings we come across were often made for small finger sizes and have been resized to suit a larger finger size in a less-than-ideal way - pulling the original ring like taffy for a dangerously thin shank on the verge of breaking, or using a different type of metal to bridge a gap.  Most often we are encountering this mixed-metal mess, making the entire piece of jewelry in desperate need of a good revitalization.  While it might be less expensive for a jeweler to use gold solder in repair work of a platinum ring, it does not maintain the integrity or uphold the standards of craftsmanship to the era in which it was originally created. Is a low-quality fix “better” so that a piece of jewelry is still technically from an original vintage time-period?  Maybe not.
  3. Restoring an original vintage piece can be very costly. The restoration process requires detailed attention by skilled jewelers, stone setters, engravers and polishers using the appropriate tools and materials. It is a labor-intensive project to undertake and can be quite costly to restore a piece of vintage jewelry to its rightful glory.
  1. If you’re looking for a particular style or require particular specifications, it may be hard to find what you’re looking for. The fact that vintage jewelry is rare does make it extra exciting when you do find that perfect piece. But, you may be looking for a very very long time, and you may never find the one that’s just right for you. If you have your heart set on a particular style or a particular type of stone, you may be better off commissioning a reproduction. 


Pros of vintage inspired jewelry

Here is where vintage inspired jewelry becomes the best creative solution to these issues for a lover of antique and vintage jewelry styles!!

  1. With a newly made piece you can be sure it's in perfect condition and ready to wear. With a new piece of jewelry you don’t need to worry about shoddy repairs or weakened prongs. In our shop, every one of our vintage inspired designs is made to order - meaning we craft each piece just for you!  Whether you need a size 4 or a size 12 ring, fresh production of a design ensures the structural integrity of the ring will not at all be compromised by the finger size needed for you to be able to wear it - something which can not always be ensured on an original vintage ring that may have endured a few lifetimes already and potential resizes by multiple jewelers.
  2. Newer technologies allow for highly detailed pieces at an accessible price point. Highly detailed vintage pieces are truly a sight to behold, but they are also extremely rare. This is in part because they were made entirely by hand and were extremely expensive. Today, we can create some of these fine details using modern technology, such as CAD. When skillfully utilized, these modern technologies can make highly detailed jewelry accessible without compromising on the aesthetics. Here at Ivy & Rose, we take our knowledge of the vintage jewelry styles of the past and pair it with emerging technological practices in the contemporary jewelry production industry of today.  We strive to be the bridge connecting the best of both worlds! Inspiration comes to us not only through the aesthetics of these classic jewelry styles, but also the integrity of craftsmanship put into every jewelry piece created by the goldsmiths and jewelers working generations ago, carrying on this tradition with care.
  3. You can get the exact design you want! With original vintage jewelry, you are limited by what is currently available on the market. It is next to impossible to find the perfect center stone, the most amazing original vintage mounting AND have them both work together - but vintage inspired pieces allow for a lot more variety of designs, and you can even tweak a design to fit your exact specifications. In fact, all of the vintage inspired jewelry in our collection is completely customizable! Our entire line of jewelry designs can be modified to perfectly unite the center stone with the mounting of your dreams! We can recreate all of our designs in a different metal type or color, we can take elements of one ring and incorporate it into another ring, we can design wedding bands to perfectly match an engagement ring because they are literally made for each other!  With the ease in being able to modify any of our vintage inspired designs to showcase a gorgeous center stone or incorporate meaningful elements into a fresh new jewelry design, we are able to tailor to your tastes and create this future heirloom for you.


Our vintage inspired jewelry collection:

Now that you know a few reasons why you might choose a vintage inspired piece over an original vintage piece, here are a few reasons to check out our own line of vintage inspired jewelry. Our vintage jewelry line is rooted in a deep love and knowledge of vintage and antique jewelry. Before we created our own vintage pieces, we spent years curating a large collection of original vintage jewelry. Some brands may offer vintage styles as a bit of an afterthought. For us, it is the centerpiece of our collection. We were so inspired by the original antique and vintage jewelry of the past that we have created new designs which are deeply rooted in these traditions, yet easily wearable today. At Ivy & Rose, our vintage inspired jewelry is crafted completely in-house. From the design, top-to-bottom production and correspondence with our sales team - all of our work happens under one roof in the here and now: our shop on Chicago’s Historic Jewelers Row in the 21st century.  Each ring from our vintage inspired jewelry collections are made-to-order and undergo even more rigorous standards to ensure the high quality of a brand new product, honoring the integrity and craftsmanship in the generations of jewelers who have come before us. 

June 13, 2022 — Mona Porter

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