As promised, I am continuing my series of articles on how to go about putting together a collection of vintage jewelry that you will be proud to wear and, hopefully, pass on to your heirs.
The second thing to consider before you purchase a piece of vintage jewelry is the condition of the piece. In retail marketing, the keywords are "location, location, location." For collecting vintage jewelry, I have similar keywords - "Condition, condition, condition."
That isn't to say that you can't pick up a piece in not so great condition if you really like the piece of vintage jewelry, which is the main factor to consider, but generally condition is high on the list of must haves. (it might even be number one if you are buying solely for investment purposes, with do you like it as number two then.)
Check the jewelry piece carefully. Are there any missing, cloudy or dead stones? Is there excess glue around the stones, or has it yellowed with age? It is possible to replace stones in vintage jewelry, but this will affect the value of the piece and should be professionally done - not always synonymous with having it done by a professional, but usually they are one and the same.
Check the piece for verdigris. This insidious green gunk will form in many places, especially those which are worn close to the body - clasps on necklaces, and earring backs are the main cuplrits, but you can also see it on any metal parts of a piece of jewelry. If you see green gunk, you are seeing damage. Verdigris can be cleaned but the piece is not as valuable if it has it or has had it in the past.
Check all clasps and other working parts to make sure that they function well. No matter how pretty the stones in that vintage brooch are, it's not a good investment if the clasp is broken. If the set of cuff links have "to die for" construction and design, but one of the pair has a wonky link - it shouldn't be intended for the investment pile.
Be sure to examine the condition of the metal. Don't purchase those pieces with serious metal wear - whether it be flaking metal paint, cracks or broken joins, or a greenish tinge to the metal. If the piece only has slight metal wear on the back side, it can be a piece to buy, as long as it is interesting in many other ways.
So, step two is really pretty simple...just inspect the piece carefully for damage. Be sure to check back soon for the next chapter.