Precious Stones Commonly Used in Vintage and Antique Jewellery

There are many different precious stones used in antique and vintage jewellery, and you may expect this type of jewellery to contain diamonds but contrary to popular belief, diamonds have not always been a girl’s best friend. In the 1940s, the DeBeers diamond company launched an aggressive marketing campaign that used 'diamonds are a girl’s best friend' in their tagline, suffice to say there was an increase in diamond jewellery sales, to the point where everyone expects an engagement or wedding ring to contain diamonds. However, it was not always that way.

There are many vintage a
nd antique jewellery pieces that contain other precious stones as well as diamonds, here is a list of commonly found precious stones in both antique and vintage jewellery. 

Diamonds – In the past 70 years, diamonds have shot to the top of the most popular stones for jewellery, but when looking at vintage and antique jewellery, you can still find fine pieces that include diamonds. Antique diamond engagement rings are very popular with the younger generations, and should you be thinking of popping the question, a Google search will lead you to a reputable jeweller who is based in the UK. Check they know the authenticity of their jewellery and the back story to ensure you get an antique or vintage piece.  This is called provenance and can add value to the item.


Sapphires – Sapphires have long been regarded as precious stones. A member of the corundum family, sapphires are made of aluminium oxide, with traces of titanium, chromium, copper and iron. Thought of as predominately blue stones, you can also get fancy sapphire stones in shades of yellow, purple, orange and green. If you are looking for some antique or vintage sapphire jewellery, search for an online antique dealer who specialises in antique and vintage jewellery. 


Emeralds – This green precious stone was widely used throughout all the eras, and much like diamonds, they are graded using the 4 Cs, colour, clarity, cut, and of course, carat, which is a measure of weight. Emeralds can be found in all types of jewellery from rings to brooches, necklaces and bracelets, and the colour is very much a defining property when it comes to value as well as the clarity. Many emeralds are oiled to fill out the tiny inclusions, and a clear good large emerald can demand thousands of pounds.


Rubies – The last of the four major precious stones, rubies, are mainly red colour, and can be found in jewellery throughout the ages. From the corundum group of minerals, rubies can be anything from pink to a deep red and are also assessed using the 4 Cs. Rubies can demand very high prices for coloured gemstones. Good rubies are bright in colour and have minimal inclusions. If you are looking for a specific jewellery item that contains rubies, your best bet is to make contact with a reputable antique dealer, who would have an extensive catalogue of ruby jewellery from every era.


If you are a fan of antique jewellery, why not enjoy it by wearing it? The best thing about buying antique jewellery is you can wearing your beautiful item, and providing you take good care of your antique jewellery, you should be able to sell it for a profit, should you wish to capitalise on the value. Ensure when you take it off you wrap it in a soft cloth and store in a dark place, away from other jewellery that may scratch it. Avoid spraying perfume or applying body lotion when wearing your antique or vintage jewellery.  Many women have at least a couple of antique jewellery items in the collection, and by looking for the above precious stones, you can add a touch of colour and elegance to any vintage look. 

If you are looking to invest in a precious item of antique or vintage jewellery, it pays to do some online research which will help you to better understand values, and by dealing with a reputable antique dealer, you can rest assured that the items are, in fact, genuine.

*This article is published in a partnership of Mediabuzzer.

4 comments

  1. I love Sapphires - especially in rings! They are beautiful <3

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  2. This was really interesting to read. I like antique jewellery but I'll be honest in saying I don't know much about it. Sapphires are my favourite precious stones 💙

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  3. Emeralds are my favourite - and my birthstone but I read that they are a softer stone so if you wear them in a ring you have to look after it carefully. Not an everyday piece of jewellery I think.

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  4. My birth stone is ruby and my Nan left me her ruby engagement ring in her will, it is just stunning too x

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