You probably hear the words vintage and antique being thrown around quite a bit, whether you’re browsing the shelves at an antique store or shopping for vintage jewelry online. The question is, how do you define the words vintage and antique?
Defining the word “antique” isn’t as cut and dry as you might think. The general rule of thumb is, an item that’s 100 years old or older can be labeled an antique. While that’s the generally accepted definition, it’s not a hard and fast rule. Some people will label items that are a bit younger as an antique, sometimes as new as 40 or 50 years old.
HOW LIPPA's DEFINES "ANTIQUE"
We use the term “antique” in reference to jewelry that is 100 years old or older. There’s a bit of a gray area, as we’re often not able to tell the exact year that an item was made. If we feel there’s a chance the item might be less than 100 years old, we’ll use the term “vintage” instead.
So then, what’s the definition of “vintage”? Vintage is even harder to define. Unlike the word antique, there isn’t a generally accepted age that makes an item vintage. The term vintage tends to be used to describe something unique that isn’t modern, although more recently the term has been used pretty liberally. You’ve likely stumbled upon instances where the word vintage is used to describe an item that looks old but is in fact actually a new item that’s just been made to look old.
HOW LIPPA'S DEFINES "VINTAGE"
The term “vintage” applies to jewelry that is 25 years old or older. Again, there’s a bit of gray area when it comes to dating a piece of jewelry. If we’re not certain the item is at least 25 years old, we’ll label the item as a modern piece.
SHOPPING FOR ANTIQUES
At the end of the day, both words are a way of broadly classifying the age of an item. As the definitions aren’t hard and fast, it’s best to ask the seller how they define both terms. If you’ve found a vintage or antique piece you love but still aren’t sure what you’re really about to buy, ask the approximate age of the item. You may not be able to get an exact year the item was made, but you'll at least get an idea, and you’ll know if the item was made in the 1800’s or if it’s modern replica made to look older.