Estate, Antique or Vintage jewellery — call them what you may; one thing’s for sure “Old is Gold” — even if it is a string of tribal beads or coins from the British Raj Era. Here we will take a trip to the past and bring back a few exquisite vintage style jewellery inspirations that are sure to wow you at sight and also make you wish that you had them in your jewelry box.

Before we have a sneak peek at all those gorgeous antique jewellery pieces, here’s a breakdown of what qualifies to be Vintage style jewellery.

“Denoting something from the past which is of high quality, especially something that represents the best of its kind.” Simple as that anything that is called vintage is one of the best ever made and probably, the best you will ever lay hands on. This could be clothes, jewellery, home decor, cars and the list goes on. But we are here to know more about Vintage jewellery designs. And here’s what they are –

Vintage Style Jewellery

Commercially, the more common term to describe these timeless jewellery pieces is “Estate Jewelry.” Basically, from a retail perspective, it refers to jewelry which are part of the ‘estate’ of a deceased person; or simply secondhand or pre-owned jewelry.

The ‘estate’ appellation signifies that the item is antique, vintage or an otherwise considered a significant or important piece. Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Deco, Retro, Organique … the sub-categories for estate jewellery get fancier as you take a scroll through the histories of world’s greatest civilisations. The Egyptians take another major share of the Vintage jewellery charm, while India has a full plate with Mughal enamelling and pearl work, Jadau, Kundan, Polki, South Indian Temple jewellery and what not.

Now, other types of prized vintage jewellery designs can be found in museums or even as brilliant copies of vintage/antique imitation jewellery. Tribal jewellery, like the coin necklaces and heavy silver pieces from Himachal, Punjab, or Kashmir in India have their unique take on antique jewellery design inspiration as well.

So, now let’s get acquainted with one of the biggies of Vintage Jewellery world — the ones from our own heritage rich country:

Traditional Antique Jewellery Designs

The biggest collection of Antique Jewellery Designs come from a great land with history going back longer than you can imagine; yes, that’s right — India. The very fabric of diversity that envelops our great nation opens doors to various interpretations of aesthetics and function; and thus in turn develop a plethora of skills and craftsmanship unique to different parts of the country. Jewels and jewellery have been a part of our rich Indian culture for as long as it has existed. Now called vintage styled jewellery or antique jewellery, these stunning works of adornments have always enjoyed a privileged position in our celebrations.

We may have begun with humble beaded chains and copper chokers, but over time the materials became precious and the intricacy of jewellery-making an art to reckon with. Jadau, Meenakari, Kundan … the names started getting recognition as some of the world’s finest craftsmanship. Soon enough styles and themes like temple jewellery became much sought after, especially for the great Indian weddings and our brides who are pampered like princesses on their special day. Here, let’s take a look at some inspiring Indian antique jewellery designs for various occasions.

Indian antique jewellery designs for various occasions

Before we all get dazzled by old gold and royal diamonds, let me get you acquainted with a few rare but fascinating pieces of jewellery from the past, which can be easily worked into modern day jewellery collections. The antique style necklace above is from 1920s colonial India — look a little closer and you can see the image of King George V as Emperor on the eight British Indian silver rupees that highlights this vintage jewellery design. Crafted by a skilled Himachal silversmith, the antique neckpiece is said to be worn as a charm for wealth and fortune!

Imagine yourself in a sleek all-black outfit and this vintage jewellery as your statement neckpiece — simple as that, but big impact on the style radar. If Indo-western future is not your gig, let’s try matching up this antique necklace with a traditional kurti or even a saree in bright popping colours. Break away from the usual boring ensembles and bring that vintage charm to your look. You can carry off this unique Vintage styled jewellery anywhere from work to party.

Statement Finger Ring

The advantage with Indian antique jewellery designs is that you can adorn almost the whole of your body in blinging golds and classy patterns of silver, copper or bronze. The statement finger ring above is yet another example of exquisite craftsmanship from every corner of our country. From early 20th century Rajasthan, the silver and mirror-worked ring can easily be a prized possession in your jewellery box. The world of fashion often go crazy for elaborate out of the box jewellery that make their own mark in an ensemble; but we Indians had mastered the art of going big from time immemorial. So, it is only fair that today’s designers and designs. stylist go gaga over our traditional antique jewellery designs.

traditional antique jewellery designs.

I cannot tell you what to pair this vintage style jewellery with — it would be ideal if you can create a whole ensemble inspired by this stand-out ring. Everything else would fall short in front of the majestic presence of this vintage jewellery design. One tip though; do not overdo it by putting it together with more chunky jewellery pieces or a lot of bling. A self-pattern saree or a sober salwar suit with a vibrant dupatta can easily complement the the understated sophistication you are going for with this stunning piece of antique jewellery in hand.

Solid Gold Jewellery

vintage style gold jewellery

And then came the Mughals! The vintage style gold jewellery from the Mughal era is a class apart from similar items of adornment from anywhere in the world. Be it the immaculate craftsmanship or the aesthetic patterns, shapes and colours, mughal jewellery transcends time like no other. In a land where, so far, jewellery designs were inspired by nature and mythology, the mughals brought with them fresh styles that combined emeralds, rubies and pearls with pleasing symphony on gold.

This ornament here is debated to be either a nose ring or single earring from the 18th-19th century Mughals. Solid gold acts as the base for a stunning pattern created by rubies, emeralds, and seed pearls. The age gives this vintage style gold jewellery rustic yet highly sought-after image. If you are looking for vintage style jewelry for a wedding, this could be an ideal pick for just that touch of antique charm.

Bird Shaped Pendent

Bird Shaped Pendent

This unique bird shaped vintage style gold jewellery comes from the 17th – 18th century Deccan. At first look, this ornamental pendant is similar to vintage Mughal jewellery; but the unique bird shape and prominent gold work gives it the identity it deserves. Vintage jewellery it may be, but no stranger to contemporary style preferences — the $143,000 price it fetched at an auction vouch for that. Apart from the skillful gold work, the gems and pearl set into this antique style jewellery is evidently selected with care to fit in perfectly with the vintage jewellery design.

Fish Shaped Neckpiece

Fish Shaped Neckpiece

Speaking of unique vintage styled jewellery, this aged gold necklace is as exclusive as it can get. I doubt if there is another like this antique style necklace from the 1890s India. Wouldn’t this be a fresh replacement for the usual Rani Haars that brides lust over. And if you are not looking to be a uber-stylish bride, this vintage jewellery design wouldn’t hurt much somber occasion either.

The hue and texture of the old gold perfectly compliment the out-of-the box fish/tiger claw shaped adornment on the vintage style gold jewellery from the times of British Raj. Where it with plain silk kurta or saree in solid colours and get ready to enjoy the attention at a formal event or a celebratory occasion. You’ve already made your statement with this unique vintage jewellery piece — leave the rest to bask in its glory.

Golden Jadais

Golden Jadais

As described earlier, Indian vintage jewellery has the unique distinction of having designs that can adorn almost every part of the body. These long strands of intricate gold work for example is unique to South India. Called Jadai Nagam, literally translated to ‘hair snake, these vintage style jewellery for a thick head of hair is all it takes to take extravagance to the ultimate level. Though these were fairly common in yesteryear, now it is preferred vintage style jewelry for weddings — you guessed it right, South Indian weddings.

Brides adorn their thick ropes of jet black braids with these luxurious vintage jewellery pieces. Like a magnificent cobra, these pieces of antique jewellery are pinned onto the length of your braided hair — the longer the better. Nowadays, there is an affinity towards floral versions of this vintage style jewelry for weddings, however no flower power can beat the solid presence of intricate gold work laden with precious gems.

Stone embedded vintage Style

Stone embedded vintage Style

Kundan is a style that is very much popular in modern times as well. It has stood  the test of time to continue as a favoured jewellery design style for festive occasions and weddings. Believed to have originated in the royal courts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, the traditional form of gemstone jewellery is mostly featured on elaborately patterned necklaces. The gems are set to the solid gold frame with gold foil in between the stone and its mount. This gemstone technique is widely favoured for exquisite wedding jewellery and statement pieces.

However, as you can see, the vintage jewellery design above stands apart from its modern day counterparts. Five Kundan pendants are strung onto a flexible beaded thread chain with drawstring detailing. The sober beads give an interesting contrast to the glittering Kundan work. This ones for those vintage lovers who would like to embrace the richness of antique jewellery, yet keep all the glimmer and glamour under control.

Colous and vintage

Colous and vintage

Time to bring some colour to your vintage jewellery inspirations — and not via gemstones either. Here’s a one-of-a-kind Mogul peacock necklace in sterling enamel and natural rubies. The Mughal era was one of the most opulent periods in Indian history that saw extravagance take several forms through lifestyles, clothing, and adornment.

With jewellery encompassing pieces that decorate almost every part of the body and clothing, there was indeed a need for variety in technique and pattern. Apart from gemstones, enameling (meenakari) is another art that brought colour to vintage style jewelry from the Mughal era. Enameling is a time consuming process, but produces amazing floral finishes using bird, flower and paisley motifs. It is often combined with jadau (stone-setting) to create astonishing jewellery designs.

Gold and Pearl Jumkas

Gold and Pearl Jumkas

If you have a liking for heavy statement jhumka’s or jhimki’s as they are called in the southern parts of the country, this vintage style jewellery could be an easy pick. Decorated with granulated gold and bunches of seed pearl, this familiar dome shaped ear pendants 1900’s Andhra Pradesh. Notice the intricate patterns of gold work – it is a true mark of skilled craftsmanship reserved for Indian craftsmen from yesteryears. The very fact that these vintage jewellery designs have survived years to pleasure our eyes is reason enough to give them a place of honour in your jewellery box.

So, there we are — doesn’t this quick dose of vintage jewellery inspirations make you wanting to explore more of antique style jewellery designs. Go ahead and take a look at the Victorians and antique egyptian Jewellery too.

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