Jewelers Suite JHJ Magazine

Vintage Inspired Jewelry vs Reproduction

written by JC Blackburn

People sometimes ask me “Isn’t Vintage Inspired just a fancy word for Reproduction”?.

I love it when people ask me this question because I feel a sense of satisfaction when educating them about the difference; It must be from my days as a School teacher, many moons ago.

Vintage inspired may mean different things to different people. To me, it means taking the best elements from the bygone era and fusing it with modern advancements in technology.

Vintage Inspired is blending old world techniques with some modern manufacturing processes, and designing in a way that creates structural integrity to the jewelry so it will last; making sure to keep the wonderful detailing that is painstakingly done by hand.

Quite often, you will see an original antique piece made very thin and bent from years of wear. To the original jeweler’s credit, this was probably done due to the scarcity and price of the metal they were working on, not because of any lack of skill. It’s actually a small miracle that a piece of jewelry, especially a daily worn one, was able to last that long. It’s important when recreating these timeless styles, that we improve what we can, while keeping the overall beauty and delicateness of the design.

Most vintage inspired pieces are made using CAD Cam designing in order to make different sizes efficiently. Typically, vintage inspired pieces will still use lost wax casting, rather than completely hand made. This allows for consistency from piece to piece as well as having the ability to make multiples at a price that is affordable for the consumer.

Let’s take a typical engagement ring for a two-carat diamond that was made in platinum in the 1920’s. It was made completely by hand, hammering, bending and filing the platinum. Each tiny slit in the design was pierce sawed to perfection. This part can now be done by lost wax casting.

However, the finishing part: raising the beads for diamond setting, creating the tiny, millegrain beads, doing the extra filing to remove all extra metal left over from the casting, are all things that would have been done in true vintage and antique jewelry; this process continues to be done in vintage inspired jewelry.

Often the vintage inspired piece will be cast in two or three several different parts and assembled together, allowing for a thinner, lighter design to be made.

In contrast, a reproduction piece, for the most part, is a piece of jewelry that is made with a basic “look” of a vintage piece but takes none of the important, added steps to make it a truly quality piece of jewelry. For example, prongs may be cast in the metal, millegrain beading may already be in the casting. Often you will see clumps of metal in the open work area because the time wasn’t taken to clean it up.

A typical reproduction piece will certainly have a much heavier weight than a vintage or vintage inspired piece and it will tend to feel “clunky”. Reproduction pieces are faster and easier to make so, naturally, they will be priced accordingly.

The vintage inspired engagement ring will give the beautiful visual effect of an actual antique piece of jewelry. The detailed metalwork, along with the delicate symmetry and ornate patterns reflect the masterful work of an era when quality was of utmost importance. At the same time, the sturdiness in vintage inspired rings assure the wearer that the ring will last a lifetime.

Next time you get a chance to view a quality, vintage inspired piece of jewelry by JC Blackburn, be sure to pull out your loupe and inspect the details so you can experience the marvel of a finely crafted vintage inspired piece.