To the uninitiated, the world of costume jewellery can seem a baffling one, full of collectors, experts and insider info. What’s worth spending on and what’s a waste of your cash? Are there any investment buys? And what should you look out for when buying vintage jewellery? Vintage costume jewellery expert Susan Caplan travels the world sourcing unique and special pieces which are available in her Camden boutique and online, each handpicked and carefully curated. We asked Susan for her top tips on everything you need to know about buying vintage costume jewellery…

Susan Caplan vintage jewellery

Vintage Jewellery v. Costume Jewellery

Vintage jewellery refers to the age of a piece of jewellery and costume jewellery refers to what it is made from – ie non-precious metals

Vintage jewellery = investment buy

The great thing about quality vintage jewellery is that its value is steadily increasing. There are many investment buys still – for example, we are witnessing a surge in popularity (and will do for some time) of jewellery from designers such as Sherman and Regency from the 1950s and 1960s so now is a good time to buy.

costume jewellery regency sherman

Don’t overlook damaged jewellery

Found a piece with a few missing stones or damaged clasp? If the rest of the piece is in mint condition then it could be worth buying and repairing. The condition of a piece of vintage costume jewellery is reflected in its value price. The better condition, the better the investment. Look at the joints for wear, be careful to pay attention to tarnishing, and make sure that the rest of the stones are secure (I sometimes suggest (very) lightly tapping the piece to make sure no stones become displaced).

Converting Vintage Jewellery

It’s always possible to convert vintage jewellery pieces, though clip-on earrings to post earrings is more achievable than a brooch to a necklace, for example. It would all depend on your budget and what you had in mind for the end result.

susan caplan jewellery

Taking care of your jewellery

I advise storing your jewellery flat and away from sunlight, and avoiding contact with liquids (put your hairspray ot perfume on before your jewellery).

For more information on Susan Caplan, see the Susan Caplan Vintage website. Susan Caplan is also available to buy from ASOS, Selfridges, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and the V&A.