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Estate Jewelry

Estate jewelry — or simply, jewelry that has been previously owned — can broadly be divided into two categories: antique jewelry and vintage jewelry. Antique estate jewelry generally refers to jewelry that is at least 100 years old, while vintage jewelry encompasses anything that is less than 100 years old, typically defined by decades or eras.

Estate jewelry can be an excellent way to add a touch of elegance and luxury to your wardrobe, and it can also be a great investment piece.

Estate jewelry — or simply, jewelry that has been previously owned — can broadly be divided into two categories: antique jewelry and vintage jewelry. Antique estate jewelry generally refers to jewelry that is at least 100 years old, while vintage jewelry encompasses anything that is less than 100 years old, typically defined by decades or eras.

Estate antique jewelry often features high-quality materials such as diamonds and sterling silver, while estate costume jewelry is typically made with lower-quality materials such as gold-plated metals and synthetic stones. However, there are exceptions to this rule — some estate costume jewelry pieces may be made with real diamonds or other precious stones.

We’ll take a look at these and other popular types of estate jewelry featured in previous Nest Egg Auctions, including Victorian jewelry, mourning jewelry, sweetheart pieces, Edwardian jewelry, cameos, cufflinks, men’s rings, gold-filled jewelry, rhinestones, diamonds, designer jewelry, Southwest jewelry and more.

If you have a collection of estate jewelry, we’d like to hear from you. Nest Egg Auctions is capable of appraising and selling on consignment at auction, as well outright purchasing collections from sellers of estate jewelry.

Contact Nest Egg Auctions today at 203-630-1400 or by sending us a message.


Victorian Jewelry

Lasting from 1837 to 1901, the Victorian era was a time of great change, both in terms of fashion and in the social and political landscape. As a result, Victorian jewelry reflects a wide range of influences, from the Romantic Movement to the Industrial Revolution.

During this time, jewelry was often elaborate and highly detailed, with a wide range of materials used. Common motifs included flowers, animals and feathers. Gold was the most popular metal, but silver and other metals were also used. A wide variety of precious gems and stones are featured in antique Victorian jewelry, including diamonds, pearls, sapphires and emeralds. Many pieces were also adorned with enamel work. Some of the most popular types of antique Victorian jewelry include necklaces, brooches and rings, especially engagement and wedding rings.

An example of Victorian Jewelry

While antique Victorian jewelry is highly sought-after by collectors today, it was not always so valuable. In fact, many pieces were mass-produced and affordable, making them accessible to a wide range of people. As a result, antique Victorian jewelry provides a window into the lives of ordinary people from this time period.

Mourning Jewelry

Mourning jewelry is a type of jewelry that was worn to commemorate a loved one who had died. Mourning jewelry has been worn since ancient times, and the earliest examples date back to the Egyptian and Roman empires. It became fashionable in the late 18th century, during a time when mourning was seen as an important ritual that needed to be carried out with proper decorum.

While the style of mourning jewelry varied over time, it typically consisted of black or white stones set in gold or silver. The jewelry was often inscribed with the name of the deceased, and it was worn as a way to keep the person’s memory alive. Mourning jewelry became less common in the 20th century, as attitudes towards death and mourning changed. However, it has experienced a resurgence in recent years, as people have begun to appreciate its beauty and sentimental value. There are now many different types of mourning jewelry available, ranging from simple pendants to intricately designed rings.

Portrait Locket. Example of mourning jewelry.

Mourning jewelry is a type of jewelry that was worn to commemorate a loved one who had died. Mourning jewelry has been worn since ancient times, and the earliest examples date back to the Egyptian and Roman empires. It became fashionable in the late 18th century, during a time when mourning was seen as an important ritual that needed to be carried out with proper decorum.

Sweetheart Pieces

The origins of sweetheart jewelry can also be traced back to ancient times, when adornments such as necklaces and bracelets were given by royalty to their subjects as signs of goodwill. As time went on, antique sweetheart jewelry gradually became more commonplace among the general population and eventually lost much of its political significance.

In many scenarios, young men would leave their sweethearts behind while they were off fighting in the military or exploring distant lands. To remind their loved ones of their enduring feelings, these men would present them with small tokens such as lockets or rings, engraved with messages that expressed friendship or affection between romantic partners.

Over time, antique sweetheart jewelry became a popular and highly sought-after accessory. Today, there are many different types of antique sweetheart jewelry available, ranging from antique engagement rings and necklaces to antique earrings and brooches. Some pieces may boast precious metals and gems, while others may be crafted from materials like lace or pottery.

Marriage Sweetheart Bracelets

One popular style is antique engagement rings that feature the names of the couple or other romantic sentiments engraved on the band. Another classic design is an antique locket that contains pictures or tiny mementos from special moments in the couple’s relationship. Other popular styles include antique charm bracelets and antique pendant necklaces with intricate filigree designs and symbolic motifs like hearts and bows.

Early examples of sweetheart jewelry featured intricate floral motifs or heart-shaped designs encrusted with precious stones like sapphires and rubies. Contemporary sweetheart jewelry tends to be simpler in design but is just as beloved by collectors who see this antique style as a timeless expression of love and sentimentality, an important marker of devotion throughout the ages.

Edwardian Jewelry

During the Edwardian era, a period that spanned from 1901 to 1919, jewelry was often made with striking colors and detailed designs.

The Edwardian era is characterized by a shift away from the opulent, over-the-top aesthetics of the previous Belle Epoque era, and towards a more simple, tasteful and understated style. One of the most characteristic features of this time period was the development of new and innovative jewelry designs. These included everything from intricately engraved pieces crafted out of precious metals like gold and silver to bold, statement pieces adorned with colorful stones like sapphires and rubies.

Some of the most favored types of antique Edwardian jewelry include clover brooches, filigree rings, lockets, dragonfly pins, cameos, chokers, tie tacks, bracelets, drop earrings, hair combs, garnet necklaces and larkspur brooches.

Edwardian Garnet Earrings

The Edwardian era also saw a rise in popularity for wirework jewelry, including bracelets, rings and necklaces made from delicate wires that were formed into intricate patterns. Other notable style trends during this time included pastel-colored stones like moonstones and pearls, as well as diamond accents that were set in platinum or gold settings. The distinct beauty and craftsmanship of Edwardian jewelry has made it a lasting symbol of elegance and luxury to this day.

Cameo Jewelry

Cameo jewelry is a type of antique jewelry that has been around for centuries, prized as works of art and as symbols of status and affluence. The word cameo comes from the Italian word for “shadow” or “profile.” Cameos are typically made from a hardstone, like agate or onyx, that has been carved into a relief. The carving is then set into a metal frame, which can be made from gold, silver or even bronze.

These intricate carvings have been found in a wide range of materials, from stone and shell to glass and even coral. The earliest known cameos date back to ancient Greece, where they were worn as signet rings or used to decorate other items of jewelry. In the following centuries, cameos became increasingly elaborate, with many featuring carved scenes from mythology or everyday life.

Cameo Pin

Cameos continued to be in style during the Roman Empire, and their popularity eventually spread to other parts of Europe. In the 18th and 19th centuries, cameos were especially fashionable, and many skilled artisans became revered for their ability to carve these delicate pieces, usually set in gold or silver frames. Today, cameos come in a wide variety of styles, and they are made from a variety of materials, including plastic, wood and even paper.

One of the most famous cameos is the Grand Duke of Tuscany cameo, which dates back to the early 16th century. This cameo features the profile of Francis I, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany. Another well-known cameo, though not jewelry, is the Portland Vase, which is a Roman glass vase that was carved with two figures in relief. The Portland Vase is currently on display at the British Museum.

Pieces of cameo jewelry were very popular during the Victorian era, when Queen Victoria herself was known to wear them. They fell out of fashion in the early 20th century but have seen a resurgence in recent years. Cameos are still made using traditional methods but they can also be created using modern techniques like 3D printing.



Cufflinks are a type of jewelry that has a long and storied history that stretches back hundreds of years. Originally, they were just small metal fasteners used by men during the 17th and 18th centuries to hold long sleeves in place, and over time, this utilitarian aspect evolved into an opportunity for personal expression. Small metal or button-like objects evolved into more decorative pieces, often incorporating precious metals like gold and silver.

These days, there are a wide variety of different styles of cufflinks available for men, including antique cufflinks that incorporate engravings or artful designs as well as modern cufflinks made from more contemporary materials like plastic or metal.

One popular type of men’s cufflink is the classic oval or rectangular design. These simple styles have been used for centuries and can be crafted from a variety of materials, including metal, enamel, wood, and even gemstones like onyx or turquoise. Another popular type of men’s cufflink is the shirt stud, which is usually made from a more ornate metal design with precious stones or bold engravings. Other common styles of men’s cufflinks include novelty styles like those featuring animals or pop culture icons, as well as more practical designs ideal for work or outdoor activities.

Men's diamond and gold cufflinks

Some typical features of cufflinks include the shape of the face — which can be round or square — as well as various patterns or textures on the front and back of the piece, ranging from simple lines to designs such as repeating patterns or even gemstones.

Men's Rings

Men’s rings have been used throughout history as a symbol of status, wealth and power. Over the years, they have taken on many different forms and materials, illustrating the diverse tastes and preferences of men over the centuries.

One of the oldest types of rings is antique rings, which were originally made from simple materials like bone or stone. These antique rings were usually worn to signify status and achievement, and they often featured unique symbols or inscriptions that reflected the wearer’s beliefs or achievements. During the Middle Ages, gold was commonly used to create men’s rings that signified a man’s rank within society.

Men's Diamond Ring

In addition to antique rings, there are many other types of men’s rings that are popular today. Some of these include wedding bands, signet rings, pinky rings, class rings and men’s commitment rings, which are often made from precious metals such as gold or silver. Other common materials include black diamonds, rubies and onyx.


Gold-Filled Jewelry

Gold-filled jewelry is created by bonding a layer of gold to a base metal, such as brass. The gold content must be at least 5% by weight, and the base metal can be anything from brass to sterling silver. The advantage of gold-filled jewelry is that it has the same look as solid gold, but it is much more affordable. This process is different from gold-plating, which uses a thin layer of gold that can easily wear away. As a result, gold-filled jewelry is more durable and longer-lasting than gold-plated jewelry.

A vareity of gold-filled jewelry

Although it was first used in the late 19th century, gold-filled jewelry became especially popular during the Art Deco period when flashy and elegant designs were all the rage. Many estate jewelers still create breathtaking pieces using this technique. It’s still popular among collectors and fashion enthusiasts.

There are two main types of gold-filled jewelry: rolled gold and hammered gold. Rolled gold is made by heat-trapping layers of gold between two sheets of metal. Hammered gold is made by hammering thin sheets of gold onto a base metal. Estate jewelers often use both types of gold-filled metals in their creations.


Rhinestone jewelry is a type of estate jewelry particularly popular among collectors. Rhinestones are imitation diamonds, usually made from glass or crystal. They became popular in the early 20th century as a more affordable alternative to diamonds.

Rhinestones are usually found on costume jewelry, but they can also be found on fine jewelry from producers such as Weiss, Napier, Trifari and Eisenberg. Estate rhinestone jewelry is usually made with Swarovski crystals, which are cut glass stones that have a high refractive index. Rhinestone jewelry can be made with different shapes and sizes of stones, and the stones can be set in different ways. Estate rhinestone jewelry is usually more expensive than costume jewelry, but it can last longer as the stones are more durable.

A collection of rhinestone jewelry



A solitaire diamond ring is a type of ring that typically features a single diamond solitaire set in the center of the ring. The solitaire can be set in a variety of ways, such as prong or bezel setting, and is often accompanied by smaller diamonds set into the band.

While solitaire rings are often thought of as traditional engagement rings, they can also be worn as fashionable cocktail rings or as part of a more casual everyday outfit. The solitaire setting is also very durable, which is important for a ring that will be worn every day. Solitaire diamond rings are a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings, as well as for special occasions like anniversaries.

Diamond Solitaire Ring

Art Deco Diamond Rings

Art Deco rings are characterized by their use of geometric shapes and bold, dramatic designs. Popular during the Art Deco period of the early 20th century, these rings were often made with diamonds and other precious stones. Diamond rings from this period are often set in platinum or white gold, and feature intricate designs with pavé-set diamonds. While the original Art Deco rings were often quite simple in design, later versions became increasingly elaborate, incorporating a variety of different diamonds and gemstones.

Art Deco Diamond Ring

Diamond Tennis Bracelets

A diamond tennis bracelet is a bracelet made of diamonds and other precious stones. The term “tennis bracelet” was first used in 1987 when American tennis player Chris Evert lost her diamond bracelet after the clasp broke during a U.S. Tennis Championships match, stopping to search for it.

The diamond bracelet became popular among celebrities and royalty, a must-have fashion accessory. Many diamond tennis bracelets are made with high-quality diamonds, making them quite expensive. However, there are also many fake or “costume” diamond tennis bracelets on the market, which are much less expensive and still quite beautiful.

Diamond Pendants

Diamonds have been prized for their beauty and durability for centuries, and diamond pendants have been a favorable way to wear them. The first diamond pendants were probably crudely cut pieces of rock, but the diamond pendant as we know it began to take shape in the Middle Ages. Early diamond pendants were used as medallions or talismans, sometimes believed to possess magical powers.

Eventually, diamond pendants became more ornamental, with wealthy Europeans commissioning lavish pendants encrusted with precious stones. By the Renaissance, diamond pendants were highly fashionable among the wealthy, and they often featured Religious or patriotic symbols. In the 19th century, diamond pendants became more delicate and feminine, often taking the form of hearts or flowers.

Diamonds are still the most popular choice for pendants, but other stones such as sapphires and emeralds are also used. Pendants are often crafted from gold, silver or platinum. Whether simple or elaborate, diamond pendants are sure to add a touch of elegance to any outfit.

Diamond Pendant Necklace

Colored Gemstones

Colored gemstones are minerals used in jewelry and other decorative items, available in a wide range of colors, including red, blue, green, yellow and purple. The most popular colored gemstones are diamonds, rubies and sapphires. Diamonds are the hardest known natural material and have a high refractive index, which makes them extremely sparkly. Rubies are a type of corundum and get their rich, red color from traces of chromium. Sapphires are also a type of corundum and can be any color except for red (which would make them a ruby). Other popular colored gemstones include emeralds (green), topaz (pale blue, pink, red, brown, varying shades of yellow, and even black) and amethysts (purple). Colored gemstones are often cut into faceted stones or carved into ornate shapes. They can be set into metal settings or made into stand-alone pieces.

Colored gemstones


Tiffany & Co.

Founded in 1837 by Charles Tiffany and John Young, Tiffany & Co. started out as a stationery and gifts store in New York City before ascending to one of the most iconic jewelry brands in the world. Tiffany’s gained a reputation for its elegant and high-quality products, and in the early 1840s, the company began to focus more on jewelry.

Tiffany’s also became popular for its distinctive blueboxes, which were introduced in 1845. Tiffany’s jewelry is made from a variety of materials, including gold, silver, platinum and diamonds. The company offers a wide range of jewelry, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and pendants. Tiffany’s has been associated with some of the most famous diamonds in the world, including the Hope Diamond and the Tiffany Yellow Diamond.

Tiffany & Co. Key Necklace

Tiffany’s became especially well-known for its diamond engagement rings, which were popularized by an advertising campaign in the late 1800s. Today, Tiffany & Co. offers a wide range of jewelry, from classic diamond engagement rings to modern sterling silver necklaces. The company has also expanded into other areas, such as home décor and accessories. Tiffany & Co. is a true icon in the world of jewelry, and its pieces are cherished by collectors and fashionistas alike.


Cartier is a world-renowned French jewelry and watchmaking company that was founded in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier. For over 170 years, Cartier has been creating exquisitely crafted jewelry for royalty, Hollywood celebrities and discerning customers around the world.

Cartier’s signature style combines classic elegance with a modern sensibility, and the company is best known for its timeless designs, such as the Cartier Love bracelet and the Cartier Santos watch. In the early 1900s, Cartier began experimenting with new materials and styles, creating iconic pieces like the Panther bracelet, Trinity ring and Tank watch.

Cartier Love Bracelet

David Yurman

David Yurman is a well-known jewelry designer who has been creating beautiful pieces for over 30 years. His jewelry is often characterized by its use of colorful gemstones and mix of metals. David Yurman’s first foray into the world of jewelry design came in 1980 when he created a limited edition collection for Bergdorf Goodman. This initial success led to the launch of his eponymous line the fol- lowing year. In 1982, Yurman released his signature cable bracelet, a twisted helix adorned with gem- stones at each end. Part of the David Yurman Renaissance collection, the cable motif was awarded two design trademarks, a rarity among designers. His cable design would weave throughout all of his sub- sequent collections.

David Yurman Bracelet


Effy jewelry is a line of fine jewelry that was launched in 1979. Effy’s founder, Effy Hematian, was born in Iran and immigrated to the United States with his wife and son. Possessing a rich background in electrical engineering, his goal was to create unique jewelry designs that were youthful and fresh, selling his designs out of his suitcase. Effy’s use of color gemstones was inspired by his travels to Asia and Africa.

Effy Bracelet

Effy is best known for their unique designs and use of color gemstones. Effy has a wide variety of jew- elry including rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. They also have a bridal collection. Effy is one of the leading designers of color gemstone jewelry in the world. Effy’s designs have been featured in magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle, with celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry and Beyonce having all been spotted wearing Effy jewelry.

Henry Dunay

Henry Dunay is a well-renowned jewelry designer who got his start in the industry over 50 years ago. His eponymous brand is characterized by its use of unique materials and traditional craftsmanship techniques.

Some of the most popular types of Henry Dunay jewelry include his signature gold vermeil pieces, as well as his diamond-encrusted designs. Many of his pieces are inspired by nature, and he often incorpo- rates elements like leaves, flowers, vines and other organic forms into his work. Whether it’s a simple pendant or an elaborate tiara, Henry Dunay’s jewelry is always exquisite and timeless.

Henry Dunay Necklace

Elizabeth Locke

Elizabeth Locke is a jewelry designer with a passion for history and art. Her designs are inspired by the past, with a modern twist that makes them unique and highly sought-after. Locke first began her career as an antique dealer, and she quickly developed a keen eye for quality and design. She eventually earned a degree in gemology and began designing her own line of jewelry, which became popular among collectors and fashionistas alike.

Elizabeth Locke jewelry is typically made from gold or silver, incorporating semiprecious stones such as turquoise, coral and lapis lazuli. In addition to her signature line of jewelry, Elizabeth Locke also designs a range of other accessories, including handbags, belts and scarves.

Locke’s designs are inspired by antique jewelry, particularly from the Georgian and Victorian eras. One of her signature pieces is the “Perroquet” brooch, which features a cluster of vibrant gemstones arranged in a feathery motif. Perroquets were popular symbols of status and luxury during the Georgian period, and Elizabeth’s modern interpretation is both beautiful and eye-catching.

Elizabeth Locke Jewelry


Southwest Jewelry – Zuni, Navajo

Zuni and Navajo silver jewelry are both popular among collectors and those looking for distinct and stylish accessories. Zuni jewelry is typically more delicate and detailed, with inlaid stones and intricate designs. Navajo jewelry is often more simple and streamlined, with bold geometric patterns. Both Zuni and Navajo silver jewelry is made from sterling silver, which is considered the highest quality silver available. The addition of other metals makes sterling silver more durable and less likely to tarnish than pure silver. Zuni and Navajo jewelers are highly skilled artisans, and their jewelry is prized for its beauty and craftsmanship.

Southwest Silver Squash Blossom Necklace

Designer Sterling Silver

Designer sterling silver jewelry is some of the most beautiful and timeless jewelry you can buy. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver usually containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, typically copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925. designer sterling silver jewelry is made with this high-quality silver, so you can be sure that it will last for many years to come.

There are several different types of designer sterling silver jewelry available, from necklaces and pendants to earrings and rings. Silver bracelets are another popular type of designer sterling silver jewelry. Bracelets can be delicate and dainty, or they can make a bold statement. There are also many different types of designer sterling silver earrings to choose from. Earrings can be hoops, studs or drops. No mat- ter what type of designer sterling silver jewelry you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something that suits your taste.

Georg Jensen Designer Sterling Jewelry


If you have a collection of estate jewelry, we’d like to hear from you. Nest Egg Auctions is capable of appraising and selling on consignment at auction, as well outright purchasing collections from sellers of estate jewelry.

Contact Nest Egg Auctions today at 203-630-1400 or by sending us a message.

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