How To Shop Vintage Jewellery
How To Shop Vintage Jewellery

How To Shop Vintage Jewellery

With the likes of Saint Laurent putting the light back on statement 80s and 90s jewellery, it’s time for our expert guide to buying vintage. Between them, Susan Caplan, Anna Vitiello and Alice Skewis have got all the inspo and advice you need for sourcing and styling the best pieces…
By Elaine Lloyd Jones

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Luxury creative consultant Anna Vitiello is known for her high-octane take on glamour, especially in the accessories department. She’s just launched a curation of vintage jewellery called Cassetto

I’m drawn towards pieces that are talking points – the ones that everyone asks you about, but you know not everyone will be wearing. Jewellery has such a way of getting people talking, whether it’s fine or costume, and it’s even more special when it’s a one-off piece and you can tell the story of how you found it. 

What’s unique about vintage jewellery is the price point. It doesn’t necessarily dictate how expensive it looks. You can elevate your look with an earring whether it’s unsigned or it’s Balenciaga.

My grandmother wore incredible fine and costume jewellery. I still have a jewelled Dior necklace of hers that I cherish. I’ve always loved the glamour and elegance of a vintage piece, which is why my Pinterest boards are littered with 80s costume jewellery ads. I can’t get enough.

I hunt everywhere from LA to Paris and London to find the best pieces. I go to fairs to buy in person, but I also have amazing buyers who source from auctions and know and understand my eye. I buy a lot online, as well as resale sites and online dealers. I get this electric feeling from finding that amazing piece and adding it to my wardrobe.

ELEVATE YOUR LOOK WITH AN EARRING, whether it’s unsigned or Balenciaga.

The best piece I’ve ever found is a giant pair of 80s YSL drop earrings. They’re coming in Cassetto’s next drop – they’re pristine despite their age and feel like a modern Saint Laurent style yet are incredibly rare. That’s what makes an incredible piece – one I know would sell out instantly in stores if it were to drop as part of a collection today. 

I look to current designer collections to inspire my next buys. I love Nina Ricci’s huge heart earrings and Saint Laurent’s amazing clip-ons, so I’ll take inspiration from them and hunt for similar pieces in a vintage setting. I’ll also look to the runway for styling inspiration and then create my own look from a mix of current-season and vintage jewellery.

I like creating a high-low mix with jewellery. For example, I’ve just bought a gold-plated vintage chain that sits perfectly below my Cartier d’Amour necklace. I also love the contrast of delicate and fine with chunky. Having worked in luxury magazines styling fine and high jewellery, I have a huge appreciation for the prestige of finer pieces, but I also love playing around with them and adding personality to those classics, like my Cartier.

Clip-on earrings are my absolute go-to. I call them lazy-girl bling. I’m not usually one to plan my looks or wear my most amazing outfits day to day, so my jewellery wardrobe is my saving grace. It can level everything up, whether I’m going to Pilates, a big event or anything in between. Nothing transforms a look quite like a beautiful pair of earrings; they always make me feel like I’ve made an effort. There's something so powerful about making a statement with your earrings. It’s a show of confidence, I feel.

Storage is important. For anyone that travels with lots of jewellery in tow, it is important to keep them from bending and breaking, so I not only store but also travel with mine in plastic casing from Hobbycraft – these boxes are one of my favourite discoveries of all time. I also use a gentle lint-free cloth to clean when needed. 

Follow @CassettoClub on Instagram.


Alice Skewis launched her jewellery business last year as a way to fulfil the creative side of her personality. Here she tells us more about sourcing unique pieces and the styles she’s loving right now.

I love the look of vintage pieces. I also love the romantic notion that they’ve lived a life already, with stories to tell. This doesn’t always have to mean an expensive price tag. It's all about the design. A 1980s look is quite fashionable at the moment so there are many companies creating new pieces, but I love the uniqueness of one-off pieces. They offer an authenticity that can’t be replicated. Of course, there is the sustainability aspect of buying something that already exists, too. 

I source pieces from so many different places. I find them online, in markets and vintage fairs here in the UK, but also France and the US. I’ve been contacted by private clients who want to sell their old pieces, auctions… Basically, anywhere and everywhere! Each has its pros and cons. 

There are MANY PIECES I STILL THINK ABOUT and WONDER IF I SHOULD HAVE KEPT, but I hope their new owners love them as much as I did.

Finding pieces in real life is much safer. You can check the condition, the quality and if any stones are missing. I also find scale is a big factor on whether I like earrings in particular. In person you can haggle too. I usually have a figure of what I want to pay in mind, which is down to condition, whether there is a signature mark and how much I will be able to sell for, so there’s no chance of me getting overexcited and spending too much. I also love when a piece needs a little TLC so I can bring it back to its former glory with a gentle clean. It’s most satisfying.

Currently, I love all things with a bamboo-inspired design. I have to be so strict about keeping things, otherwise my private collection would be out of control and my business would turn into a ruse for me to buy myself copious amounts of jewellery. There are many pieces I still think about and wonder if I should have kept, but I hope their new owners love them as much as I did. Bringing these forgotten old pieces out of drawers and back on the town makes me so happy. 

Elodie Earrings Clip On, £45
Elodie Earrings Clip On, £45

I try to choose one piece as the focal point. If they are big statement pieces, choose either the necklace or earrings to be vintage for your outfit, otherwise it can look too much. There’s a bit of distance to a bracelet so this suggestion doesn’t apply to them. A statement pair of vintage earrings or a chunky statement necklace will do all the talking so you don’t need much else. I adore it when people ask me where I bought my jewellery and I can say, it’s vintage. Is there anything cooler than that?

I have no rules when it comes to jewellery. I mix old and new, silver and gold, whatever I feel like at the moment. On New Year’s Eve I wore vintage earrings, a necklace and bracelets. Day to day, I love a simple white t-shirt or grey sweatshirt with a vintage collar necklace or a pair of disc button earrings – so cool and they just elevate a plain casual look. For inspiration I look to Princess Diana and her Harbour Club gym looks with 80s earrings. A more recent muse is Hailey Bieber, who wears a lot of chunky vintage-inspired earrings with her very on-trend fits. 

Great jewellery has the ability to transform a look. It works every time. I find that when you get dressed in whatever you would normally wear – even just to pop to the shop in jeans and a jumper – and you add just one piece of jewellery, you immediately look more polished. The outfit looks thought-through. Sometimes I just grab a handful of pieces from my drawer on my way out and pop them in my handbag. Then when I’m in the car or on the tube and have a moment to think, I have a look through and select something to wear – a little unusual I know, but I’m often short of time and it’s better than going through the day with no jewellery.

I have a whole section on my website about jewellery care. I also include an information sheet with every order but to stop tarnishing, I actually store my jewellery in grip seal plastic bags. Not exactly aesthetically pleasing but it’s the air that tarnishes, so if you can keep the air away, it really helps. 



Jewellery curator Susan Caplan was one of the first to champion the aesthetic of vintage jewellery and its sustainable credentials. Hailing from a family of antique and design experts, she’s the perfect person to share her favourite antique fairs, finds and more...

I was surrounded by antiques and remarkable design from an early age. My parents were avid antique collectors, my mother dabbled in buying and selling at Bermondsey Antiques Market, while other family members had stores in London’s Camden Passage. Another aunt had a store in the London Silver Vaults in the 50s and my cousin Laurence Mitchell is a global authority on Meissen porcelain. My parents’ home was designed by revolutionary architect Walter Segal; it featured a kitchen personally designed and fitted by Terence Conran and pieces by Eames, Hille and Robin Day. It was these influences that ultimately led me to launching Susan Caplan in 2008. 

Jewellery introduces you before you even speak. It says a lot about someone’s personality. However, the craftsmanship, design, extraordinary detail and individuality of vintage jewellery is what makes it even more prized and significant. There is the social history too; as a culture now, we are fascinated by objects that have a past with so many stories behind each piece. I am sure my family inspired that in me with their love of antiques.

Your style is ABOUT YOU AND WHO YOU ARE, so wear what you want, when you want.
Gold-Plated Swarovski Crystal Necklace, £3,995 | Susan Caplan
Gold-Plated Swarovski Crystal Necklace, £3,995 | Susan Caplan
1993 Vintage Chanel Logo Clip-On Earrings, £1,375 | Chanel
1993 Vintage Chanel Logo Clip-On Earrings, £1,375 | Chanel

I would encourage anyone buying vintage jewellery to go with their first instinct. Start with a piece that has caught their initial attention and then follow our 3Cs. Credibility is ensuring its authenticity by establishing if the piece is original. Craftsmanship is ensuring the design was correctly executed for that period by reviewing key components like the weight. Condition is understanding if the piece is in its original condition or if there have been any repairs.

Jewellery can accessorise any outfit. I personally love a classic look with bold statement jewellery. The simpler the outfit, the more jewels I add. Create layers with different necklace lengths so each piece sits inside the other. Long chains or pendants can be doubled or tripled up. Chains wrapped around your wrists look good; matching bangles on each wrist also works well for a dramatic impact. Mix metals and textures. Add an elegant lariat draped down the back of your backless dress for that special occasion.

Brooches are an unsung hero. They can be worn in so many ways, making them a versatile accessory. You can attach one to your bag or hat, carefully use it as a hair accessory, or even add it to a chain to be worn as a pendant for something a bit different. 

It’s important to know when to stop. Your style is about you and who you are so wear what you want, when you want. When you feel comfortable and good, you know it's right.

Jewellery can easily lift your look. I don't go anywhere without my jewellery. Long earrings are a must for me. The bigger the better. It adds that touch of glamour, expresses my personal style and is the finishing touch that instantly pulls your look together.

There are a few key things you can do to keep your jewellery in peak condition. Some of the tips I’ve picked up include storing it flat, avoiding contact with liquids and cosmetics, and keeping pieces away from direct sunlight. Also, don't spray products, such as perfume, on your jewellery or on yourself once you've put it on. Use a soft cloth to wipe it if necessary. 


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