What does the terms vintage and antique mean

 What Does The Terms Vintage, Antique, Kitsch, Retro and Second Hand mean?

What does the terms vintage and antique mean with reference to old jewellery?

What does the terms or words vintage or antique actually mean? - a definition guide With the difference between vintage, antique and contemporary or second hand and what do we mean by retro and kitsch when referring to all sorts of jewellery?

On Jewels and Finery UK we are specific in using the terms above as we date many of our items. The guide below gives the age range on when each term can be correctly use and the meaning if applicable.


This term applies to anything that was manufactured between antique and pre owned/second hand. So that's over 25 years old and up to about 100 years old.

In 2019 this is now the years including Art Deco from about 1919 to around 1994. Now it is very difficult to date to exactly these years - so its easy to say from the 1920s up to the end of the 1990s class as being true vintage. 


This term applies to pre Victorian and items that are over 100 years of age. Anything prior to 1919 can be classed as antique. It will include the periods Georgian, Victorian, Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau and Edwardian up to about 1919 (pre Art Deco).

Second Hand, Pre Owned, Pre loved or Contemporary

This terms we use for any piece of jewellery that is up to 25 years old. Exact would be 1994 onwards - but its is very difficult to be that precise - so Jewels and Finery have the age span from the 2000s to yesterday. This means that items have been modern pre owned or pre loved and so not new.
Second hand is called contemporary in the USA. A different meaning to that which the UK uses.
Be also aware that the term second hand is also widely used for any item that has been previously owned, what ever it's age, by many others outside of this website.

Modern-Vintage or Vintage-Modern

Another way of saying pre owned/second hand not not quite real vintage age. Estimated to have been made in the last 20 years. 

Vintage Inspired, Vintage Style or Antique style

In the style of vintage, antique or retro style - you may have seen these terms used. The item may be brand new or previously owned as here on Jewels & Finery but will have some aspect that looks as though it has a designed of many years ago and has been inspired in the style of that period. Be aware that many companies that use the term vintage, actually mean new and in the style of - even though it may be nothing like vintage. They are just jumping on the vintage bandwagon!


The term retro means "old fashioned" or associated with the past/revived from the past. Technically it should be for from the 1940s and 1950s that has a distinct old fashion - quaint look. But nowadays retro can be a term referred to something that has a "days gone by look" especially from the 60s and 50s.


This applies to something that looks fun and quirky and that was once popular and has a sentimental appeal. Now the term refers to items with mass appeal that have become highly collectible. Its can be a stroll down memory lane and can include - kitsch pop it bead necklaces, love beads, macramé and dried flowers embedded in resin (to name just a few items classed as kitsch).

Updated December 2018, Jewels & Finery UK Copyright.