How to Wear Antique Jewelry

Many people remain unsure of how to wear antique jewelry. Stack a few simple vintage bands on one hand to complement a large antique cocktail ring like this gorgeous Art Deco ring on the other.

How to Wear Antique Jewelry

Antique jewelry is stunning, timeless and unique. Better yet, there is a history behind every piece. Sometimes the beauty of the piece comes from sentimental value; knowing that is has been worn by your family for generations. Other times, beauty derives from the mystery behind the piece. Who has previously worn it, loved it, and how did it end up here? Antique jewelry by definition has been around for at least one hundred years- just think of all the stories a piece could possess. Still, many people remain unsure of how to wear antique jewelry. While these pieces are stunning, navigating how to wear them in a modern world can be tricky. But never fear- we have the perfect guide for you.


First up is styling. One of the first things people consider when they are venturing into the world of antique jewelry is how they would style these pieces, which can often seem at odds with the contemporary society we live in. For example, pieces which once had a practical use such as mourning jewelry may initially feel out of place when worn in this day and age. However, there are many ways to style antique jewelry that can feel more natural.

You can even incorporate pieces of vintage mourning jewelry into your everyday wear. This collection of mourning jewelry sold for $93.75 in 2017.

Different Ways to Wear Antique Jewelry

Our first tip is to throw the rule book out of the window. Although antique jewelry may seem reminiscent of uptight days gone by, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are no rules surrounding jewelry- you don’t have to wear a piece in its original style if this is not something you like! Brooches are one of the most versatile pieces of jewelry out there. They can be modeled both traditionally and in quirkier ways, such as on scarves and hats. Additionally, antique jewelry can be altered if necessary to fit your own personal style. Cufflinks, for example, may be remodeled into stud earrings. Changes like this are often made for sentimental purposes, like daughters wanting to enjoy their father’s antique jewels.

You can repurpose vintage cufflinks into earrings. These beautiful enamel French cufflinks turned into earrings sold for$10.50 in July 2018.

On the theme of being creative, don’t worry about mismatching pieces of antique jewelry. Different eras, styles, and metals can look fabulous together. Clashing colors can work too when done right. People often worry that they will look gaudy if they embrace brightly colored jewels when in reality this adds a lot of interest to a look. More is also better when it comes to stacking antique items such as necklaces and rings. Although it may initially feel as though each individual piece is being overshadowed, together they create a very complimentary look.

Another way to wear antique jewelry is to repurpose it. At one point, baby rings were incredibly popular as gifts for newborns. However, we can’t imagine that many people will be able to fit into them now! One way of giving these antiques a new lease of life is to wear them as a midi style ring. This is an easy way to put a modern spin on such a piece.

What to Wear With Antique Jewelry

One of the best ways to elevate antique jewelry in this day and age is to pair it with more chic, minimalist clothing. This beautiful jade locket is available for a little over $6200.

You don’t have to don a full crinoline to be able to rock antique jewelry. In fact, one of the best ways to elevate antique jewelry in this day and age is to pair it with more chic, minimalist clothing. This creates a contrast between old and new that really allows your jewelry to stand out. Black is always in style and is the perfect canvas for most types of antique jewelry. Antique Victorian mourning jewelry features a lot of black elements and can work as well against a smart black shirt as brightly colored gemstone jewelry would. A V- neck top is also a very versatile piece for modeling antique jewelry. Give a brooch a modern update by wearing it in the dip of the V. Layered necklaces also work wonderfully with this look, as they work to balance the open space that the V neck creates.

Contrastingly, if you wanted to really embrace the history of the piece and reflect this in your clothing, then go for it! For an event, a flapper-esque 1920s dress would be the perfect way to dress up an Art Deco style ring. The authenticity of the piece would also be a great conversation starter.

How to Mix Modern and Antique Jewelry

There are many ways to embrace antique jewelry without feeling like you’ve just stepped out of a museum exhibit; you just have to get creative. If you are aiming to experiment with wearing antique jewelry for the first time, then the best thing to do is take it one step at a time.  Mix antique pieces with vintage or contemporary items that you already own. These will not look out of place together as long as you balance them properly. For example, stack a few simple vintage bands on one hand to complement a large antique cocktail ring on the other.

Just adding one piece of elegant antique jewelry immediately elevates your look. This gorgeous antique brooch is available for a little over $4000.

An easy way to begin this pairing process is to choose a metal or color combination that you like and bear this in mind when you put your look together. This way, items will look coherent even though they are from different time periods. This is the perfect transition into wearing antique jewelry if you don’t feel fully ready to embrace clashing colors and metals. Remember, you don’t have to dive straight in with the boldest antique jewelry imaginable. Just adding one piece of elegant antique jewelry immediately elevates your look.

Caring for Antique Jewelry

Aside from knowing how to style antique jewelry, it is also important to know how to wear it in a way that reflects the value of it (both sentimental and historical!). When wearing antique jewelry, it is important to consider your lifestyle. This will undoubtedly impact the amount of jewelry you wear, as well as the style of it. However, regardless of lifestyle, there are some general tips that apply to any lover of antique jewelry.

First, try not to get your jewelry wet. Antique jewelry is particularly hardy (it’s lasted for over one hundred years after all); however, prolonged or repeated contact with water can test even the strongest of styles. So no more doing the washing up without taking your rings off! While they will likely be fine, it’s best to preserve the quality of the pieces. The same goes for slathering your jewels in moisturizer or hand lotion. This may not do immediate damage to the piece, but why risk affecting the integrity of something so unique and beautiful?

So that’s how to wear antique jewelry. The most important tip, however, is to wear it with confidence. No matter how you style it or what pieces you’re wearing, if you feel good, you’ll look good- and self-confidence is the best look of all.

Andrew Campbell, founder and owner of AC Silver, has been dealing in antique silver and antique jewelry since 1977. In addition to a premier retail premises in Newcastle, north-east England, Andrew has developed an internationally recognized online store, serving both new and return customers nationally and worldwide.

Andrew personally sources a wide range of items, including antique jewelry, antique diamond rings, and antique gemstone rings. Andrew has also developed a fine and comprehensive inventory of antique silverware, AC Silver is a respected and trusted specialist in its field.

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