Is all of this stuff really old (reproduction or authentic?)
Yes, our jewelry is really old! Most of our collection dates to the 1880s–1940s, although we love to stock jewelry from many different eras. In addition to our vintage and antique pieces, we stock a few collections of antique-inspired pieces: our collaborations with Beth Bejeweled and our Cachet Collection fall into this category.
What is the difference between an “old cut” diamond and a “modern cut” diamond?
The difference is cut, color, and brilliance.
Cut: Old cut diamonds look different than modern cut diamonds because of the way that they are cut AND the because of the natural characteristics of the gemstones themselves. Diamond cutting technology was not as developed nor tools as precise 100 years ago. This means that facets on old cuts (rose, miner, European) are not perfectly symmetrical, tables are smaller, perimeters are uneven ,etc. Interesting fact: Old cut diamonds can sometimes appear smaller in a setting than their modern counterparts, even when they are the exact same carat weight! This is because more of the gemstone is below the girdle. If you want to maximize the “spread” of your stone and go for a larger table (top facet), an old cut might not be the right stone for you. BUT if you want a diamond that mirrors true love — imperfectly perfect, flawed but dynamic — we think old cuts are a perfect choice.
Color: The diamonds mined 100 years ago tended to be lower color grade, which meant that diamond cutters prioritized color — not brilliance /sparkle — when they sat down to cut the stones. Diamond cutters can actually control the way that light enters and exits a gemstone, changing the way that we experience color and sparkle — how cool! Old diamonds were cut for the dispersion of light. Dispersion or “fire” is color light: white light enters the diamond, travels through it at different speeds and is dispersed and exits at different times. When you look at an old diamond, you are seeing spectral colors and less “white” light. They are cut to capture light and hold it for a while before sending it back to our eyes. Some people describe this as “drawing the eye in” or experiencing the “warmth” or “winking light” of an old diamond. Modern diamonds, on the other hand, are cut to maximize our experience of white light.
Brilliance: Are old diamonds are bright and sparkly as new diamonds? Not less, just different! And that is why we love them. Old stones have a much softer sparkle than a modern stone. They are beautiful and active in ALL light — including candlelight!
What is the difference between this stuff and the stuff at the mall?
We don’t order from a catalog and there is only ONE of anything that we stock — so if you love it, seize the day! The rings that you see in our bridal case were made by jewelers anywhere from 50–200 years ago, mostly in the U.S. but also in the U.K. and across Europe. You will notice hand-engraved accents, hand-pierced filigree, and other “human scale” details that convey a high level of craftsmanship — something that can be lost in the modern, mass-produced jewelry that we see in big box stores. But who knows . . . maybe in 100 years, the jewelry at the mall will be in an antique shop like this one? And on and on!
What makes something “antique”?
“Vintage” can mean anything 20–99 years old, so that is a big range. That means that Avon jewelry from the 1980s and cocktail rings from the 1930s are technically both “vintage.” For that reason, “vintage” alone is not a great descriptor. “Antique” is anything 100 years old or more, which tells you a bit more about rarity but still nothing about quality. The devil — and the fun — is in the details!
Do you sell anything that is made in Michigan?
Yes! Our JJV Cachet Collection is made start-to-finish in Michigan!
Do you ever have sales?
Yes! We usually have a Spring Sale and a Pre-Holiday Sale. If you sign up for our e-newsletter, we will be sure to let you know when it is coming up. You can also get up-to-the-minute details about new arrivals, flash sales, etc. on Instagram (@jeanjeanvintage)
Do you provide appraisals?
95% of our diamond and some of our gemstone rings already have an appraisal by a third party, GIA Graduate Gemologist. If the diamond is under .20 carat, we sometimes appraise in house. If we don’t have an appraisal for your favorite ring on file, we will happily procure one for you.
Can you size my ring?
Most of the time, yes! Please see individual listings for sizing possibilities.
How should I take care of my old jewelry?
Wear: Not all antique jewelry is best-suited to hard, daily wear. Generally speaking, older pieces should be treated as "special occasion" jewelry and worn joyfully but with care. We recommend that you remove your most precious pieces with you do hard physical activity (gardening, working out, cleaning) or when you swim and bathe. For those pieces that you do wear day-to-day (engagement rings!) please take them to be checked by a jeweler once or twice a year. It is not unusual for gemstones to loosen over time and a bit of preventative maintenance goes a long way!
Care: Less is more when it comes to antique jewelry! A soft buffing with a polishing cloth, a bit of mild dish soap on a toothbrush . . . spot cleaning is often the best way to go! Submerging closed back jewelry or gemstones like opals, pearls, and turquoise is not recommended. Non-abrasive cleaners and cloths are a must! If you have any questions or want a bit of guidance, you can always take your jewelry to a trusted jeweler for professional cleaning.