If you’ve never purchased vintage before, knowing where to start or what to look for can be an overwhelming experience but at NMJ, we’ve tried to make the process as seamless as possible for you. Our team of master jewellers do all of the groundwork for you – checking, crosschecking, authenticating and restoring the pieces – so by the time it comes to making your choice, you can do so with confidence, knowing that it’s in the best possible condition for its age and it comes with the NMJ stamp of approval.
Each piece of vintage jewellery that we source has a unique history that we do our very best to preserve, while respectfully restoring any material weakness that is natural and expected as a result of its age. We undertake a stringent quality checking process of all our vintage pieces to ensure that they are appropriately durable for continued wear, and any concerns that we come across are closely inspected to determine what kind of repair is required, if any.
We never go so far as to do any major reconstruction work, as we want to preserve as much of the original materials, and the charm of the original craftsmanship, as possible. Sometimes we have to pass on special pieces that we fall in love with as they require too much restoration - heartbreaking, but necessary so that we are only offering the highest quality vintage pieces to our clients!
We are committed to restoring, wherever possible, these beautiful pieces to give you the peace of mind that not only have we curated a collection of antique and vintage jewellery that we know our clients will love, but so that we can ensure that every single piece is ready to embark on the next chapter of its life, and can bring you joy for many years to come.
The process of restoration is undertaken in our Avalon studio by our team of gifted jewellers. Each piece is assessed initially by Natalie and Em, who look for pieces that are in excellent vintage condition with only slight wear, or superficial imperfections that are easily repaired. Our Head Jeweller then inspects the piece and passes it on to our in-house gemmologist if necessary, who assists with confirming the types of stones that may feature. We also check each piece of jewellery for any hallmarks, which can tell us a lot about the provenance and materials and can help to establish authenticity.
Sometimes the hallmarks on the piece are degraded and can’t be read, and in this case, we use an acid testing method to identify the carat of the metal. This method involves using different strengths of acid to test the rate that the alloy in the metal dissolves, which will tell us the final carat. It sounds scary, but we use trace elements of the metal from the piece to test, so the actual vintage jewellery isn’t affected by this process!
We clean each piece thoroughly and check all the stones under a loop for any wear or damage, and to ensure that they are securely within their settings. We then proceed to polishing, with a careful eye. When polishing we always try to preserve any characteristics that we think speak to the history of the piece, such as any imperfections that speak to the incredible life it has lived so far.
If there are any minor structural repairs required, we enlist the help of our master jeweller, who carefully remakes the necessary elements with an amazing attention to detail. Most commonly we find that the claws holding the stones in need to be ‘re-tipped’, which is a process of adding new metal to the ends of the claws (and sometimes replacing the entire claw altogether), so that the stone can be secured. Occasionally pieces have been bent or warped after years and years of wear, so we carefully straighten and adjust any elements that need love so that they are as good as new. Most frequently, however, we find that these pieces have been lovingly cared for and present very little need for anything other than a light polish to really make them shine.
Many of our beautiful vintage and antique pieces are over 100 years old, and there is always an element of structural fragility that comes with their age. We always choose pieces that we fall in love with - pieces that speak to us of their unique stories, and ones that we can’t wait to share with our clients, who we know will give them loving homes. We are completely devoted to going through this process of restoration so that we can bring these magical pieces back to life, to share their sentiment, and to pass on our passion for unique, traditionally crafted, timeless heirlooms to a new generation of jewellery lovers.