Antique Lockets: Guide to Pieces of the Past

Antique locket

Collectors and fans of jewelry with history should consider antique lockets. These old-fashioned lockets combine the craftsmanship and the designs of yesteryear that may not be as common in modern jewelry. Learn about antique lockets, and get shopping and jewelry care tips.

Locket History

Lockets have been around for hundreds of years. In the medieval times, lockets carried medicine, personal talismans, and even nefarious items, such as poison. The Victorians used lockets for mourning jewelry, as well as for romantic tokens like carrying a lock of a loved one's hair. Over the years, small photographs became the most common item to place in a locket.

Appeal of Antique Lockets

Antique jewelry refers to jewelry from over 100 years ago, a time when handcrafted jewelry was the standard. If you are searching for handcrafted lockets with original designs, you will find many options among antique jewelry. Antique fine jewelry lockets are often more affordable than a new piece in a similar design made with the same materials. People who like shopping for hidden treasures in antique stores, estate sales, or thrift shops can sometimes find unique antique lockets for a bargain.

Common Antique Locket Styles

Antique locket styles range from simple metal pendants to ornate pieces with intricate details. The most common metals used were brass, copper, and gold.

Here are some examples of styles:

  • Brass oval locket with floral pattern etching
  • Gold circular locket with scrollwork cover
  • Gold oval locket with cameo cover
  • Plain gold heart-shaped locket
  • Ornate square-shaped locket with filigree artwork on both sides
  • Egg-shaped gold filigree locket that opens in the middle
  • Fan-shaped locket with scrollwork cover
  • Circular brass locket with a rose design in seed pearls on the cover
  • Oval rose gold and black enamel locket
  • Gold heart locket with an Old Mine Cut diamond on the center of the cover

Many designs are possible. Some of the most original locket designs are among antique jewelry.

Shopping Guide for Buying Antique Jewelry

Shopping for antique jewelry means considering previously-owned jewelry. There can be many beautiful pieces in excellent condition, but there can also be some items that are worn out or in need of repair. Shoppers should be careful not to overpay for an item and to only buy a piece of jewelry that is in good condition or can easily be fixed. Here are some tips to find quality antique lockets:

  • Examine lockets in person when possible. If purchasing jewelry online, make sure the retailer has a return and full refund policy if the locket is not as described or is poor quality.
  • When examining the locket, make sure it opens and shuts properly and that there are not any missing or broken parts or bad scratches.
  • If the locket needs repair, make sure it can be fixed. It is also a good idea to make sure the price of repairing the locket will not cost more than the piece is worth.
  • Have a jeweler clean and tighten parts on the locket before the first wearing to make sure the piece is in the best condition.

Jewelry Care Recommendations

Antique jewelry is sometime quite fragile. These care tips will help keep any locket in good condition:

  • Store the locket in a satin jewelry pouch inside of a jewelry box when not worn.
  • If the locket gets dirty, carefully wipe it with a soft cloth. Some materials, such as brass, silver, or copper, may need polishing with a jeweler's polish cloth. A jeweler can provide these clothes and gentle cleaning solutions safe for antique jewelry. Do not use abrasive chemical cleaners and polishing solutions on antique jewelry.
  • Take off the locket when taking a shower, swimming, playing rough sports, or doing heavy chores to prevent it from accidentally getting broken.

Take Care of Your Investment

With the right care, an antique locket can look beautiful and be treasured for years to come. Next, consider adding some valuable vintage costume jewelry to your collection.

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Antique Lockets: Guide to Pieces of the Past