Luscious stones and perfectly polished metals are oft-lauded qualities of today’s jewellery. Yet, for the romantics, it is the slightly worn-out jewellery with faded gems that have a special hold.

The desire for vintage gems is not one that’s just driven by a sense of nostalgia. In a time where mass-produced jewels reign, ‘vintage’ spells a mystical uniqueness and individuality. Most pieces — especially precious works — in the 19th century are hand-crafted by trained jewellers with little machinery. As such, there are always small imperfections that add character, rather than to blemish, vintage jewellery.

These pieces are not easy to find, but there are boutiques in Singapore that are dedicated to scouring the world for the quality pieces. Few would give you absolute confidence that what you’re buying is truly vintage though so here, we share with you the best places to go treasure hunting for ‘new’ gems.

 

1
Deja Vu Vintage

This vintage clothing boutique holds a massive wardrobe of eclectic couture pieces dating from the 1940s to the 1980s. Clothing from luxury brands such as Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and Yves Saint Laurent line the racks here. Before getting lost in this treasure trove of fashion, be sure to pay some attention to the equally stellar collection of pre-loved accessories as well. Deja Vu Vintage holds an intriguing curation of costume accessories bedecked in rhinestones and filigree work. They can be a little loud for today’s fashion, but the friendly staff here has some fresh ideas on how to pair these accessories with everyday outfits.

9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-70, Millenia Walk, Singapore 039596. Tel: 6338 8013.

 

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2
The Retro Factory

If you love the idea of combing through tons of jewellery in flea markets, be sure to bookmark The Retro Factory on social media. This vintage market collective hosts monthly pop-up fairs, featuring a range of vendors selling various wares from furniture pieces to watches. The Retro Factory has its own stall with tables flooding with rows of rings and pendants, most of which are sterling silver pieces with semi-precious gems. If you’re lucky, you might come across a few Victorian signet rings from the early 20th century.

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3
Gem Gardener

We get that Grandma’s chunky jade and gold jewellery isn’t always the most appealing to wear going out. But you might just change your mind about these Straits Chinese pieces featured on Gem Gardener. The online store specialises in jade and intan (traditional rose-cut diamonds) Peranakan jewellery dating all the way back to the 1890s. Besides exquisite kerongsang brooches (traditional pins for blouses), there are also navette rings and floral-inspired bracelets that’ll feel right at home in elegant gala events. Gem Gardener preserves the styles of these pieces, though they do give a few updates — say adding coral briolettes to a pair of earrings — to brighten things up.

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4
Singapore Island Jewellery Store

While Gem Gardener deals with local jewellery, its sister brand is dedicated to Western vintage and revival pieces. In stores, you’ll be able to find a select number of Art Nouveau enamel works and Victorian ‘rococo’ bracelets with pearls. The team behind are also trained jewellers who create their own takes on vintage-style jewellery as well. Their portfolio includes revival pieces in which antique gold works, such as Roman artefacts, are recast into more modern styles.

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5
Revival Vintage Jewels & Objects

Revival is Singapore’s first vintage retailer and has a stunning array of vintage pieces from several high jewellery brands like Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier. The authenticity of such pieces are vouched for by owner Brenda Kang who has worked with Christie’s and other high profile jewellery collections and auctions. Revival offers a range of periods from the romantic pieces from the Belle Epoque era to chunkier, floral-inspired 1950s retro works.

501 Orchard Road, #04-05B, Wheelock Place, Singapore 238869. Tel: 6635 1735

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Jasmine Tay
Senior Writer
Jasmine Tay is the dining, culture and jewellery writer. She makes fine silver jewellery and causes mini-explosions in the kitchen when she can't afford fancy dinners. Sometimes she tells people what she thinks about art, and binges on the music of Danzig when they don’t agree.