Designers / Fashion / Retail

Small Jewelry Brands Are Getting In on the Vintage Jewelry Craze


When Los Angeles–based jewelry designer Ariel Gordon debuted Heritage, a collection of more than 175 vintage and estate pieces she’d collected and sourced by hand in late 2019, the idea of an independent fine jewelry brand dealing vintage on the side felt fresh—and was clearly a savvy play to capture a sliver of the suddenly booming vintage market.

Two years later, the opportunity for brand founders to cash in on the popularity of estate and vintage jewelry still exists; retail analytics firm Market Research Intellect found in a 2020 study that the global vintage ring market “is growing at a faster pace with substantial growth rates over the last few years,” and is estimated to grow “significantly” between 2020 and 2027.

And several small brands have followed Gordon’s lead. Jewelry designer Ashley Zhang sells a pretty collection of vintage jewelry pieces—primarily engagement and cocktail rings, heavy on diamonds and opals—alongside her namesake collection on her website. Current prices for vintage pieces range from just under $1,000 for simple bands to close to $20,000 for a platinum Edwardian-era ring with a 2.01 ct. diamond center stone.

Los Angeles–based fine jewelry brand Kinn, founded by Jennie Yoon, takes the concept a step further. The brand began selling vintage jewelry online this year, alongside Yoon’s own (new) collections, and also consigns vintage and estate jewelers from a collection culled from its clientele.

Last week Kinn dropped its Vintage 6.0 collection of curated retro pieces, which included art deco–era and sapphire-studded jewels (most of the styles retail for under $1,000).

“Through Kinn Vintage, the brand aims to support a circular economy where invited guests are able to consign with Kinn to sell vintage, pre-loved jewelry and consumers may shop previously owned pieces,” the brand said in a recent prepared statement. Yoon’s pre-owned looks skew young in price and style; there are trendy dome rings and classic 14k yellow gold hoops ($860).

Building out a collection of vintage and estate pieces is a (relatively) fast and easy way for a small brand to diversify its offerings. But does doing so affect the consumer’s perception of that brand in any way?

It’s an important question, and one I don’t have an answer for (if you do, please write me a comment below!). But my sense is that it’s important to wall off pre-owned merchandise into its own separate collection, as Ariel Gordon has done with her Heritage line. Keeping the two sides separated—by name, landing page, branding, etc.—seems like an ideal way to protect the core brand from any potential dilution.

Top: Past vintage and estate pieces from Ariel Gordon’s Heritage collection (photo courtesy of Ariel Gordon)

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By: Emili Vesilind

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