How do I Choose the Best Vintage Enamel?

Tara Barnett

There are a wide variety of objects that could be called vintage enamel, but there are some basic guidelines to think about when choosing any vintage enamel item. Be it jewelry, dishes, or any other kind of enamel item, it is important to think about whether one wants to use the item, whether it is damaged, and what its actual value is. If one collects a particular kind of vintage enamel item, such as vintage pins, then one can become deeply familiar with what is desirable in those items by reading and studying literature about them. Typically, these items are not particularly problematic in terms of quality, so choosing the best vintage enamel is usually a matter of simply choosing items one enjoys.

Woman posing
Woman posing

If one is hoping to use a piece of vintage enamel cookware or even dishes, it is a good idea to make sure that using the item will not damage it and that it is still in a condition that is safe to use. Scratches and cracks can make these items unsafe to use. It is also possible that one will damage a vintage item by using it, so it is not a good idea to use particularly valuable items.

Choosing the best vintage enamel jewelry is very easy, because jewelry is personal and so what one enjoys looking at will always be the best. Some people find that collecting a set of similar items is highly satisfying, so choosing only enamel flower jewelry or only enamel pins might be a good idea. Within these categories, it is fairly easy to gain expertise and learn to decide which items are valuable and which are common. While many people value vintage enamel on how rare it is or how much it is worth, it is also acceptable to simply collect pieces that one finds aesthetically pleasing even if they are not rare.

Things to look out for when purchasing vintage enamel include cracking, poor workmanship, and reproductions. Enamel can crack, or it can simply be made poorly, which will be obvious to the experienced eye. Reproductions can be harder to spot, and it may take a professional to identify a fake. With small items or those that individually have little value, it is rare to find a faked item. The true problem is that styles of vintage items such as dishes are returned frequently, and it can be difficult to tell apart a dish bought in a department store from one that is a true vintage.

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