Trying to make the distinction between vintage and antique is not generally easy unless you are an expert when it comes down to collectibles, such as fine art or jewelry. Some experts say an antique has to be a minimum of 100 years old, while vintage items can be from any decade or era. For instance, a 100-year-old sofa could be classed as an antique; however, an Art Deco one from the 1930s is said to be vintage. Even if the latter has been around for 100 years, it will still be classed as vintage because of its design.
There is one difference between antique and vintage, which is the perceived relevance of an item. A wagon from the 1880s is considered to be an antique, due to the fact it exists as a relic of bygone eras. However, a restored Chevrolet is more likely to be described as vintage, due to the fact it is from a specific era and still has several collectors even today. Some collectors even say vintage items are classics; this is another honorable distinction.
Sometimes sellers use the above terms interchangeably; however, this does cause some confusion for buyers. The 100-year rule on an antique is not always true, and the term vintage can be used on any item, which is past a specific age, whether it is thought to be valuable or not. A vintage piece of jewelry from the 1960s is not classed the same as one from the 1980s, even though some old jewelry dealer experts describe both as being vintage.
Others use the phrases retro or classic – this is used to describe reproductions which are created to resemble vintage pieces. Basically, the difference between vintage and antique is one of age; antique furniture and jewelry that is over 100 years old are handled by antique’s dealers, while vintage items will be bought and sold by private collectors.