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What does Retro mean? 

We’ve already established that Antique jewellery has to be over 100 years old to be truly considered an antique for evaluation purposes- but where do the terms vintage and retro come into play? It is quite tricky for the average or inexpert buyer to understand or properly identify these questions. Why? This is because as time inexorably marches on, the dates and allocations of retro, vintage and antique shift. So in 50 years time what was once retro will now be an antique piece. But currently, there is an a fairly standard definition of what constitutes Retro.



Sapphire and Diamond Retro Ring



Think Big

Think big, is the key here! Harking back to the period of 1945-60. Big Hollywood style, and exaggerated, bold pieces. Does it twinkle? Does it jangle? Does it sparkle? Then it’s quite likely that it is a retro piece. Bangles, thick chain bracelets, cocktail rings, ostentatious watches and gaudy charms are a classic example of this era. The bigger, the better may as well have been their motto!

Visually, think of the iconic “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” musical scene with Marilyn Monroe from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the 1953 musical comedy. It’s a classic song, scene and dance- with Marilyn in her hot pink dress, purring her way through some incredible lines like:

“Men grow cold

As girls grow old,

And we all lose our charms in the end.

But square-cut or pear-shaped,

These rocks don't lose their shape.

Diamonds are a girl's best friend.”


We can’t disagree with that statement! However, it’s those kinds of big, sparkly pieces that make the allure of a retro piece so attractive. Although they were often mass produced and cheaply made, there are some truly spectacular pieces from this era that are made on a grand scale of quality, design and desirability.

At Gerard McCabe Jewellers, Adelaide's diamond specialists, we have an amazing and carefully curated selection of antique, vintage and retro jewellery. Gerard himself personally inspects each piece and runs an appraisal on it, to ensure that you are getting the real deal. Gerard has a real passion for antique jewellery and has cultivated a keen eye, meaning that you can find some of the best antique jewellery in Australia in our Adelaide boutique and online store.

The rich history of an antique piece is half the allure of buying it. When referring to history we mean not only its story, but also its age and the culture of the era in which it was created. Antique jewellery pieces are highly desirable items made so by nostalgia and memory. Yet so many people are confused as to the true characterisation of antique jewellery. 

There are several definitions that people can become confused by. We hear the word vintage and confuse it with antique. Or retro versus contemporary and think we are buying a legitimate antique jewellery piece.  

We have a wide range of highly desirable antique and period pieces personally picked by Gerard. Discover more about our Antique and Period pieces in our collection here. 

Book An Appointment With Our Antiques Consultant

Gerard McCabe Jewellers are diamond experts, based in Adelaide. We specialise in engagement ring jewellery design. Including diamond rings, cluster engagement rings and classic engagement rings.

Pop into one of our jewellery stores in Adelaide Arcade or Rundle Mall for a personal consultation.