Industry Standard Definition of Terms

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.”
Socrates (470 – 399 B.C.)


Definition of Industry Standard Terms/Glossary



According to US law, and most accurately, throughout the antiques industry, the term refers to objects created 100+years ago. Used to describe the age of an item, rather than it’s appearance, style, or condition. Items from eras nearing, but not quite 100 years, like those created during the Art Deco Era (1925-1939) are more accurately referred to as “vintage,” or  “near-antique.” An approximation of age, where date is likely, but unknown with absolute certainty, is expressed by using the term “circa,” see below.

“If an item is not definitively date-able to 100 or more years in age, it should not be directly referred to as an antique.” RubyLane 

  • “The value of an antique depends upon its authenticity, beauty, age, rarity and condition.” years old or more.


  • Automobiles:
  • The Antique Automobile Club of America defines an antique car as over 25 years of age.
  • Aircraft:
  • An Antique aircraft is defined as constructed by the original manufacturer (or licensee) on or prior to August 31, 1945.

NOTE: Prices should be commensurate to age, originality, and then condition. A modern reproduction (even if it is 20yrs old, and in great condition) will not hold anywhere near the value of an antique piece, even if that antique is, itself, the reproduction of an even earlier piece.   and

Antiquated, as in technology:

No longer produced or used; out of date. May or may not appear “old-fashioned,” depending upon when and how it was manufactured. Technology that is antiquated, but not necessarily “antique” or 100+years old“….”not usable in current technology environments. In other words, it is obsolete… “Antique software” is different from “legacy software” in that it is completely outdated and has been phased out, whereas “legacy software” is still in use but lacks the modern/current features of newer systems.”

As is:

NOTE: Better eCommerce practices indicate that stating “As Is,” yet disclosing damage, engenders increased trust, and better reviews, repeat customers, and thus, higher sales.



The process in which a piece is examined and tested to determine the amount of precious metal contained. This examination is conducted at a legally appointed assayer’s office to insure compliance with legal standards and the piece is officially stamped or hallmarked upon completion.

  • “Testing” metals: The process of using varied scientific methods to assess the purity and values of fine/noble metals.



Item is verifiably identified as by a specific maker. 

  • If it cannot be reliably identified, then a specific maker’s name should not be used anywhere as if it is a certainty. If no specific identification is included in the title or category, it is reasonable to state, “Maker unknown, Bertoia style,” a possible maker, or pattern, within the item description.
  • eCommerce best practices: The title or category field for the item should match the description. If there is any doubt to the maker, it should be clearly indicated, from the title forward.


  • Title:  “For Sale, Bertoia Chair”
  • Description: “Don’t know who the maker it, but it sure looks like it might be” (or a similar admission).

Base Metals:

Base metals are common, less expensive metals. They are sometimes mixed with (alloyed) or thinly coated on(plated) fine metals to alter durability, color and strength. Base metals include (but not limited to) copper, zinc, nickel, and aluminum, steel, tungsten, bronze, iron, titanium, etc.



A Latin word meaning “about” or “around.” It is used in reference to dates when the exact age of something cannot be known but can be approximated. It is often abbreviated as “c.” or “ca.”

  • 1732–1799 or 1732–99: both years are known precisely.
  • c. 1732 – 1799: only the end year is known accurately; the start year is approximate.
  • 1732 – c. 1799: only the start year is known accurately; the end year is approximate.
  • c. 1732 – c. 1799: both years are approximate.


Classic/The Classics:

Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.  A work of art (including the Decorative Arts, Literature, Music) of recognized and established value.

The “Classics” (In Interior Design & Decor, and Fashion):

  • Those pieces that meet the above criteria, have been found to work well in within many styles, and that have repeatedly outlasted changing trends. Usually guaged over 50+ years. They are the source material for continual reinterpretation, reinvention, and reproduction. Examples include: Mies Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona seating, Chanel’s Little Black Dress, The Eames Lounge Chair, Saarinen’s Tulip tables, to name just a few


A noun. Not necessarily an age term. “Items range from extremely valuable objects that are almost as old as antiques, to simple things that may hold only nominal value to the person who gathered them into a collection…Items made from the Art Deco period forward are considered to be collectibles. A few examples of older collectibles include Depression glass, 1930s shoes, and Gone with the Wind memorabilia.”

Newer collectibles include a huge range of genres from vintage branded merchandise, like Coca-Cola memorabilia, Coach handbags,  early Star Wars merchandise, Dr. Who paraphernalia, to brand new, contemporary Funko Pops figures.

Limited Edition Collectibles:

  • “Limited edition collectibles are (often reissued, or) newly marketed items, made in limited quantities.


An adjective, which describes whether the item is ‘able to be collected.’ For example, it is unlikely that molecules will ever become easily “collectable” enough to become “collectibles.”

Costume Jewelry:

Jewelry made from less costly materials such as plastics, wood, and less expensive base metals, including aluminum, Alpaca silver, copper, pig metal The stones used in this type of fashionable jewelry are usually pastes, cubic zirconias, lower quality semi-precious gems, and other replacement stones.


To cull, sift, refine, edit, to select purposefully, manage a collection, an inventory.“To pull together, sift through, and select for presentation, as music or website content…”eCommerce increasingly uses this term to mean a“personalized shopping experience.”

What we mean when we say “curating” on the internet is more like being a really top-notch editor. That is, someone who is good at picking things out of the endless internet ether and organizing them into something else…”

Era/Period/Stylistic Era:  

For example: the Victorian Era, Renaissance Era, Gothic Revival Period.  Styling indicative of a certain time period such as Victorian, Art Deco, the Arts & Crafts movement or Mid-Century Modern, also referred to as Eames-era design.

Revival Eras: (as in Gothic Revival, or Renaissance Revival)

  • Renaissance Revival (sometimes referred to as “Neo-Renaissance“) Stylistic subsets within larger Stylistic Eras, from the late 1700s through the larger Victorian Era.A movement or style in architecture and the decorative arts in the 19th and early 20th centuries, “inspired by the designs of Renaissance Europe and characterized by ornate decoration featuring an eclectic combination of motifs; frequently attributive.”

NOTE: Other outstanding timelines and resources on Eras


All the property, real or personal, owned by a person. May or may not include property and items, bought or inherited, from a bankruptcy or deceased person’s assets.

 Estate Jewelry:

Previously owned “jewelry, usually of good quality*, bought and sold from an estate. Some use the term to refer to any jewelry bought secondhand.

NOTE:  Estate jewelry can consist of costume and fine, whole and incomplete, hand-crafted and machine made, famous maker and anonymous.  It spans the lot. But the term “Estate Jewelry” is widely understood to mean it has been culled for the better costume and fine pieces.


“An object made or sold with the intent of misleading or deceiving the buyer into believing the object is authentic.”


Is proportion, expressed in parts per thousand, of the purity of the pre,cious metal used. Fine (precious, noble) metals include gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium and silver. Gold, fineness, or purity, measured in karats which is 1000 parts pure gold/parts alloy:

  • 375: 37.5% gold, or 9K. In the US, the minimum standard for gold is 10K. Many other countries allow this to be marketed as gold and it’s been used from jewelry to dental purposes.
  • 417: 41.7% gold, or 10K gold. Very commonly used in jewelry in the US and very strong. Great for jewelry for those who work industrious jobs who need something that will hold up.
  • 585: 58.5% gold, or 14K gold. Good, strong gold but with a bit more gold than 10K.
  • 750: 75.0% gold, or 18K gold. Much more pure than 14K, still has good strength with a wonderful balance in purity.
  • 916: 91.6% gold, or 22K gold. This is probably the softest and most pure gold that you would want to have for a piece of jewelry.
  • 999: 99.9% gold, or 24K gold. This is the purest that you can buy, and although purity can be up to six nines fine, or 999.999, it’s highly rare to find it so pure. Such fineness in gold was last refined in the 1950’s by The Perth Mint in Australia.

Fine Jewelry:

Jewelry created with at least 6%  fine/noble metals. Gemstones may be precious or semiprecious, artifacts, lab treated/created or natural.


Similar to “classic,” iconic is generally restricted to more recent, highly original, influential, or unique, works of art, artists, or performers. As such they are now well-established and widely celebrated in popular culture.Example:”Oedipus Rex” is a classic, but the original “Planet of the Apes” is truly iconic.

KeyWord Spam/Keyword Stuffing:

Title, Category, or Description wording that contains words or wording unrelated to the particular, individual item for sale, in order to catch shopper attention, or raise SEO ratings. Considered a poor business practice.


  • “This item looks like Fiesta, but it’s really Harlequin.” (Fiesta is keyword spam)
  • “This item isn’t Fiesta or Harlequin” (both Fiesta and Harlequin are keyword spam)
  • “I also sell Majolica, Franciscan, Fire King,…” (all of these keywords are spam and not related to the item)
  • Category “Glassware: Bowls: Plates: Cups” (an item can’t be a bowl, a plate, and a cup).”  Ruby Lane.

NOTE: Avoiding keyword spam in titles and categories is especially important because search engines use these two fields to show the most relevant items first.

“Modern” vs “Contemporary,” Stylistic Era):

  • Modern, or Modernist:  Refers to a set, defined design style that was created during the Modernist Movement, between the 1920′s – 1950′s. It doesn’t change, it is a defined style.  The Contemporary Style became popular in the 1970s and was originally a blend of styles before it became recognizable on its own. Contemporary design did borrow a few elements from Modernism and Postmodernism, but it also gathered ideas from many other styles such as Art Deco, Deconstructivism, Futurism and more.
  • Modern, Contemporary (used as general adjectives):  Something current, or recently designed, and usually still obtainable on the market.


Condition term. The signs of wear will vary from genre to genre, however, these terms, while (used here, for clothing/textiles) are generally applicable to all:

 New, In the Box

  • In the original packing, with original inserts, and paperwork. May or may not have been opened, which should be disclosed, if discernible. Box may or may not have damage, which should be disclosed.

New, Without tags: (from eBay)

  • This item will be in New Condition — Hasn’t been worn except for trying it on.  If I’m uncertain about an item, what I look for is still having that starchy feel that clothes have.  If it has buttons, that the button holes are still tight, and that all the seams are crisp and straight.  This is considered Brand New.

Like New:

  • This item is also in New Condition, may have been laundered. ..err on the side of caution if uncertain about a piece.  If I can’t tell for sure that a piece hasn’t been worn, I’ll call it Like New.  Also, Like New can mean that it has been worn, but there are no signs of wear.  Signs of wear include any roughness in the fabric in typical wear areas like underarms or inseam.  The tags will all be bright and new looking as will buttons and the seams will be tight.

Very Gently Used:

  • When I label an item Very Gently Used, it means I can tell that it has been worn, but just barely. For me, there generally isn’t much difference between Very Gently Used and Like New.  With a Very Gently Used piece, I can tell it has been worn — the snaps will snap more easily than a New piece and the seams will show that they have been laundered.  The piece will still be in Excellent Condition.

Gently Used:

  • A Gently Used item will show some wear like, some slight fading if it is denim, the seams inside will no longer be flat because of being washed.  The buttons will button more easily as will the snaps.  However, the item will still be in Excellent condition.

 New Old Stock/New Old Inventory:

 Leftover, unsold, obsolete inventory, that was manufactured long ago but never used.

  • Obsolete equipment, or original parts (components) for obsolete equipment, that have never been sold at retail.[1] “The term refers to merchandise being offered for sale which was manufactured long ago but that has never been used. Such merchandise may not be produced anymore, and the new old stock may represent the only current market source of a particular item.
  • Although not an officially recognized accounting term, it is in common use in the auction and retail industries. For example, owners of antique vehicles seek NOS parts from specialized vendors that are needed to keep their automobiles, motorcycles, or trucks operational or in factory-original condition. Classic and vintage bicycle enthusiasts put a premium on NOS parts.
  • Another example is a business catering to vacuum tube enthusiasts that defines NOS as “mainly a retailer’s term for any stocked item which is either A: out of production; B: discontinued from the current line of product; C: has been sitting on a stockroom or warehouse shelf for some time; or D: any combination of the above. The only constant here is that the product is unused.”[2]
  • While damage to the original packaging is common, damage to its contents is generally not preferred in determining if an item is NOS; however, many items have been on shelves or in storage and over time may have developed some damage. This minor damage from shelf life does not detract from an item being identified as NOS.[citation needed]
  • Other people refer to new original stock, meaning that they are original equipment parts that remained in inventory for a use that never came. Automobile dealers and parts companies often sell such slow-moving stock at a discount. Other specialty parts vendors then market these NOS parts that may either decline or increase in value depending on their type and desirability.”[3]


Contemporary leftover, unsold inventory.

 Old Inventory:

Leftover, unsold inventory, that is less than 25 years old.


Made in the era when a given design was initially popular and new.


Plating usually involves coating an inexpensive or base metal with a noble metal. This can be done by the process of electroplating – covering metal articles with a film of another metal or by bonding a sheet of metal to a base metal as with rolled gold plate.


A term that refers to an object’s path through time, its “life experience,” including who owned it, when, where and for how long-all of which, if known and verified, often adds significant value to an antique or collectible.”


Retro Era:

  • Generally, a style, evolving at the end of the Art Deco era, and surrounding WWII, which accommodated the culture and material restrictions of that day.

Retro Art:

  • A genre of pop art which was developed in the 1940s and 1950s, in response to a need for bold, eye-catching graphics that were easy to reproduce on simple presses available at the time in major centers.

Retro Jewelry:

  • ”Although the term “Retro” wasn’t coined until the 1970s, the jewelry of the late 1930s and 1940s was definitely different from its antecedents. Retro jewelry is a jewelry style created between approximately 1935 and 1945 (although they were created up to 1950). The name “retro” was given to this style by François Curiel, the head of the jewelry department for Christie’s Auction House in New York in the early 1970’s.”

Retro Style:

  • The important word here is “style.” Not necessarily old, but referencing style of the Retro or near Retro Era.Sometimes they trade on the secondary market fairly quickly, and can even rise in value rapidly after they are issued. In the long run, however, limited edition collectibles don’t generally demand the same high prices as time goes by.”


Verb. Using fake or paid reviews to promote an item, service, or entity. Considered very poor business practice.

Sterling silver:

 925/1000 parts silver and 75/1000 parts copper. May be plated with rhodium to maintain a high shine/prevent tarnishing but the rhodium will wear off with use.


A distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed. The use of the word “style”  indicates the item was not made during the original period, but features stylistic elements or motifs made popular during a particular period in history. Without the use of the word “style,” to describe an item by a particular era, is to infer that it was created during that period, or during a historical revival of that period.

In The Style of… (as in Renaissance style, Gothic style)

  • A term indicating that an object was made in the fashion of a certain style or period, but not actually during that  Period.  For example, a piece of modern jewelry, made with Gothic stylistic elements, but not actually from the Gothic Era/Period.


  • A print is said to be made “after” an artist if the printmaker copied the image from a drawing or painting by that artist.


To upcycle something is to recycle it while elevating it above its original quality, status, or purpose.When upcycled is used as an adjective, it can refer to the new or original object. For example, an upcycled table can mean you turned a table into something else or that you turned something else into a table.


Vermeil/Silver Gilt:

Sterling silver, plated with gold.



An age term. Not a condition term. Generally, understood to be a bare minimum of 20 years old and up to 99 years old.  This term is in flux, as time passes, but the general understanding is that it refers to a time when the average middle age buyer was a teenager. 

  • “An item described as ‘vintage’ should speak of the era in which it was produced. Vintage can mean an item is of a certain period of time, as in “vintage 1950’s” but it can also mean (and probably always should) that the item exhibits the best of a certain quality, or qualities, associated with or belonging to that specific era. In other words, for the term vintage to accurately apply to it, an item should be somewhat representational and recognizable as belonging to the era in which it was made.” Ruby Lane also suggests that ‘vintage’ should not be used in reference to objects less than 20 years old.” Ruby Lane.
  • Etsy: 20 years and older

 To read more on the use of A & V industry standard terms/glossary, click here!


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