The internet opens up all kinds of options for antiques collectors, especially when it comes to hard-to-find items you may not see in local shops. However, it's also easy to get scammed when you can't actually see and hold the item you're buying. The key to a rewarding shopping experience is working with reputable retailers who stand behind the items they sell.
A virtual antique mall offering everything from fine art to fashion, Ruby Lane has an ever-changing selection with something that will appeal to every collector. There are about 2,000 different shops, each specializing in specific collectibles like dolls, china, jewelry, and more. The shops are run as independent businesses, but they all comply with the Ruby Lane no-questions-asked return policy of three days from the time of delivery. If you find the item doesn't look like the description or doesn't appraise for the value you expected, you can return it without hassle as long as you move quickly. You can also shop with confidence knowing Ruby Lane as an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Buying an especially valuable antique online can be extra stressful, but high-end auction site 1st Dibs prides itself on carefully vetting sellers before allowing them to participate. The site stands behind the authenticity of every item offered for sale there. According to Forbes, the average item sold on the site is close to $3,000, but this is a good place to safely purchase valuable items because of the strict standards and focus on authenticity. You can find everything from antique furniture by noted designers to the most coveted jewelry and collectibles. This isn't the place to look for a great bargain, but it is an excellent site for buying those treasured items with confidence.
Specializing in designer furniture and housewares, Viyet has a great selection of antique items, including chairs, dressers, mirrors, lighting, and more. Items are sold on consignment, which means the site is able to vet each item and guarantee its authenticity. Specialists examine the pieces offered and research the background of each item. You have two days to return the piece if you find it doesn't meet your expectations. Architectural Digest reports that the selection at Viyet is fantastic, and the customer service on the site is even better.
Architectural Digest also recommends Chairish as a great place to reliably negotiate a good deal on items like art or antique furniture. Not everything offered on the site is antique; however, if you're looking for a specific designer or antique item, you may well find it among the more than 38,000 antique pieces offered. It's a great place to look for everything from china and figurines to rugs, furniture, and art. Because Chairish is made up of individual sellers, the site cannot guarantee authenticity of items. However, you do have 48 hours after delivery to return any item if you feel it is not authentic or doesn't look like what you expected.
MS Rau Antiques
New Orleans-based MS Rau Antiques offers a huge selection of art, jewelry, furniture, and more on their website. They also specialize in some unique collectibles like canes, medical antiques, and music boxes. In addition to these interesting items, MS Rau Antiques stands out for its incredible 125% guarantee. You can exchange any item in purchased condition for five years after purchase, receiving a credit for the full purchase price plus 5 percent per year. The exchange must happen in the store, but if you are not in New Orleans, you can negotiate shipping the item for inspection. MS Rau Antiques has a BBB rating of A+.
High-end auction giant Sotheby's specializes in authentication and fair valuation of art and antiques, and they have been in business since 1744. You can bid in online-only auctions for heirloom jewelry, antique furniture, and more. This isn't the place to look for inexpensive collectibles or great deals, but if you're after something specific and valuable, it's a good way to buy with confidence. The venerable auction house has a BBB rating of A+, as well as a reputation for reliable, safe transactions.
Look Beyond eBay and Craigslist
If you're looking for a great deal, eBay and Craigslist are good options, but they don't always offer the level of protection you may want for antique items. Take some time to shop carefully to avoid buying something that is damaged, a fake, or will appraise at a value lower than what you pay. When it comes to shopping for antiques, nothing beats doing your homework and using a source with a good return policy.