How to spot a genuine antique

Antiques never go out of fashion, but how do you know you’re purchasing an authentic one? Here are six ways you can identify an authentic piece

Dubai Antiques
Antique pieces are timeless. Image credit│Dubai Antiques

As more antique shops and secondhand furniture dealers pop up, buying antiques in the UAE has become easier, but how do you For an item to be considered antique, it has to be at least 100 years old. Noor Pociute from Dubai Antiques shares her straight forward advice on securing the real deal  when shopping for antiques.

The material

Genuine European antiques are almost exclusively made of oak, mahogany, walnut, cherry, or maple. So be suspicious if the item is made of plywood or particleboard. Remember, MDF was not produced until 1980.

Check behind

100 years ago, it was considered a waste to use expensive wood for parts that wouldn’t be seen, so you’ll find that antique items have a cheaper wood at the back, with the high-quality material on show. 

Antique looking room
Authentic antiques give a room an instantly elegant feel. Image credit│Unsplash


Joints and screws were all hand-cut until the early 1900s, so you should expect to see rough, uneven hinges. Most of the time, the wider and less delicate the joint, the older the piece. You’ll almost never find two identical-looking screws in one item of furniture.


Many buyers complain that the item looks “used”. However, unless the item was forgotten somewhere for 100 years, if it’s the real-deal, it is going to show signs of wear. Look for pieces that are slightly misshapen, as over time wood shrinks along the grain.


A tell-tale sign of authenticity is when an item has been handmade. Run your hand along the surface to check how smooth it is, you can then determine whether it was sanded by hand or by a machine. If the item has been veneered (paneled), you should be looking at a much thicker veneer layer, as opposed to a thinner, machine-cut one. 


A fail-safe way to identify a piece as antique is its smell. There is a distinct odor that comes with age, and this is something that cannot be replicated, so you’ll be able tell pretty quickly if a piece is the real-deal.

Love shopping secondhand ? Check out our guide on where to shop pre-loved homeware (including antiques) in the UAE

%d bloggers like this: