16 ways to tell vintage jewellery from new and antique jewelleryBy
How to tell vintage jewellery from new and antique jewellery
Recently I was asked how to tell a piece of vintage jewellery from a piece of new or antique jewellery. With so many modern copies of genuine vintage and antique jewellery around it is important to be able to tell the difference. Reproduction jewellery is fine if you want that and know you are buying it and paying the right price however many prefer the real deal – But how can you tell a real piece of Victorian Jewellery from a piece recently made in the far east?
The answer is not simple but using a combination of different factors, signs, guidelines, clues and hints it can be worked out. I have found at least 16 of these so far – each of these deserves a fuller explanation and needs more pictures than I can give in one blog post and so I will expand on each of them here on this antiques blog over the comming weeks. There is enough information to full a book or two.
These are in no particular order of importance. The importance will depend on this individual piece of vintage jewellery being looked at. For example – not all pieces of jewellery have a hinge and therefore that will not be important to most antique necklaces and vintage bracelets but looking at hinges is very important when determining the age of a vintage brooch.
Hinges can be found on most Brooches and Lockets. They can also be found on articulated charms . The way the hinge was made can help to accurately date a piece. Tube hinges were used up until the later Victorian era after which time a sleeker version was introduced.
2. Clasps and Catches
C catches, safety pin catches, trombone catches and roll over catches all help to date your jewellery. If you find a lobster catch your jewellery is almost certainly new.
Please see my recent mini series on using hallmarks to date your vintage and antique jewels
4. Registration Marks
Finding a registration mark or registration lozenge is exciting on a piece of jewellery as it helps us to date the piece almost as accurately as hallmarking.
5. Makers Marks and Labels
Excellent to find either of these on a piece as the maker and the shape and style of the makers mark will help with dating and valuing a piece of vintage jewellery
Art deco, art nouveau Victorian or modernist style all help with dating. Whilst pieces can be reproduces over the years the style will certainly tell us the earliest your antique brooch or vintage ring could have been made.
Real? Costume Jewellery ? Precious or semi precious stones? What cut is the stone? All of these can place a piece into its original time
Different colours were in vogue in different eras. Think of the primary colours of the art deco era – bold orange reds greens and black and white. Each era tends to prefer a specific pallet.
9. Method of manufacture
Are stones prong set of glued in. Is the piece hand made or out of a mould? Is that real enamel on that vintage brooch or is it resin?
10. Weight / Heft
Sometimes it helps to weigh the piece in your hand. A Victorian brooch may well be heavier than its Edwardian counterpart and, all other things being equal, it normally is.
Pot Metal, aluminium, platinum , copper all have been popular jewellery making materials at different times throughout the 20th century.
Introduces in the Victorian era, plastics have been popular in making costume jewellery ever since. The type and colour of the plastic is a very good indicator of its age of manufacture. Is it Bakelite, Lucite or celluloid? if so you could well have a genuine vintage piece
13. Other Materials
Jewellery is made of such a wide range of materials but many have their own time in history: Jet tends to say Victorian, Butterfly wing says art deco, Copper says 195o’s to 1970s.ould you expect to find a new piece of jewellery made from a real beetle?
14. Other Findings
T Bars, Hooks, bails, loops – all were made differently and used in different ways
15. What is the piece of Jewellery?
Brooches have always been popular but other pieces come and go. Think Chatelaines, Watch chains, Lavalieres, Charm Bracelets or very long dangly earrings
To round off this series I will then take a look at what reference books and websites will help you to date your pieces for yourself. Happy Hunting.