identifying antique jewellery

What to look for when identifying Antique Jewellery

My absolute favourite part of the job is searching for unique and rare antique jewellery. I love the thrill of hunting for antique jewellery and taking it back to the office to research further about the piece. I enjoy the adventure of learning new things every day and never knowing what you might find.

Here is a checklist of what to look out for when looking at vintage & antique jewellery

Are there any markings or maker stamps on the piece? Is it signed? Are there any stamps to give away its origin?

By looking at the back of a piece you will be able to see if the piece is made of a valuable metal. If you are unsure of the metal, you can always take it to your jewellers for testing or invest in a metal testing kit.

Gold hallmarks to look out for include 18ct, 14ct, 9ct, 10ct, 750, 585, 375.

Common platinum hallmarks include 950, PLATINUM, PLAT.

Silver hallmarks to look out for include 925, Silver, 800, Sterling. There are lots of different hallmarks, if your jewellery has a hallmark, it is usually a good sign!

Check and feel the weight of the piece. More valuable metals are heavier in weight.

Look at the style of the piece, does the style of the piece give you any further indication of what era it was produced or who manufactured it?

Is the design of the piece unusual? If the piece is unique, it could be a one-off piece made by a particular artist or craftsman who did not work for a big company. This could make the piece worth a higher premium.

Clues to age and quality of an item of antique jewellery can be found by inspecting the clasp, catch or any hinges on the item. Good quality antique brooches often come with a safety chain. Older antique brooches typically have a C clasp closure. If an item of jewellery is unmarked the next best indicator to it’s age is by inspecting the catch, clasp or pin at the back.

High quality and more valuable costume jewellery will have its stones set in a prong setting rather than just being glued into place.

A good indication of whether a gemstone is natural or not is to feel if the stone is cold to touch

When it comes to identifying jewellery knowledge and experience is invaluable and this comes with time. If you are uncertain about a piece, you can take it to a trusted local jeweller for their opinion. Great places to find vintage and antique jewellery is auctions, flea markets, antique fairs, second-hand shops and estate sales.

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