This article will offer some tips on how to analyze and date antique jewelry. Zoe, CC-BY Jewelry mirrors time, culture, and societal values. It reflects the taste and attitude of every period in history. Luckily, there are definitely clues that can be used in deciphering how old your jewelry is.
This usually begins with looking at things like clasps and hinges, since certain types are known to have been used during specific periods in time.
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In addition to examining the components and findings, you'll want to look at the overall style, examine for signs of repair, and use a jeweler's loupe to locate any identifying marks present as you're dating jewelry. Use the basics below to help you start learning how to identify and date a number of different types of antique and vintage brooch and pin styles.
This is a type of pin used to secure a sash at a lady's hip during the late s when the fad of wearing a sash over the shoulder and across bosom imitating Queen Victoria or around the waist became popular. Most examples have very thick pin stems to allow for penetrating several layers of fabric.
Sep 20, The lobster claw clasp in use today is a fairly new design from the late s, as is the toggle clasp. The spring ring clasp, introduced in the early 20th century, is the most common vintage bracelet clasp. It has a spring inside the ring that allows it to open and snap closed. Nov 11, The T Bar clasp is known as one of the earliest styles of clasps for old mcauctionservicellc.com T Bar clasps were generally used throughout the Victorian Era. The pin extended just slightly over the edge and had no holding or locking mechanism. C Clasps popular with Victorian Era Brooches C clasps were also very popular throughout the Victorian era. Oct 24, I have found that the trickiest thing about dating a brooch is not necessarily the kind of clasp, but an altered back. Look for any suspicious solder. Pools of solder would only be on a piece that has been altered or repaired. Another thing to look for are oval or round metal pads where the pin has been attached to the back of the brooch.
Many, but not all, resemble buckles from the front like the example shown here. Common examples are made of brass, enameled or painted base metal, or silver-plated base metal. This type of simple "C" clasp or catch can be found on brooches dating primarily to the s although some carryover designs in the early s incorporate this finding as well.
May 28, The clasps, hinges and other findings used for brooches can assist date them. The first type of brooch was the fibula which had a straight pin which was threaded through the garment and then caught up behind a part of the brooch.
It was used on everything ranging from small Victorian bar pins to large sash pins see above. The most common early version of the "C" clasp used prior to the s looks more like a curled wire. Pieces incorporating the earlier style also have a tube-shaped hinge for the pin stem, and sometimes the point of the pin stem will extend beyond the edge of the brooch. Some pieces of inexpensive jewelry made during the s and through the decades since then have used a variation of the "C" clasp that is more square looking than rounded.
Be sure to look at the overall style and materials when dating pieces using "C" catches. A collar pin is a metal fastener that connects the two sides of a shirt collar by passing underneath the tie. It can take the form of a large safety pin, or be shaped like a bar, either with clasps on either end or two spheres or cubes on either end, that unscrew and pass-through holes in the collar similar to a bar cufflink.
This type of pin was developed in the early s as a means of holding the ends of the newly fashionable turn-down collar in place and could be simple or adorned with jewels.
They grew increasingly ornamental as opposed to functional as the 20th century wore on.
Brooch clasp dating
They were primarily used by men, though when first introduced, women used them as well when wearing collared blouses. It was worn similarly to a brooch, but with a clip mechanism instead of a pin stem to attach it to clothing. The underside of the clip usually contains prongs to hold it securely in place. Dress clips were made of popular materials of the day including Bakelite like the example shown here and pot metal. Larger versions were sold singly.
Smaller examples were often sold in pairs or sometimes as part of a "duette" see below. The more petite clip duos were worn in various ways including at the bottom corners of square necklines. They can sometimes be confused with shoe clips.
The first branded Duettes were designed and manufactured by Coro in in Art Deco styles. These clever mechanisms held two small dress clips in place to make a brooch or could be removed to wear clipped on to a garment either singly or in pairs.
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Coro also made Duettes with small double-pronged clips especially during the s, but there was some carryover into the s as with the Coro angel birthstone pieces like the one shown here.
Collectors have adopted the generic name "duette" when referencing this type of convertible jewelry. Fur clip is the collector's nickname for what manufacturers referred to as a pin clip when they were newly made. These hand made efforts are the first so called "safety catches".
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They are not called 'safety because they prevented being poked with the pin. Oh no.
Dec 31, Sometime around the turn of the 20th century, the locking C clasp was invented. These clasps have a spinning locking mechanism that hold the brooch securely in place. Early locking C clasps opened downwards, and more modern ones open upwards. The . Antique and vintage brooches are commonly dated by the style of catch or by the design. The catch isn't foolproof for dating, but it is indicative of the era the brooch was made. Dating the Hinge and Catch Check the hinge on the brooch. Mar 24, The tongue clasp developed into push-in box clasp with a wedge-shaped spring-part fitting into the box (see clasp at he beginning of the post). The box clasps were handmade which allowed for quite beautiful ones to be used, often set with gemstones, enamel or inlay work, and sometimes with compartments for woven hair.
They provided safety against loosing your brooch! Saving blood, although noble, was a secondary consideration to protecting a valuable piece of jewelry. Early safety catches, like tube hinges, are hand made. Generally, the same person who made the brooch also made the early safety catches.
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Because they are hand made, the early safety catches show lots of variation. Some are simple like the lever safety in Fig.
It is machine made with a rotating jaw that locks the pin in the catch Fig. It is usually mounted in a preassembled unit, such as a bar, with a round hinge Fig.
Modern safety catches are also available separately on pads for repair work Fig. Modern safety catches are just another commodity that the jeweler or manufacturer buys ready-made to save labor.
PINS - Generally, the greater the diameter and heavier the material, the older the pin. Heavy pins were acceptable in the loosely woven natural fabrics of the 19th century. The finer weaves and increasing use of synthetic fabrics in the 20th century required pins that were progressively thinner and lighter weight.
Another clue to age provided by pins is how far they extend beyond the catch. Many pins of this period may also extend that same distance beyond the edge of the brooch itself Fig.
Keep in mind that non-original fasteners like modern safety catches may have been added to genuinely old brooches as legitimate repairs. Or it could be a sign of a badly damaged or "made up" piece. Be sure to base your evaluation on a thorough inspection of the entire piece.
Guide to the Eras of Antique Jewelry
Never use one single test. When evaluating karat content, avoid using the karat marks that may appear on fasteners.
These small parts are easily replaced with ones of false or higher karat markings. Likewise, when you conduct a test for karat content, don't apply your testing solutions to fasteners. Apply your testing solutions to the bezel or main frame of the brooch.
Side view shown of typical arrangement. Modern catches used since around are mass produced by machine. Tubes attached to pad for easy soldering to brooch.
Note separate tube soldered to pin. Typical machine made assembly of pin, hinge and catch saved labor attaching to brooch. Round hinges like this on pads were made primarily as repair parts since Modern safety catch on opposite end.
This type of simple "C" clasp or catch can be found on brooches dating primarily to the s although some carryover designs in the early s incorporate this finding as well. It was used on everything ranging from small Victorian bar pins to large sash pins (see above). Dec 08, Another category of Florenza jewelry for dating research is the selection of large charm bracelets produced by the company, such as the two pictured here (click on images for larger view): Referencing The Napier Co. by Melinda Lewis, "chunky" charm bracelets of similar design were very popular in the s (see pages -). Dating Brooch Fasteners - to By Mark Chervenka One of the best ways to avoid reproductions and fakes is to know and understand how originals are made. Reproductions are rarely made the same as originals due to changes in materials, labor costs and modern production techniques.
Original tube hinge at opposite end not shown. Original catalog illustration dated Confirm Close.
Dating Brooch Fasteners - to One of the best ways to avoid reproductions and fakes is to know and understand how originals are made.