Separating the genuine from the not so genuine is a very tricky business when it comes to antique jewelry and the truth is that only a certified gemologist can truly identify an authentic piece, and even the best jewellers can only offer their expert opinion.
However, there are a couple of signs which you should be on the lookout for which might be an indicator to a fake piece.
The first thing that you should always bear in mind is that its usually the more valuable pieces that will be faked, as these are the ones that the fraudsters can make the most money on!
If the price of a piece seems too good to be true, then it probably is, and alarm bells should be ringing.
The gemstone is the most commonly forged aspect of an antique jewelry piece, and diamonds in particular.
There are a couple of small tests you can carry out on a diamond yourself. For example, can you see through it clearly? If so, it isnt properly reflecting the light that passes through it and is likely a fake.
Similarly, gemstones are usually forged in extremely high heat and are very effective heat conductors.
If you breathe on a diamond, much like you would on glasses, if the mist doesnt clear almost instantly, then it could be a fake.
Does the stone match the setting?
Most fakes are diamonds or the other highly sought after precious gems such as sapphires.
As such, it would be very strange to see such a precious stone with a setting which doesnt match the value of the stone.
So for example, if you see a beautiful diamond set within a plated metal ring, or basically any metal that isnt gold, silver, rhodium or platinum, then theres a chance the stone itself might not be a diamond.
Generally speaking, if the quality of the piece isnt consistent in all of its components, then it might be a fake stone.
This infographic from Scottsdale Bullion & Coin will help you to figure out if your gold is genuine or not.
Stones which have been re-set
While both the stone itself and the setting may be genuine, theres a growing trend among counterfeiters to remove a stone and set it in another casting.
This is because they can remove a stone from its gold casting which can be melted down for profit and re-sold in a platinum casting (which while genuine, loses almost all of its value once its original stone is removed).
This means that a stone is being forced into a setting which it wasnt designed for, so while both the stone and setting will be genuine, unfortunately sooner or later the stone will drop out of the setting, meaning youll have to have it reset which can wind up being more expensive than purchasing a new one altogether.
Check for a hallmark
All antique jewelry should bear some form of hallmark. These identify who made the piece, the carat of gold, platinum or silver used and when it was made.
They can be quite difficult to decipher so check out this guide from the Assay Office to learn more about how to read a hallmark.
Youd be surprised how many times a seller will try to claim a piece is much older than it is, despite the hallmark clearly stating that it isnt.
While these tips should hopefully give you an idea, the best thing to do is always take your antique jewelry to a professional jeweller or gemologist for an opinion you can trust.