For antique jewelry collectors and enthusiastic looking to learn more about how to identify antique pieces and what era, period and even country they were made within and originate from, here is everything you need to know.
Take it to an Expert
Dating antique jewelry is something jewelry historians and jewellers spend their entire careers perfecting and studying. Then, the best way to date an antique jewelry item is to seek the help and expertise of a jewelry historian or professional jeweller, and to only ever buy from a reputable and well established jeweller, dealer, auction house or store, such as ourselves here at Royal Antique Jewelry.
Look for Hallmarks
Hallmarks provide an instant means of dating a jewelry item, provided that is the item in question bears hallmarks.
Because hallmarking jewelry did not become common or standard practise until 1910 items pre-dating the convention of course are unlikely to bear hallmarks. Consequently, items sold as pre-Victorian or having been made before 1910 and which despite this bear a hallmark may in fact be revealing themselves as counterfeit.
Further, because even today only nineteen countries are currently members of the convention, this means that only antique jewelry items cast and created in certain countries will bear hallmarks telling the specific dates in which they were made.
To see which these countries are and learn how to accurately read and decipher hallmarks, you can do so via the official Assay Office website. It is also worth avoiding the trap many American jewelry buyers fall into, as hallmarking is not standard practise in the USA, of confusing a makers mark with a hallmark.
Assessing Age According to Style
The age and authenticity of a supposed antique jewelry item, fortunately, can be dated by its style in many cases. Because different countries, periods, fashions and eras made use of differing and specific metals, gems, styles and motifs, it is further possible in many cases to trace the origin as well as the age of antique piece of jewelry based solely on the metal from which an item was made combined with the style it was made in and gem stones it contains.
To learn more about how to successfully date jewelry in this way, a fantastic place to begin learning is via the Antique Jewelry University online Encyclopaedia which features an in depth and visual guide and references to refer to.
Fittings and Findings
When admiring antique or even modern jewelry most of us of course study an item from the front in order to admire the part likely to be seen and made and finished to be admired. When dating an antique jewelry item though, it is important and useful to also and even begin by turning the item over and taking a closer look at its fittings and findings.
The fittings and findings used to make brooches, pendants and earrings in particular have all changed significantly over the years. Hence, not only is familiarising yourself with the different fittings and findings used to create different jewelry throughout the ages a good means of assessing the potential authenticity of a jewelry item, because the fittings and findings have developed and changed numerous times as new technologies and fashions have come into being studying the findings and fittings of jewelry items is also often a reliable way to date earrings, and to a lesser extent brooches and pendants.
For more information on how to identify and date antique jewelry and as well to learn more generally about the history of antique jewelry the UK Victoria & Albert Museum website features a rich, dazzling and reliable history. Meanwhile, to view genuine examples of antique jewelry items from all the major eras and periods, you can of course view our own collection here at Royal Antique Jewelry.