There are several different factors that can help one distinguish between a genuine vintage piece and a fake piece that was made last year in the Far East. Those who know what signs to look out for and where they can find clues and hints on the pieces will be able to shop much more wisely and with less worry that they invested in a phony. Not all pieces of advice are applicable to all pieces- for example, hints regarding pieces with hinges will be of no use for a piece without hinges- but none-the-less these pieces of advice are invaluable for jewelry buyers. Apply the information as necessary.
Most brooches and lockets have hinges and some articulated charms will also feature them. The way that a hinge can made can provide information about when it was made. Whereas tube hinges were used until the later Victorian-era, after that time a sleeker version of the hinge was introduced.
The discovery of a registration mark on a piece of jewelry is an exciting discovery as it is a fantastic way to date a piece of jewelry- it is almost as accurate as dating a piece by its hallmark.
Hallmarks on vintage jewelry vary from country to country with British silver jewelry featuring a set of silver hallmarks, with different hallmarks from different time periods; the stamp .925; the words “silver” or “sterling”; complicated European hallmarks that have to be looked up in hallmark tables.
Clasps & Catches
Different types of catches, such as C catches, trombone catches, roll-over catches and safety-pin catches all provide clues as to the age of your jewelry. A lobster catch on your jewelry is an almost-sure sign that your jewelry is new.
Makers Marks & Labels
If a piece of jewelry features either a makers mark or label, the shape and style of them can help one date and value it.
What is it?
There are some pieces of jewelry that have been popular for centuries- such as brooches- whereas others such as watch chains, charm bracelets and dangly earrings have moved in and out of fashion. Depending on what the piece of jewelry is, one can get a better idea what time period(s) it could have come from.
Jewelry can be made from a range of metals- pot metal, aluminum, platinum and copper and different materials have been popular at different times in history. Therefore, the metal that your jewelry is made from is also an indicator of the period it was made in.
The weight of a piece of jewelry can also be indicative of the time period it is from- for example, a Victorian brooch could very well be heavier than a brooch from Edwardian times.
Plastic was introduced in the Victorian era and ever since then has been a popular material for costume jewelry. The type and color of plastic that you jewelry is made from can hint towards its age.
Different colors were popular in different time periods- just like today when different colors fall in and out of fashion.
The style of a jewelry piece will indicate the earliest possible time period that it can be from.