Bit of fun today – try to guess the age of these seven items of jewellery…..answers at the bottom of page 🙂
Number 1 below:
Number 6 below:
Number 7 :
Number 1 Red Buckle Brooch: This is a typical vintage Scottish agate buckle brooch, which dates from the antique Victorian period, circa 1880s.
Number 2 Glass diamante swag necklace: Although it looks vintage, this necklace is a lovely modern reproduction. How can we tell? The clasp is a modern ‘lobster’ clasp with typical post 1990s long extender chain. Also, the spacing between the stones is longer than on vintage necklace.
Number 3 Yellow bead necklace: The rounded patterned barrel clasp indicates that this necklace is art deco and dates from the 1920s. Another give-away is if you shine a UV black light torch on the glass beads, they’ll glow in the dark*; early 20th century and art deco glass was sometimes had minute amounts of real uranium added to them intensify the colour.
Number 4 Cross pendant: This kitsch looking item is decorated with glass tiles and is properly known as micro mosaic jewellery, a distinct looking type of jewelry which has been made in Italy for hundreds of years. This Italian religious pendant is modern and dates from the year 2000 – it was made to commemorate Christs 2000th birthday and is dated on the back.
Number 5 plastic and rhinestone brooch: Although it screams art deco period, this brooch actually dates from the 1970s (there was a big art deco revival during this decade). The biggest give-away is the pin at the back, which has standard modern roll-over clasp.
Number 6 Black bracelet: Believe it or not, this bracelet is over 120 years old. It dates from the Victorian period and is made from Whitby Jet, a type of gemstone mined in the east coast of England, which is now rare. Antique Victorian jewellery was so well made that a lot still survives in excellent and perfectly wearable condition today.
Number 7 Orange necklace: This double strand kitsch looking necklace is made from real coral gemstone, and dates from the Victorian / early Edwardian period, circa 1900s. Coral was worn by superstitious Victorians as they believed it enhanced their health, and protected them from other people’s jealousy.
Many people want to know about dating vintage and antique brooches, and how they can tell if a brooch is old. Here are a five tips to help you find out…
If you see a brooch, the first thing to do is to check out its clasp mechanisms. The ‘T-bar pins and c-clasp’ types were used from the 18th Century up until the around 1910s, after which they fell out of favour.
Check the length of the pin itself – the longer the pin, the older the brooch (this was perhaps due to clothing being much thicker and heavier in the old days, so a long pin was needed to keep it in place securely).
From around the 1910s to 1950s we occasionally see what we call in the trade ‘trombone’ clasps, which are tubular cylinders used to keep the pin itself in place rather than a c-clasp (though c-clasps were still very common in this period too).
Generally speaking you tend to only find roll-over clasps on brooches made from the 1960s onwards. (Note: Early experimental prototype roll-over ‘safety’ clasps can be seen as early as the 1910s, though these are exceptionally rare – I’ve only ever seen a small handful made before the 1940s in the last 10 years).
There are no hard and fast rules to dating a brooch – things other than a pin and clasp are taken into account; the tips given here are general tips only for general guidance, and you may occasionally find a crude c-clasp on a piece of 1970s jewellery, or a long pin on 1980s jewellery (though T-bar hinges are never found in post 1930s jewellery, so that’s a help anyway!).
Picture time! You can see some examples of these types of brooch clasps below, starting from the earliest type:
Finally, the most important tip when learning to date vintage jewellery is to handle as many pieces as possible. Go to auctions, antique fairs and proper vintage shops and have a really good look at what genuine vintage jewellery looks and feel like.