Tag Archive | dating jewellery

Quiz time! Guess the age of this jewellery….

Bit of fun today¬† – try to guess the age of these seven items of jewellery…..answers at the bottom of page ūüôā

Number 1 below:

Guess the age of the vintage jewellery

Red brooch

Number two:

Guess the age of the vintage jewelry

Rhinestone necklace

Number 3:

Guess the age of the vintage jewellery

Yellow bead necklace

Number 4:

Guess the age of the vintage jewellery

Cross pendant


Number 5:

Guess the age of the vintage jewelry

Plastic and rhinestone brooch


Number 6 below:

Guess the age of the vintage jewellery

Black bracelet

Number 7 :

Guess the age of the vintage jewellery

Orange necklace



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 Рit 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.

Vintage uranium glass bead necklace deco jewelry under UV light

* here’s a picture of those yellow uranium glass beads under UV light:


Five tips on how to date a vintage brooch…. with pictures to help!

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:

antique scottish agate victorian banded agate brooch jewellery dating tips

VICTORIAN T -BAR HINGES: A typical antique T-bar hinge and C-clasp shown on a brooch dating circa 1880s. The T-bar is named after the T shape of the hinge (left of picture), while the C-clasp is named after the c shaped hook catch the pin fits into (right). This type of brooch fixing was used throughout the Victorian period and up until around the Art Deco era.

antique scottish agate banded brooch 1a close up T- bar hinge jewelry dating

VICTORIAN T -BAR HINGES: Close up of an antique t-bar hinge, used on circa pre-1920s jewellery, with the blue ring circling a good example of one.

whitby jet brooch jewelry

VICTORIAN T -BAR HINGES: The back of a circa 1880s Victorian Whitby Jet mourning brooch shows a crude T-bar hinge and c-clasp.  Note the long pin, which stretches way over the brooch itself.

antique edwardian glass paste rhinestone brooch vintage dating jewelry tips

EDWARDIAN HINGES: In the early 20th Century the T-bar hinge was gradually replaced with a smaller rounded hinge, as seen on this circa Edwardian 1910s brooch (and like on the brooches we see nowadays). Note that the long pin is still popular.

vintage 1950s brown banded glass agate brooch green pearl rhinestones dating help jewellery

20TH CENTURY TROMBONE CLASPS: The trombone tube clasp never really became commonly used, and was generally seen on brooches from around the 1910s up to the 1950s. It consists of a cylinder tube within a cylinder – you pull the inner cylinder out to release the pin.

vintage 1970s rolled gold shell cameo brooch pendant (3)

A standard roll-over pin and clasp, which became the standard brooch fitting around the 1960s onwards to today. Note how short the pin itself has become, especially when compared to the long Victorian pins.

victorian vintage antique etruscan gold emerald green brooch glass

ROLL-OVER SAFETY CLASP:  A good close up of a modern roll over clasp. Just to confuse things, this is actually a repair job Рa modern clasp fitting on a very old antique Victorian mourning brooch. Note the silver soldering, which gives the repair away  Рthe roll-over clasp has been put on there as the original 120 year old  c-clasp had broken off.  Dating old jewellery can be complicated!

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.