jewellery help

Latest Jewellery Questions And Answers

Work has been pretty hectic over the past few months.  I’m in the process of finishing some new handmade jewellery collections, as well as bringing you a many more lovely pieces of vintage and antique jewels; I’ve had boxes of old costume jewellery in storage for a while now, and have finally got round to sorting through them all. They’ll be ready to be put in my shop in the coming weeks.

A tiny handful of the vintage jewellery I've been going through and sorting, ready for sale soon.

A small handful of the piles of vintage jewellery I’ve been going through and sorting.

 

In the meantime, it’s been a while since we’ve had a Q & A session! So here are the latest jewel queries and questions that have been asked (and if you’d like to ask a question please get in touch or leave a message in the comment section below – no question is too small or far out 🙂

 

Readers Q & A:

 

Can you share any tips to find beaded necklaces on Ebay?

My first tip would be to write in the search box both ‘bead’ and ‘beaded’, as they’ll bring up more results. Also, do use the ‘Item Specifics’ area on the left hand side of the page – there are tick box lists to help narrow down your search and help filter out 1000s of unhelpful listings, including excluding International sellers (eg, if you need a necklace quickly and can’t wait for longer shipping from overseas).

Be as detailed and specific as you can; what is it that you’re looking for? Glass beads? Plastic? Faux pearl or cultured? Gold colour or bronze metal? Long or choker? Write it in the search box, don’t be afraid to use lots of words – sometimes I’ll type in a long sentence that over fills the box! If listing results are coming up that are no good for you (eg, you are searching for sparkling crystal beaded necklaces, but you’re having to go through hundreds of adverts for wooden religious rosary’s), simply put a dash mark: minus mark directly in front of the exact word you wish to remove; so if I wanted to search for a white glass bead necklace but didn’t want to see any wooden rosary’s, I would type in the search bar:

White bead glass necklace rosary rosary’s wood wooden

and this should remove all wood rosary listings from your search. Finally, some people swear by searching for miss-spelt listings, so in your case try “knecklace” “neckless” or “necklese” to perhaps strike it lucky and find the stuff no one else can see.  Hope this helps 🙂

 

What does the lion and anchor on jewellery mean?

A lion signifies that the piece is sterling 925 silver, and the anchor means is was tested and passed as genuine sterling silver (correctly called ‘Assaying’) in the city of Birmingham Assay Office in the United Kingdom. This beginner’s article on How To Read A British Hallmark should help you further.

identifying hallmarks UK British help and tips

A sterling silver 925 ingot pendant, with good large clear hallmarks. From the top: a leopard’s head, which tells us it was tested at London Assay Office, a lion ‘passant’ which confirms the silver is genuine 925 sterling, a ‘c’ (1977) which tell us the year it was tested/ made, and on this particular piece a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, as it was the Silver Jubilee 1977 celebration year.

 

Is there a fast way of dating cameo jewelry?

Generally speaking, the quickest way is to look at the quality of the carving. Smooth and beautifully detailed cameo’s tend to be pre-1920s, whilst ‘sharper’ crudely carved cameos are post 1940s. Roman mythology cameos are usually 18th to 19th Century, while pretty side profile portraits of young women with shorter or ponytail hair tend to be 1960s onward (though any type of male portrait tend to be 18th to 19th Century, just to confuse things). Pictorial / rural picture scenes are generally 19th to early 20th Century. Please note these are general guidance only, and not hard rules (eg, there are some modern cameos which are so well carved they look Victorian). If it’s a cameo brooch, I’ve written a photo guide on How To Date A Vintage Brooch, which may help.

A circa 1950s shell cameo pendant, quite crudely carved.

A circa 1950s shell cameo pendant, quite crudely carved.

A Victorian nicely carved shell cameo brooch, depicting Hebe and Zeus as an eagle, from Roman mythology.

A Victorian circa 1880s carved shell cameo brooch, depicting Hebe and Zeus as an eagle, from Roman mythology.

Thank you so much for this question, it’s given me a good blog post inspiration to do a quick-glance photo guide to dating cameos 🙂

 

How do you make micro mosaic jewellery?

Very briefly, tiny tiles (or tiny uniform pieces snapped off thin lampwork glass rods), are placed in a setting that has a strong glue or cement base in it, to form a picture such as flowers. Once everything is set and the glue/cement has dried, a type of grouting is placed over the tiles to secure them in. Unlike most other jewellery, micro mosaic making processes tend to be close guarded secrets, though these Youtube videos here and here may hopefully help further.

How to make micro mosaic jewellery tips help

A standard mosaic brooch, made from tiny glass tiles (approx 2mm to 4mm) set in cement and a gold plated frame.

Proper supplies are almost impossible to get hold of  – I’ve found that searches for micro mosaic tiles only bring up ‘small’ tiles, not the proper tinier micro mosaic jewellery ones. When I was planning on having a go at making micro mosaic jewellery myself a few years ago, the nearest tiles I could find were sold by this supplier who offers a range of Smalti tiles, (I planned use glass nippers to try and cut them even smaller).  I never ended up getting round to making traditional micro mosaic jewellery as I didn’t have the time, but if anyone does, please do let us know how you get on, I’d certainly be fascinated 🙂

If you’re not too concerned about keeping to the ‘traditional’ methods of using glass tiles, but are more interested in the final effect of micro mosaic jewellery, I’ve seen some absolutely stunning examples people have made from polymer clay. Glass seed beads set sideways (so you can’t see the hole) may also be an alternative to experiment with.

 

What does a 1/5 9ct.r.g .. m.k&co ..  stamp on my gold bracelet mean?
Any time you see a math fraction mark on gold-looking jewellery, it usually indicates a type of “gold filled” or “rolled gold” metal finish. Rolled gold is a sort of thicker gold-plating on base metal; it’s better than standard gold plating, but not as good as proper 9k/10k gold. The marks on your particular piece of jewellery mean it’s made from rolled gold, while the “m.k&co” stamp is likely to be the jewelry makers initials. You can discover more about the world of gold plating and the strange letter stamps on gold-looking jewellery here (reading it may also save you from getting ripped off by dodgy jewelry dealers!)
Helpful jewellers stamping "rolled gold" on the bangle rather than confusing us with mysterious fractions and letters.

This helpful jeweler stamped “rolled gold” on the bangle rather than confusing us with mysterious math fractions and letters.

 

How can you tell if jet is genuine?
Surprisingly, real jet feels more like plastic than like glass or gemstone – it’s lightweight, warm and has a slightly ‘oily’ texture (rather than heavy, cold and hard like glass or onyx). Looking at it through a strong magnifying glass or jewellers loupe will reveal some surface texture, not a glass like smoothness. Many people like to use a tile test – ie, scraping a piece of jet lightly on the rough unglazed underside on a tile to see if it leaves dark brown streak, but it’s not something I would personally recommend; it can badly damage the polished surface of the jet, and some materials that look like jet but aren’t, can stain the tile in a similar way too.
Close up detail of genuine Victorian Whitby Jet beads. Whilst the surface is shiny, it's nowhere near as glossy as onyx or glass jewellery. When held, it was also quite light in weight.

Close up detail of genuine Victorian jet gemstone beads, made with jet found at Whitby Bay in England. Whilst the surface is quite shiny, it’s nowhere near the mirror-like glossiness of onyx or black glass. When held, it’s also quite light in weight.

 

how to id identify genuine real jet and glass onyx photos

This is a close up of black glass beads – note how shinier and more sparkling it is than the above picture of the genuine jet gemstone (onyx is very similar looking to black glass as well). Just to really confuse things, black glass is sometimes called ‘French Jet’ by jewelers to make it sound more fancy.

I have a vintage Delft brooch, is it worth anything?

Whilst a lot of people do collect Delftware, the jewellery has unfortunately never really been worth that much, which is as shame because it’s really pretty. Generally speaking, I’ve found that vintage Delft brooches sell for between £3 and £10 ($5 to $12 USD), though once or twice I’ve seen them sell for around the £20 mark ($25 USD) – this is not a valuation, just what I’ve personally seen them sell for over the years.

A pair of pretty blue and white Delft earrings, with distinctive Dutch windmill detail.

A pair of pretty blue and white Delft earrings, with distinctive Dutch windmill detail.

 

Does sterling silver from England always have a lion imprinted on it?
No, a full lion hallmark is only legally needed on British sterling silver that weighs over 7.78g 🙂
What does a crown 585 symbol on my gold jewellery mean?
A crown symbol means it’s genuine gold, and the 585 mark means it’s 14ct gold. Birmingham Assay Office has a helpful guide to hallmarks here.
In old Victorian morning jewelry what do grapes mean?
They were often to do with Jesus Christ; representing the wine of Eucharist and the ‘blood’ of Christ. However, grapes could also symbolize fertility and hospitality, whilst vines and grapes together were a symbol of deep intimate bonds.
I struggle putting on necklaces and bracelets because of the fiddly clasps. Is there anything I can do?
It sounds like magnetic clasps may be your answer. You can buy plain one’s which attach to the clasps already fitted on your jewellery, or if you are buying handmade, many artisans have really pretty one’s that they can fit instead on normal clasps (on bracelets also ask for a safety chain to be fitted, for extra security – any decent jeweler will be happy to do this for you).  Magnetic clasps are stronger than people realize, and I’m a great fan of them.
If for any reason you can’t be wear magnets, a shepherds hook clasp and chain can be a secure alternative both on necklaces and bracelets, and for bracelets why not look out for wrap bangles – these are made from memory wire which is strong, flexible and permanently keeps its shape – it literally wraps around your wrist to create a bangle, no clasp needed.
A fancy diamante studded magnetic copper clasp fitted to a glass bead bracelet.

A fancy diamante studded magnetic copper clasp fitted to a glass bead bracelet.

Handmade nature ladybird lampwork glass bracelet stylish bronze colour magnetic clasp, with a safety chain for added security

Handmade nature ladybird lampwork glass bracelet stylish bronze colour magnetic clasp, with a safety chain for added security

types of clasp alternative to lobster in jewellery making

This long turquoise Czech bead necklace was decorated with huge focal wedding cake glass beads, which made the necklace very heavy. A normal lobster clasp wouldn’t have lasted very long with such weight, so I made a bronze shepherds hook clasp instead, which was both easier to use for the client, and will last for years without breaking.

 

Handmade memory wire wrap bridal bracelet, made with vintage ab crystal beads.

This sparkling bridal bracelet was created using aurora borealis glass beads, threaded onto memory wire, which is strong yet flexible. To put it on, the strand is simply pulled straight, and then wrapped around the wrist- it will quickly snap back into place.

French jet black glass torque bracelet, made from memory wire

A different way of using memory wire is to cut it into a torque design, and then thread beads onto it, as seen in this black glass bracelet; the wire is flexible enough to pull open, yet strong enough to securely flip back into shape once on the wrist.

I hope you have found these months Q and A helpful, and as always please do get in touch if you have any jewellery queries, need help or just want to say hi! Many thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

References and further reading:

Language of Flowers lists:

http://www.daleharvey.com/Directory/articles-of-interest/LANGUAGE+OF+FLOWERS/Meaning+of+Flowers.html

https://artofmourning.com/2010/12/26/symbolism-sunday-the-grape/

http://www.langantiques.com/university/Symbolism_in_Jewelry

Antique mythology cameos ID and information:

(Scroll down) http://www.langantiques.com/university/Symbolism_in_Jewelry

Making micro mosaic jewellery

Tile supplies: http://www.mosaicsupplies.co.uk/product-category/micro-tiles/

Making a micro mosaic pendant (using Fimo clay to set the glass tiles): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDYPe07LIHU

Examples of some fabulous modern micro mosaic fine jewellery: https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/blog/magic-micro-mosaic-jewelry/

 

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Quick ID guide to different types of cameo .. Part 1: Plastic cameos

I’ve recently had a couple of emails from readers asking for help in identifying what their cameos are made from, so it’s given me an idea to do some blog posts on the different type of cameo available.

Let’s start with the cheapest type of cameo – one’s made from plastic resin. Generally costing between £2 and £15, they are perfect for everyday wear, and many are beautifully detailed.

Tips to identify:

  • Plastic cameos tend to feel slightly dense and heavy, and make a dull sound when gently tapped on the teeth.
  • Hold a piece of shell or smooth glass/ pebble in your hand – it’s feels cold. Now, hold a plastic cameo – it will feel warmer and softer in comparison (this is a great tip for identifying plastic beads too).
  • Stand in front of a window, and with the front of the cameo facing the window (so you are looking at the back of it), a hold a plastic cameo up to the light – it’ll be quite dense and opaque, where as shell cameos would still be detailed and quite transparent.

 

Here are some pictures of plastic cameos I’ve had, with further identification details:

 

vintage art deco plastic cameo clip on earrings

Vintage art deco circa 1930s clip on plastic cameos earrings. Note the glue marks around the face, where the white ‘face’ of the cameo has been glued onto a red background (real cameos are carved complete from one shell or hard stone). These plastic earrings have had a lot of thought put into them, as each face is slightly different, as would be the case with real shell cameos.

 

vintage 1970s plastic cameo brooch jewelry

Vintage circa 1970s plastic cameo brooch. There was a big art nouveau and deco revival in both the 1960s and 70s, and many pieces I have seen advertised for sale as genuine art deco often date from this much later period. The technique for this brooch cameo is the same as the above earrings – a separate plastic molded white figure glued to maroon background.

 

Art deco plastic resin cameo vintage brooch 1930s costume jewelry Adam and Eve

An old art deco superb quality molded plastic cameo brooch, depicting Adam and Eve from the Old Testament Bible. This stunning piece dates from around the 1930s, and was completely molded in a cream piece of plastic as one piece, with a darker beige ‘background’ painted on after the molding took place.

 

Plastic kitsch cameo girl pendant charm jewellery

Probably the most famous and well known type of cameo is this plastic side-facing pony-tail lady, first seen around the 1980s and still being mass-produce made today. Quick ID tip! Plastic cameos tend to be glued into their metal frame setting, as you can see with this one (it has a slight gap around the edges where it doesn’t sit flush to the setting. Real shell cameos tend to be flush-bezel set or prong set into the frame, with no gaps.

 

Vintage art deco plastic resin cameo brooch

A well detailed vintage art deco circa 1930s cameo brooch, made from one piece of cream molded plastic, with darker orange painted background and metal filigree detail.. Old art deco plastic cameos can be well detailed – plastic was a new and exotic material to work in, and I have a feeling the complexity of some these deco cameos may have reflected perhaps a desirability of this new ‘plastic’ material at that time.

Vintage circa 1950s plastic costume jewellery cameo brooch

I purchased this cameo brooch as a gamble a few years ago, from an online auction site, hoping it was real shell. It wasn’t – but instead was a lovely quality plastic cameo, nicely bezel set (the type of metal and brooch back dating it to circa 1950s)

 

Vintage 1980s plastic resin cameo costume jewellery brooch dancing people

Beautiful quality circa 1970s plastic cameo brooch. I’ve come across a few of this type (ie, intricately detailed romantic scenes) and they are so realistic they could be mistaken for real cameos. However, on close inspection you can see they are molded; they also are quite heavy, are not very see-through when held to the light, feel warm to the touch compared with glass or stone, and make a dull muffled cluck sound when gently tapped on the front teeth (where as shell/ gemstone will make a high pitched sharp ‘clink’ sound).

 

 

 

Further reading:

Five tips on how to date vintage brooches – with photos to help!

A beginners guide to cameo jewellery (there are pictures of two very good quality plastic cameos in this article).

 

 

 

This month’s jewellery questions and answers ..

Your latest quick Q & As about jewellery ..

 

natural genuine malachite gemstones oval earrings jewellery How to tell real malachite from fake?

Some people test is to rub it very lightly and feather-soft gently on an unglazed tile – it will leave a green streak. HOWEVER, this will damage the malachite (especially if it’s polished – it will leave a permanent damage mark) so I don’t recommend it under any circumstances. Malachite is very heavy (heavier than glass), and ice cold – it takes a long time to warm up when held in your hand. More info on Malachite identity here.

 

vintage job lot mixed vintage jewellery brooches necklaces spares repairs harvest aug26th 13 (5) (595x640) I’m looking for old duplicate jewelry for drama stuff ..

Best bet is probably good old Ebay. Search for the term ‘job lot of vintage jewellery’ (or job lot of necklaces/ bracelets etc), also use key words such as ‘old’, ‘junk’, ‘pile of’ if the term ‘job lot’ isn’t yielding decent results.

 

Antique Victorian blonde hair black enamel mourning vintage brooch Looking for beginners info on Victorian antique jewellery  – help!

Check out my guide here.

 

vintage lapis lazuli & silver bracelet - how to identify How to tell if lapiz lazuli is real?

Check out my guide here.

 

vintage brooch backs jewellery identify age I’m looking for info on antique brooch clasps ..

Check out this article here, which includes a bit on identifying brooch clasps to their historical period – hope this helps 🙂

 

Info on a 10k gold bracelet with a crown symbol?

I’d have to see a good quality close up photo of the stamp, but right now, I haven’t a clue! Anyone any ideas?

 

amber ring - identify gemstoneHow to test amber?

It’s tricky, especially if the stone is set in metal and not loose. Two quick tips – amber is warm and soft, and feels quite plastic-like (which unfortunately means there are lots of plastic fakes around); it’s not cold and not hard like glass or other gemstones. Check out more amber ID info here.

 

what is gold tone jewellery - vintage 1980s faux baroque pearl mega swag gold tone filigree pendant statement necklace collar (1) What is the meaning of ‘gold tone’ jewelry?

It usually means that the item is not solid gold – it’s non-precious metal which is gold in colour, or gold plated. Check out this article here.

 

vintage 60s marcasite shell cameo drop deco pendant (3) Any cameo testing jewellery tips?

Check out this article here – the testing tips are a bit further down.

 

Do you have a jewellery query which you can’t find answers to? While I’m not a professional expert, I have collected many types of jewellery (modern, antique and vintage), gemstones (and costume) for over 20 years, so even if I don’t know the answer to your query,  I can hopefully point you in the right direction.

 

Ask away 🙂