Tag Archive | tools

What’s in the Jewellery Muse’s box of tools?

 

As you learn more about vintage jewellery, there are a few tools that can really help you develop your knowledge and make identifying your jewelry a lot easier (I call them my basic essentials).  Most of the following are inexpensive, and can be easily purchased online..

1.  Jeweller’s loupe.  Aim for either  x20  or  x30 magnification.  Not just for reading hallmarks, these mega magnifiers can help you identify materials such as coral or bog oak, gold plating, inclusions in gemstones, and damage that wouldn’t be seen with the naked eye.  

My jewellery loupes, of various magnification, from x 10 to x 30. Personally, my x20 magnification loupe is the one I use most.

My jewellery loupes, of various magnification. My x20 magnification loupe is the one I use most.

2.  Book of gold and silver hallmarks.  Beginners to United Kingdom gold and silver identification can’t go wrong with Bradburys Book of Hallmarks.  An easy to use pocket size booklet, yet very concise and in-depth. 

3.  Diamond tester.  If you want to start collecting fine jewellery a diamond tester is an absolute must.  These are quite expensive to buy but are an essential investment, especially as there are so many fake diamonds around. A good quality basic one can be purchased for less than £20, though specialist Moissanite/ diamond testers cost more  (Moissanites are the best quality imitation diamonds).

Diamond gemstone tester

Though a more expensive outlay, a good quality diamond tester could end up saving you a lot of money if you want to venture down the gemstone and diamond jewellery path; there are lots of fakes stones out there!

4. UV torch light.  Some glass stones and occasional natural gemstones will glow under ultra violet light, so this special type of torch can really help you on the way to identifying objects. Also known a s a black light torch, prices start from as little as £3.

UV torch jewelry

Small palm sized UV torch glowing the distinctive purple-blue colour of ultra violet light. This one cost me about £3 on Ebay and has helped to identify Uranium glass and even gemstones, many times.

5. An unglazed white tile.  Certain gemstones and materials such as jet will stain the tile when gently rubbed on it, helping you in identification.  

6. A pure wool garment/ strip.  Organic materials, such as amber will often create static electricity when rubbed on wool; rub the amber on the wool vigorously, then hold a human air to it – real amber attracts the hair to it like a magnet.

7. Simichrome polish. A type of old plastic called Bakelite is highly collectable and was used to make costume jewellery during the earlier part of the 20th Century. Identifying Bakelite can be tricky, but rubbing Bakelite with a small dot of Simichrome polish will normally produce a yellow stain on the cloth (check out my post Identifying jewellery materials for more tips on how to ID Bakelite).

Using Simichrome polish to positively identify an Art Deco Cherry amber colour Bakelite necklace. Simichrome paste is actually pink, but rub it on Bakelite and it will turn the pink paste a yellow colour (varies from mustard yellow to pinky-yellow).

Using Simichrome polish to positively identify an Art Deco Cherry amber colour Bakelite necklace. Simichrome paste is actually pink, but rub it on Bakelite and it will turn the pink paste a yellow colour (varies from mustard yellow to pinky-yellow).

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