The mysterious world of antique jewellery tends to captivate those who appreciate fine art and craftsmanship, and it is always important to verify that any item is, in fact, a genuine antique. Experience comes with age, they say, and for a novice antique jewellery collector who knows little about the subject, there’s always a risk of investing in something that isn’t what it seems, and with that in mind, here are a few tips to help you recognise the real thing.
- Jewellery is a Reflection of the Period – Fashions are dictated by eras, and if you are looking at a pair of 19th century earrings, for example, spring clasps were all the rage, while the threaded screw-on clasp was first introduced at the very end of the 19th century. If you are looking to add to your collection of fine antique jewellery, check out the cheap antiques online that can be found with reputable online dealers. Very early 19th century earrings might use a single, large hook, which was the norm in the late 18th century in Europe.
- Look for Marks and Hallmarks – In much the same way that a master painter leaves his signature somewhere on the canvas, fine jewellery makers also had their methods to mark their work. Of course, these marks are well-concealed; the inner shank on a ring, and the rear of an earring, are all places to look, and if you don’t already have one, invest in a loupe, which will help you to distinguish marks and hallmarks.
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- Buy from a Reputable Dealer – This is the easiest way to ensure that the piece is genuine, and if you can manage to forge an alliance with an established online antique jewellery dealer, so much the better. You might, for example, be living in the Home Counties, yet any UK online antique dealer would have nationwide connections, which is great if you are after a specific item. If the dealer knew the period and the maker, that would be all the information he would need, and within a day or two, you could view many fine examples from dealers around the UK.
- Do your Own Research – The Internet is a great source of information, and a few hours over the weekend will expand your knowledge of this specialist field. Knowing the history of a piece makes it so much more appealing, and the more you learn, the more you want to get into the fascinating world of jewellery through the ages. There are many sites full of useful resources where you can expand your knowledge, and the more you learn, the more astute you will become when acquiring.
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You might already have quite a collection, and you can look for marks or hallmarks that will help you with identification, and with the help of an online dealer, you can amass a collection that will one prove to be very valuable. You may well have a certain preference regarding style, or you might appreciate all forms of fine jewellery, and the great thing about collecting fine jewellery is you get to wear it!