Behold that gorgeous antique brooch you've been staring at for the last couple of days on the web! It's obviously Art Nouveau... isn't it?
It's often very difficult to distinguish from the genuine antique jewellery piece and a good reproduction. Here are some tips that you ought to bear in mind before you decide to shop and purchase what you believe is a Victorian piece of jewellery only to find out that it is clever reproduction.
Being able to identify the findings which are attached to the jewellery for function instead of design may also be a good way to determine age, although findings can often have been altered at a later date. A few examples of "findings" would be the hinges, clasps and catches on the piece. The Victorian era featured tube hinges until a far more streamlined design was introduced in the later part of the era. Other types of hinges for example roll over, C shaped and safety pin types evolved through the years. A lobster catch will not be on the piece of authentic antique jewellery.
The shades and metals changed in style through the years. The skill deco period featured bright primary colours as the Victorian times did not. Being able to find out the cut from the stone and also the type of stone in the piece will even assist in dating the piece. Modern brilliant cut diamonds, for instance, were not introduced to the market before the early Twentieth century.
Aluminium, platinum, pot metal and copper happen to be the most popular metals in the Twentieth century. White gold for instance, although first introduced at the turn of the 1900s, wasn't in wide circulation until about 1920 if this was used like a cheaper option to platinum. As another example, 15 carat gold was a British Empire gold standard until it was discontinued in 1932 also it was commonly used in Victorian jewellery.
But often in Victorian times there was more emphasis on the workmanship and beauty of the item than you are on the caliber of materials used. Pinchbeck for example, an alloy of zinc and copper, was a respectable option to gold in the Victorian times but is commonly available at the cheaper end from the market today when so much importance is positioned on jewellery being made of gold or platinum.
Feeling the load from the piece can also help identify its age but, if you are buying online, ask the vendor just how much they weigh. A brooch from the Victorian times can look a lot heavier than one which was reproduced recently but normally a large piece is made reasonably light so that it didn't pull around the wearer's clothing. Check also to find out if jewels are glued in and if the piece is hand made or the product of the mould.
A registration mark on the piece provides you with a precise time period and so will hallmarks. A makers mark or label is yet another step in identification. There are plenty of guides and forums available online to assist identify hallmarks.