When it comes to antique jewellery, quality is key. There is a certain beauty and refinement that only antique jewellery can offer, and it can be a very sound investment too.
Authentic antique pieces should be hallmarked – however, hallmarking wasn’t compulsory until 1972 and many vintage or antique jewellery items are unmarked. A Gold acid tester can give you an approximate date of manufacture though.
Whether you are drawn to the intricate designs of the Victorian era or the geometric patterns of Art Deco, antique jewellery transcends fleeting fashion trends and remains eternally stylish. It also offers an authentic connection to history, allowing you to wear a piece of the past and become part of its story.
In jewellery trade terms, anything over 100 years old is considered ‘antique’. However, it isn’t always possible to assign an exact date to a piece unless it has been dated stamped or carries a hallmark specifying its date of manufacture.
Antique jewellery often features Gold gilt, which is produced using fire-gilding. It can also be crafted in Gold vermeil, which uses electroplating or chemical gilding. Pinchbeck Gold, an alloy of brass, copper and zinc, is a common substitute for Gold in antique jewellery, and you can tell if your piece is pinchbeck by using a Gold acid tester. It will froth bright green!
In addition to the history of each piece, antique jewellery uk can have a beauty all its own. Many pieces from this era are elegant and refined, with an emphasis on symmetry and structure. Others are more stylised, with a geometric feel and use of coloured gemstones. These designs are a perfect match for those looking to add a bit of flair to their look.
One of the most important things to remember about antique jewellery uk is that it was almost always handmade. As a result, the quality of craftsmanship is often superior to that of modern jewellery. In the past, many pieces were created as bespoke jewellery for wealthy clients, and this level of skill was not replicated until recently.
It’s also worth mentioning that the gold used in older jewellery may not be as pure as it is today. Some older pieces are made of Pinchbeck, an alloy that’s similar to Gold. It’s easy to spot this type of jewellery by using a Gold acid tester.
Antique jewellery is often a collector’s item or a family heirloom. However, not all antique pieces will hold value. Many factors determine the value of a piece of jewellery. Some of these include the quality of craftsmanship, design and raw materials. Generally, jewellery made from precious metals will maintain value longer than others.
The condition of the jewellery also impacts its value. A clean piece will look more attractive to a prospective buyer and therefore fetch a higher price. Similarly, if the jewellery is branded, it will have a greater resale value.
Another factor that influences the value of antique jewellery is whether it has any hallmarks. Hallmarks can identify the type of gold used in a piece and its date of production. They are sometimes lost over time, especially if the piece has undergone repairs or resizing. The resale value of antique and vintage jewellery is also determined by its popularity. For example, Art Deco jewellery has enjoyed a recent resurgence. This is due to its stylised motifs and geometric shapes.
Buying antique jewellery is more than just an enjoyable experience, it is also a great opportunity to acquire a piece of history. Many of these pieces have been cherished by their owners for generations and can tell the story of the wearer’s family, lifestyle and personality.
The 1860s saw the apex of tortoiseshell pique, where naturalistic designs were inlaid by hand into buttons, brooches and chatelaine. This was followed by a return to more neo-classical miniatures, including sepia paint on ivory of grieving women by urns and tombs.
By the mid-Victorian period, social attitudes had radically changed. Women were no longer confined to the home and enormous crinolines gave way to a new backswept hairstyle that expanded women’s decolletages. The birthstone opal was discovered in Australia in 1870 and its mystical qualities led to a revival of Victorian interest in ethereal designs. This included bow motifs and floral ornaments.