Dating victorian jewelry

Content
  • Dating Brooch Fasteners – 1850 to 1910
  • The Buck Stops Here: Hallmarks aid in validating Victorian jewelry’s value
  • Dating Jewelry: Landmark Discoveries, Inventions, and Historical Events
  • A history of jewellery
  • The History Behind … Victorian mourning jewelry
  • Victorian Jewellery
  • 5 Easy Clues for Dating Antique or Vintage Jewelry
  • A Guide to Early Victorian Romantic Period Jewelry
  • It’s better than Tinder!
  • Hallmarks on Period Jewelry

Depictions of grave-digging tools and skulls gave way to softer symbolism–clouds and angels–as mourning jewelry became entirely about remembering individuals who were lost, and was incorporated into the strict mourning dress code imposed upon women in Victorian times. When was the Victorian era and what characteristics mark mourning jewelry from this period? Historically, it is the period from to , spanning the year reign of Queen Victoria, who remains the longest-reigning monarch in history though she soon could lose that title to Elizabeth II. Dailey, notes, however that the dates for jewelry design are not so exacting, as styles sometimes overlap dates. What makes Victorian era mourning jewelry different from that of the Georgian era?

Dating Brooch Fasteners – 1850 to 1910

Collecting Victorian jewelry can be fun and frustrating, especially for the novice collector. The frustrating part stems from several factors, beginning with missing hallmarks on most American-made items, which is typical of the Victorian era. Hallmarks provide collectors with a myriad of information, such as what type of metal was used to make the item, plus when and where it was made. Things get even more confusing because stones may be genuine, a doublet, synthetic or a spinel.

A brief history lesson is in order before delving into these points in more detail. A perfect example of Bohemian garnets set with tsavorite garnets to mimic the richer look of rubies and emeralds. Photo courtesy Melanie C. Because this spans more than six decades, antique jewelry collectors break the Victorian era down into three distinct time periods. The early portion is known as the Romantic period and dates from until The Grand period, with the styles and accessories most associated with Queen Victoria, begins in the start of our Civil War and lasts until Because fashions did not change as rapidly as today, it is common to find a piece of jewelry dated or hallmarked from the Grand period but resembling the earlier Romantic era, blurring or blending the two styles.

Hallmarks are tiny markings placed on jewelry by the maker. Not until after did the United Kingdom create gold hallmarks for the lower gold content more commonly used today such as 9 karat, 12 karat and 15 karat. This change in gold content coincides with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle class. Hallmarks became a mainstay for British pieces, but American jewelers were not required to hallmark their items. One mistaken assumption about hallmarks is that the British government required jewelers to hallmark their pieces to prove the taxes had been paid on the material, primarily gold and silver.

Think of a Guild as an early version of the trade union. These organizations provided helpful services to the consumer, such as standardizing the gold content of pieces. When an item was stamped 18 karat gold for example, it contained parts gold or 75 percent gold versus the lesser 14 karat which is only 58 percent gold. This protected the public from unscrupulous tradesmen while holding the jewelers accountable for their hallmarks.

Based on the authoritative and comprehensive work of the late Christie Romero, this book is a timeless guide to the world of jewelry. Plus, when you order from our online store, KrauseBooks. By limiting the number of apprentices in training, this ensured enough work for future jewelers. To be apprenticed into any Guild was an honorable and noteworthy career move, guaranteeing the family a prosperous future.

To further compound this problem, American made jewelry rarely had a hallmark of any kind before , and when an item was hallmarked it was usually only for the gold content. Peruse any old newspaper or magazine from the Victorian era and find dozens of ads hawking merchandise. Signing his jewelry came later. Can you tell which item above is the blue spinel versus the true sapphire?

Both are set in white gold and surrounded by diamonds, but the sapphire is on the left and the blue spinel on the right. Because Americans eschewed the strict codes of propriety prevalent in Europe, money and all its trappings created a new kind of aristocracy in the United States. Smart tradesmen picked up on this trend and fashioned jewelry from 9-, and karat gold versus the more expensive 18 and 22 karat. The market for gold-plated pieces, known as rolled gold, also grew.

Rolled gold can be so heavily plated that it may test positive as 9 karat or Another less costly jewelry material was vermeil, which utilized a thin gold plate over sterling silver. Though vermeil has existed for centuries, it was mainly used by royal families because the base is sterling silver — still a precious metal. During the Industrial Revolution, many American-made items were fashioned in vermeil. When the light gold plating wore off, the owner still had an attractive silver piece.

This wash soon wore off, however. Note that there never was a hallmark created for rolled gold and gold washed items. Vermeil pieces would bear the sterling mark. American jewelers rarely made vermeil pieces of jewelry, preferring to sell the cheaper rolled gold and gold washed items instead. Besides the confusion over metals, semi-precious stones made their way into pieces in lieu of their higher priced counterparts such as diamonds, rubies and emeralds.

White topaz or rock crystals frequently substituted for diamonds while bohemian garnets doubled as rubies, green garnets as emeralds and so on. Green garnets come from two very different minerals, the tsavorite and demantoid. Tsavorites are a lighter green and less expensive than the rare demantoid garnet with its dark green color.

Demantoid garnets were used sparingly in jewelry during the Victorian era. Though dear, they were still friendlier on the wallet than a genuine emerald. Jewelers also utilized doublets in lieu of large, expensive stones. Though doublets have been around since the 18th century, their use increased dramatically during the Victorian era. To the trained eye, the fused or glued seams of the doublet stones are easily discernible. Knowing this, jewelers rarely mounted a doublet in the high claw setting so popular during the Aesthetic period.

Instead, doublets were usually set into the metal, much like the bezel or invisible settings of today. Vermail earring Photo courtesy Melanie C. Synthetic stones have been around since the s, but required special skills to manufacturer that many jewelers refused to learn. But when the affluent middle class started scoffing up these affordable lookalikes, jewelers soon learned the rudiments of creating synthetics, especially for sapphires. There was no good substitute for the deep blue of the sapphire except glass, which rarely fooled anyone.

Besides synthetics, spinels often substituted for rubies. In , the Guilds stepped in and developed the technology that allowed gemologists to distinguish rubies and spinels as separate minerals. But education and training was slow to travel across the great pond during the early s, so many spinels were sold as rubies during the Victorian era, especially in the United States. So how does someone start a Victorian jewelry collection, especially with no hallmarks?

The best teacher of early American made jewelry is experience. Pick the brains of the dealer who owns the item and buy some good reference books with extensive photographs. Begin a collection with only hallmarked pieces. They may cost more up front, but save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars in the end. You must be logged in to post a comment. About our columnist: Melanie C. Thomas has 20 years experience researching, buying and selling military memorabilia.

She and her husband run Arsenal of the Alleghenys, a Civil War artifact shop in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, , arsenal-1 embarqmail.

The Romantic Period marked the start of the Victorian Era. However, some elements endured and saw transformations, some of which can help date a piece . Fine gold wire was also employed frequently to add to the design. This is a nice trick to know when determining the date of Victorian jewelry.

Jewellery is a universal form of adornment. Jewellery made from shells, stone and bones survives from prehistoric times. It is likely that from an early date it was worn as a protection from the dangers of life or as a mark of status or rank. In the ancient world the discovery of how to work metals was an important stage in the development of the art of jewellery.

The Victorian period began on the 20th of June , when Princess Victoria became Queen at the age of

Costume Jewelry has a rich and vibrant history. By understanding economics, culture, fashion and even political events, the collector can become her own Sherlock Holmes. The elusive process of circa dating a piece can now be unlocked by just knowing how to use the keys to the door.

Dating Jewelry: Landmark Discoveries, Inventions, and Historical Events

Jewelry mirrors time, culture, and societal values. It reflects the taste and attitude of every period in history. There are definitely clues that can be used in deciphering how old your jewelry is. The older and more rare the piece of jewelry, the more valuable it will be. There are many more clues than just five, but these are quick and easy ways to help determine the age of your jewelry. The invention of different earring findings will help date your jewelry.

A history of jewellery

Dating jewelry is done through multiple methods: James Cox developed a method of backing silver with a thin sheet of gold in This is significant in dating jewelry since it means gold-backed silver is post, and not from the earliest decades of the Georgian era. However, the absence of gold backing does not mean that a piece is pre This means that not all Georgian jewelry was completely handmade. The British began to allow production of jewelry using 9 carat, 12 carat, and 15 carat gold in Prior to this date British gold jewelry was supposed to be 18 carat gold. Therefore, if jewelry is marked 9, 12, or 15 carat it is post Another interesting fact: In the absence of other indicators this can help you determine country of origin.

There are a number of clues you can use to successfully date antique and vintage brooches and pins. This usually begins with looking at things like clasps and hinges, since certain types are known to have been used during specific periods in time.

One of the best ways to avoid reproductions and fakes is to know and understand how originals are made. Reproductions are rarely made the same as originals due to changes in materials, labor costs and modern production techniques. When looking at brooches, you can get a good idea of the age of the piece by studying the catches, hinges and pins Fig.

The History Behind … Victorian mourning jewelry

Collecting Victorian jewelry can be fun and frustrating, especially for the novice collector. The frustrating part stems from several factors, beginning with missing hallmarks on most American-made items, which is typical of the Victorian era. Hallmarks provide collectors with a myriad of information, such as what type of metal was used to make the item, plus when and where it was made. Things get even more confusing because stones may be genuine, a doublet, synthetic or a spinel. A brief history lesson is in order before delving into these points in more detail. A perfect example of Bohemian garnets set with tsavorite garnets to mimic the richer look of rubies and emeralds. Photo courtesy Melanie C. Because this spans more than six decades, antique jewelry collectors break the Victorian era down into three distinct time periods. The early portion is known as the Romantic period and dates from until The Grand period, with the styles and accessories most associated with Queen Victoria, begins in the start of our Civil War and lasts until Because fashions did not change as rapidly as today, it is common to find a piece of jewelry dated or hallmarked from the Grand period but resembling the earlier Romantic era, blurring or blending the two styles.

Victorian Jewellery

No single period has seen such a diverse group of jewelry attributed to it than the Victorian era. The jewelry is named after Queen Victoria , whose reign lasted from to , making her the second longest-ruling monarch. She was surpassed by Queen Elizabeth II in During this time, different styles of fashion and jewelry came and went. There was no fairytale ending here, though, because in Albert died prematurely and Victoria went into mourning.

5 Easy Clues for Dating Antique or Vintage Jewelry

For estate jewelers and jewelry historians, hallmarks provide for an extra source of information to accurately date a jewelry object and determine by whom it was made. Although the study of hallmarks serves as a wonderful research avocation to many involved in the antiques trade, a trained professional can, and should, put such a desired object in the proper time frame without the presence of such marks. Contemporary jewelry historians use hallmarks for research purposes but these hallmarks were never intended to make the life of appraisers easier. Rather, they were an early type of consumer protection. King Hiero II of Syracuse gave Archimedes the assignment to investigate the purity of a newly commissioned golden wreath, believing silver was added to the gold content.

A Guide to Early Victorian Romantic Period Jewelry

This lava stone cameo depicts Cupid in a Neo-Classical design set in a silver mounting. She ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom in and died in Those sixty-four years witnessed enormous changes in industry, society, fashion, and, of course, jewelry. For example, it started with horse-drawn carriages and candlelight and ended with automobiles and electricity. However, some elements endured and saw transformations, some of which can help date a piece.

It’s better than Tinder!

There seems to be a problem serving the request at this time. The Victorian era is roughly divided into the Romantic Period, lasting from to , the Grand Period, lasting from to , and the Aesthetic Period from to , and each made their own fashion statement. When the queen died, more handmade jewelry was seen during the Edwardian period. Queen Victoria fell in love with jewelry designer Prince Albert whose favorite medium was Victorian silver. He made many beautiful bracelets, necklaces, lockets, earrings, and a special brooch for her to wear. A popular Victorian motif on diamond rings was a snake with its tail in its mouth standing for eternal love.

Hallmarks on Period Jewelry

Though not all-inclusive, the following characteristics should help the collector of antique jewelry identify authentic early Victorian pieces. In England, the gold content laws were changed in the mid’s to standardize gold at 9, 12, and 15 karats. Up until then the term “gold” meant 18 – 22 karat. At this same time, laws made it mandatory that hallmarks be applied to show gold content. Any piece of gold jewelry marked 9 k was not made before Some gilt pieces will have bases of silver and the silver hallmarks will be visible and can be used to date the piece. Platinum was not used much before the s as it was too hard to cut until the diamond saws became available.

Dating Jewelry – Victorian Era