Dating vintage jewelry

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Whether updating a collection, searching for information about a family heirloom, or assisting a colleague or customer, dating a piece of vintage costume jewelry can present a challenge.

Many tools and techniques are familiar to the experienced collector, including dating by textured versus smooth back casting, extended pin stems and simple “C” closures, the presence of a copyright symbol, the use of aurora borealis rhinestones, to name but a few.

Vintage jewelry findings of the 50s, including safety catches, pin stems and joints, ear wires and nuts. Exclusively Wholesale, 1950 Vintage jewelry findings including guard chains and ring guards.

Pin stems, screw-back earrings findings, safety and plain catches. Dual ring guards, child's ring chains, earrings guards, safety chains, cord bracelet guard chains, Benj. Exclusively Wholesale, 1950 shown here was patented in about 1894, though these earrings originally had a different style back for pierced ears.

According to Lang Antiques’ Antique Jewelry University, the term “hallmark” refers to any stamps or marks on jewelry and usually includes one or more of the following: Purity marks for older silver pieces can differ from those commonly seen today.

For example, most Sterling Silver Jewelry up until the 1940s era was usually stamped “STERLING” or “STER” or “STG.” The “925” mark did not come into common use until later.

When a ring has been previously owned and was made over 100 years ago from the present year, we call it "antique".

The T Bar clasp is one of the earliest styles of clasps for brooches and pins. The pin extended slightly over the edge and had no locking or holding mechanism.

Some makers continue to use the “STERLING” mark in place of “925” even today.

Vintage jewelry from other countries may have European purity marks, such as “585” for 14K gold and “750” for 18K gold, as shown in the photo below.

Check out the fascinating history of our antique jewelry below!

Learn more The majority of the antique jewelry in the Trumpet & Horn collection fall into seven major time periods.

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