An exceptional example of the Portuguese bow-knot pendant in a quality we are proud of to present. The exquisite design, excellently executed by highly skilled jewellers is a true joy for the eye. This type of jewel is called a laça bow-knot. The abundantly used diamonds and heavy gold metal work can make us only wonder what high class noble lady this jewel belonged to.
That has to be the number one question that buyers ask me. The answer is research. A lot of research. With most antique pieces, a specific date or year is usually not available unless the piece is signed or hallmarked or has documented provenance. However with a little knowledge, you can usually get pretty close to the age of a piece.
I try to read and study as many books and articles on antique jewelry, clothing and history that become available to me. Even studying old photographs helps in the research process. Actually seeing how pieces were worn and what they were used for is very useful information. So if you are looking for information on Victorian jewelry, for example, look at old tintypes. The U.S. Library of Congress has a vast digital collection of old photographs on their website. I could easily spend hours looking at them. Which leads to my next step. The internet.
When I first started collecting, there were no personal computers or internet. So now it is absolutely amazing to me what can be found on the internet, as far as research goes. So many fabulous sites devoted to antiques and antique jewelry. A wealth of information! Don’t forget about searching images as well as articles.
If you are interested in collecting certain types or eras of antique jewelry, there is probably no better way to learn about them than actually holding and inspecting many, many pieces of jewelry. Up close and personal. After a while, you begin to see how pieces of certain eras were made. The materials used. The construction of a piece. Certain cuts of stones. Engraving techniques. It all helps to date a piece. This does take time and attention to details, but it will help you to discern between the true antique and the freshly made item.
Remember also that vintage style or antique style does not equal antique or vintage. So don’t let certain words lead you to believe that a piece of jewelry is old just because of a descriptive word. These days the words antique, vintage, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, estate piece, (just to name a few) are being tossed around quite liberally to describe a style. Usually not meant to be deceiving, but to a new collector or buyer, it can be quite confusing. My favorite has to be “it was my grandma’s”. Not to say that someone’s grandma did not have antiques, but to many people, the word “grandma” conjures up an image of an elderly woman in a rocking chair. I can tell you that my sister is a grandma and she does not fit that image at all! So just because it belonged to “grandma” does not make it old.
If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask! I am pretty sure that most antique dealers to not bite! Most reputable dealers will happily answer your questions. And yes, even a reputable dealer can be fooled sometimes. It happens. We are human. You never stop learning in this business. It is just part of the process of becoming a reputable antiques dealer. So arm yourself with knowledge. Do some research and have some fun. You will meet some great people along the way and in no time, it may just be you answering the question of “How do you know how old that is?”.
Text written by Wicked Darling running an antique jewelry business in Georgia, United States
Click here to visit her beautiful collection of antique jewels
A. Protecting your antique jewellery.
Even when stored, precious jewellery needs special care. Jewellery should be kept in a fabric lined jewel case or a box with compartments or dividers.
If placed in one box, each piece should be wrapped in tissue paper because a diamond can scratch and damage other diamonds.
Though most people wear a ring all a day, however there are occasions when it should be removed:
Do not wear a ring while doing rough work. Even a diamond is durable, it can also be chipped by a very hard blow.
High temperatures can ruin jewellery and care must be taken during soldering.
Organic material like pearls, corals, cameos etc. can be damaged by acids, alcohol (including perfume) and skin creams.
Diamond Jewellery should not come in contact with chlorine bleach because it can pit and discolour the mounting.
A jeweller should check the ring once a year for loose stones and wear of the mounting. He can also clean the ring professionally
B. Cleaning your antique jewellery.
Once you have selected your piece of jewellery it is necessary to take good care in order to make it last a lifetime. Although nature invests millions of years of heat and pressure to crystallise a single diamond it is still imperative to take constant care in order to keep them at their brilliant best. A clean stone not only reflects light better, but actually looks bigger than one that’s been dulled by skin oils and cosmetics. To keep their fire at its brightest set jewellery should be cleaned once a month. Use one of the following methods:
Please note that:
Foiled-back set stones should never be immersed in any liquid.
Organic materials can only be immersed in luke warm water and certainly not alcohol and acids.
In most cases (even for organic materials), you can use one of the following methods, but be on the safe side and check with your expert.
- The Detergent Bath. Prepare a small bowl of warm sudsy water with any of the mild liquid detergents used at home. Brush the pieces with a small soft brush, for instance a toothbrush, while they are in the suds, then rinse under warm running water. Pat dry with a soft lint free cloth.
- The Cold Water Soak : Soak the jewellery in a half and half solution of cold water and household ammonia for 30 minutes. Lift out and gently tap around the front and back of the mounting with a small soft brush. Swish in the solution a second time, rinse and drain on tissue paper.
- The Quick Dip Method : Buy one of the brand name liquid Jewellery cleaning kits now available in the market and follow the instructions.
One of the main advantages of collecting antique jewellery, as opposed to other works of art, is in fact that it can still be worn, and so put to its original use of decorating and complimenting fashion and beauty. some people enjoy collecting jewels for historical and academic interest, but it is also a fascinating challenge to choose jewels from a past age which will still flatter modern clothes and, at the same time, add the inimitable touch of old charm, a glimpse of another society, remote in customs, values, beliefs.
Top quality antique gold Russian articulated bracelet with seven high domed malachite stones elements pierced with floral patterns, gold balls, stars and seven seed pearls. Moving parts are invisible with fine gold wire work. The bracelet closes perfectly with a gold closure and a security chain.
E. Vernier is a famous French medaillist, that was one of the foremen of the revival of the medaillist art in France around 1886. He was also a collaborator of Falize (other famous French jeweller) and awarded the prestigious “Medal of Honor at the Salon”.
A similar pin is depicted in the famous “jewelry bible” by Henri Vever “French Jewelry of the Nineteenth Century” in the English translation on page 1048.