How do you know how old that is?

Victorian locket

Victorian locket

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

Large band Victorian gold ring rose cut diamonds 1840-1850

Here is a fine craftsmanship antique ring in gold considered to be of the Romantic Victorian Period with a large comfortable band featuring nine rose cut diamonds set in marquise shape; the rose cuts are set on foil, this is a special technique that was used to bring the lustre of the diamonds to its best quality. The ring presents elegant floral patterns and one small golden ball on each side of the setting.

The jewel is made of silver on top and backed with 18kt red gold; this technique finds its origin centuries ago, when jewelers believed that only a silver mounting could render the true beauty of a diamond. Backing the silver jewel with a (thin) layer of gold was a practical precaution taken to avoid the silver jewelry leaving black stains on clothing or skin.

During the 1840s, while the young Queen Victoria’s influence on jewel fashions was emerging, patterns for gold-work very much revolved around the natural world. These motifs suited feminine delicacy and the purely ornamental woman. In this era of peace and prosperity, wealth was displayed in jewels and especially in a sumptuous spread of gold, rich scrolls, pierced, strap-work, or gold twigs twisted and entwined with foliage.

Victorian decorative arts refers to the style of decorative arts during the Victorian era. The Victorian era is known for its eclectic revival and interpretation of historic styles and the introduction of cross-cultural influences from the middle east and Asia in furniture, fittings, and Interior decoration. Victorian design is widely viewed as having indulged in a regrettable excess of ornament. The Arts and Crafts movement, the aesthetic movement, Anglo-Japanese style, and Art Nouveau style have their beginnings in the late Victorian era.

Antique rose cut diamonds ring Ref.11035-0021

diamonds, silver, 18kt red gold

date: 1840-1850

origin: most probably Belgium

top of ring: 1.20 cm (0.47 inch) x 1.60 cm (0.63 inch)

weight: 6.50 grams

Size: US 7½

Antique Victorian engagement ring opal diamonds

Antique Victorian engagement ring opal diamonds
Antique Victorian engagement ring opal diamonds Antique Victorian engagement ring opal diamonds Antique Victorian engagement ring opal diamonds Antique Victorian engagement ring opal diamonds Antique Victorian engagement ring opal diamonds

This rare and elegant ring, Circa 1880s, is made of 14 high Carat yellow gold. The ring is set with one beautiful quality opal with 14 old brilliant cut diamonds with a total weight of 1.50 Carats. The top of the ring measures 16.4 mm (0.65 inch) x 13.3 mm (0.52 inch). The ring weighs 3.50 Grams and the finger US size is 7½. It is our pleasure to resize the ring for you at our expense. From our expertise, this ring is in excellent condition and fine quality. Delivered with its authenticity certificate.

See more antique jewelry suggestions:

See more antique engagement rings:

Antique Flowery Round Pendant : Genuine Rose Diamonds & Morning Dew


Gorgeous Antique Flowery Round Pendant : Genuine Rose Diamonds &  Morning Dew

Gorgeous Antique Flowery Round Pendant : Genuine Rose Diamonds & Morning Dew


Gorgeous antique round pendant covered with diamonds with delicate floral and curly motifs. A diamonds flower holds in its center a natural red ruby showcased by genuine diamonds in motion. Sensation of coolness emanates from this piece of jewelry : in the background, a stylized spider web is covered with diamonds and gives the effect of a morning dew and drops of water.

We see one old mine brilliant cut diamond with an estimated weight of .10 Carats and 57 rose cut diamonds. We do not have the weight of the diamonds which is normal in our trade when it comes to rose cuts. From our expert, this pendant was made around 1870s with silver on top and backed with 18 high Carat rose gold. This is a typical Victorian jewelry.

Although it carries a typical French control mark representing an owl, we cannot be sure it is actually French as the owl was also used for items in finished condition that were brought to be examined by the French Assay office (the eagle’s head was used for items brought in unfinished).

The diameter measures 27.5 mm (1.08 inch) and weighs 8.90 grams. From our expertise, the antique condition is excellent which means we cannot see any trace of wear even when looking very close.

Delivered with its authenticity certificate.

… un matin de printemps …

Antique Navette Shaped Ring : Victorian Snakes & Genuine Diamonds

Antique Snakes Ring

Antique Snakes Ring

Through Victorian era, people wanted to express their feelings through strong and powerful symbols. This ring is a typical example of this period : the snake, as a symbol of fidelity. Four intertwined stylized snakes or serpents enclose elegantly a shaped navette showcasing 9 red natural rubies, 4 genuine rose cut diamonds set in curvy lines.

A lot can be said about snakes and serpents. They have been worshipped since the Dark Ages and are a powerful religious symbol with many different meanings, like death and resurrection, while they have also been associated with healing and rivergods and also denote fertility, wisdom and the ability to cure.

The ring is entirely made of 18 high Carat yellow gold and a hallmark is visible in the inside band “18” indicating 18K gold. It weighs 3.70 grams. The lenght of the top measures 23.8 mm (0.94 inch). The US finger size is 10 and we are happy to resize it for free.

From our expert, this ring is dated around 1900 and the antique condition is excellent, there are no trace of wear nor defects even looking closely.