How to identify genuine antique jewellery

found in: Antique Buyers Top Tips

Knowledge is key in order to protect the public

I am often asked how to identify a piece of antique jewellery. In the UK a genuine antique is an item that is over 100 years old, in its original condition and form and without any additions or alterations at a later date. It has to be an original and not in the style of. However, in the USA it is different, for an item to qualify as an antique it only has to be over 50 years old.

To add to the confusion, many pieces of 18th and 19th century jewellery have been broken up, the valuable stones removed and then used to create a more modern piece of jewellery in the old style, copying the original setting. This does not qualify as an antique.

However, in the USA it is different, for an item to qualify as an antique it only has to be over 50 years old.

Antique Gold and Painted Crystal Cufflinks of Game Birds in Flight, English circa 1900 £3,500

Conversely if the setting is original but a valuable original stone or cluster has been removed and replaced with a more modern stone or cluster of lesser value and importance, then once again, the item is not in its original condition and form so does not qualify as an antique.

In these circumstances a knowledgeable eye is needed to identify the age of the item of jewellery and whether the item is original or not. Over the years I have been on numerous vetting committees for various London antique fairs to assess the quality of items and there have been many occasions where items were removed due to the jewellery being incorrect in some way or another.

My breadth of knowledge stems from being in the jewellery trade for 40 years beginning many moons ago when my brother and I joined my Father in the family business. My Father was extremely knowledgeable, an excellent teacher and a great story teller….but that will have to wait until next time!

I hope this has been of help to you but if you would like to ask any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.