Dating antique jewellery
A piece of jewelry with an etching that reads “18k” or “750” indicates that it is made up of 75 percent gold, while a “14k” or “585” mark indicates the metal is constructed with 58.5 percent gold.
Jewelry from Van Cleef & Arpels will also include a serial number accompanying the brand trademark, and depending on the era of the piece, the maker’s mark can either read “Van Cleef & Arpels” or “VCA.” Aside from purity and maker’s marks, some jewelry will also have symbols and letters, particularly hallmarks, inscribed on it.Purity marks on gold jewelry will consist of a two-digit number followed by the letter “k,” or a three-digit number.The letter “k” refers to karats, where pure gold is composed of 24 karats (24k).collections created by designers Frank Gehry, Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger, and Elsa Peretti also feature the designers’ signatures on the jewelry.With antique and vintage pieces, French brand Cartier had to adhere to several guidelines set forth by the French government.Retro jewelry refers to pieces made during the 1940s and 1950s and are characterized by the use of large and colorful gemstones.
In the United States, the National Gold and Silver Stamping Act of 1906 required jewelers to include an accurate purity mark, which indicates the materials used in a given work.
Silver purity marks also specify metal content where sterling silver is 92.5 percent pure silver.
Therefore, for sterling silver, look for marks that include “925,” “STERLING,” “STG,” or “STER.” Watch out for metals that are etched with “German Silver” or “Nickel Silver”- these pieces are not made up of any silver at all, but are actually composed of copper, nickel, and zinc.
Starting in 1838, an eagle’s head on a piece of gold jewelry indicated that the jewelry was from France and that it had a minimum of 18k gold.
Additionally, a boar’s head was the mark of the Paris assay office, while offices outside the capital city used a crab emblem.
Auction houses in particular are important resources for learning more about jewelry marks.