Dating your vintage costume jewelry is all about being a good detective. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
Vintage Advertising and Magazines
Old magazines are full of vintage jewelry advertisements. These advertisements are a great way to tell the age of your jewelry as all magazines are dated. You can search old archives for magazines.
1956 Jewelry Magazine Ad - Renoir
Some pieces of jewelry bear a registered patent number which can be researched to determine the registration date.
Google's has a new tool called "Google Patents" which contains a searchable data base of all US patents registered from 1790 to 2006.
Designers found that Patents were becoming quite expensive and turned to Copyright registrations to protect their designs. Sometime during 1956 this had become the norm. This is an easy benchmark to use in dating jewelry as the presence of a Copyright mark will always date a piece to 1956 or later.
Designer and Makers Marks
Knowing how a piece was signed or marked by a designer or manufacturer during specific years may help you date a signed piece of vintage costume jewelry.
eg.: Gustave Sherman, Canadian jewelry designer, used an oval nameplate in the 1950s to mark his jewelry, but switched to a square cartouche in the
Not all jewelry will be marked. Knowing what styles were popular throughout the years will then be most helpful. Jewelry styles have changed in accordance with changes in clothing and hairstyles.
1920s -1930s - flapper style long necklaces, bold cocktail rings, angular and symmetrical designs
1940s - sophisticated and large Hollywood style bows and floral motifs, patriotic wartime jewelry
1950s - very co-ordinated faux pearl, beaded and rhinestone necklace and earring sets, abstract modernist designs
Revival pieces are often a
re-interpretaion of a style from an earlier period and the trained and eye will detect the
difference. One must learn to identify the revival period
pieces from original period pieces.
The excavation of Egyptian tombs in the 1870's inspired an extreme fascination with Egyptian symbols. This fascination inspired the creation of "Egyptian Revival" jewelry which featured sphinxes, scarab beetles and other Egyptian designs.
The style was "revived"
in the '20's and '30's after the unearthing of King Tutankahmen's tomb
and again in the '50's after Elizabeth Taylor's portrayal of Cleopatra
and yet again in the '70's during the King Tutankahmen's world tour.
Victorian revival pieces became popular in the 1930's and again in the
'50's. While similar in design, these revival pieces lack the
detailed craftsmanship of original period pieces.
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Vintage and Antique Jewelry Research Information