When I pick up a piece of vintage jewellery maybe a brooch, I almost immediately turn it over. Quite a few times the seller has commented “Its not gold or silver”.
For me this is annoying as that is not what I am looking for.
Gold and silver do not particularly interest me and more often than not I can distinguish fine jewellery at a glance before handling.
So what am I looking for:
First I am looking to make sure the brooch pin or back of the jewellery is intact and not broken/damaged.
Then I am looking to see if there is a signature. With familiarity to various signed vintage costume jewellery pieces, I can now identify who the company or manufacturer is at first look for many pieces, without picking it up and looking at the back. So when you have a spare few minutes take a trip through the vintage jewellery websites and look at the photographs and companies.
If there is no signature – the jewellery’s construction and the findings used can give valuable clues to dating. But more of that in a later article.
Back to the signature. Look at the wording can give valuable clues to dates.
First the name – Exquisite produced jewellery from 1914 until the late 1970s but their signature did not appear until after 1953 (confirmed information from an employer who made the jewellery’s molds) So any Exquisite jewellery with a signature dates to after 1953 to about 1979. Probably more accurately from 1956 but to be confirmed still.
Look up the company to see when they were in production, will give a time span to work on. Most information is available now on the internet and you may be lucky to find when the jewellery was actually patented.
The copy right symbol – the c in a circle mark means it was made after 1955. This was because Trifari won a lawsuit in that year, and everyone followed suit of copy right their designs rather than patenting them.
How is the signature presented – in script, abbreviated, block letters, large capital letter for the first letter of the name then small letters. This can also help to date. Again there are many websites and Yahoo groups that can help. Exquisite, Miracle and Kenneth Lane are just a few that changed their signature and this can date them to when that type of signature was in use.
Pat pending and design numbers are also clues. Pat pending dates to before 1955. Again many sites have lists of patents. Boucher and Sphinx are two companies that used numbers for their designs. With or without the name signature.
So just looking at a signature on a plaque or cartouche can give you many opportunities for dating your vintage jewellery