Behold that gorgeous antique brooch you've been looking at during the last few days on the internet! It's obviously Art Nouveau... is it not?
It's very difficult to distinguish from a genuine antique jewellery piece and a good reproduction. Here are some key points that you should bear in mind before you decide to shop and pay for what you think is a Victorian bit of jewellery only to find out that it is clever reproduction.
Having the ability to find out the findings that are attached to the jewellery for function instead of design is sometimes a good way to determine age, although findings can often have been altered later on. Some examples of "findings" are the hinges, clasps and catches around the piece. The Victorian times featured tube hinges until a more streamlined design has been around since the later part of the era. Other types of hinges for example roll over, C shaped and safety pin types evolved over the years. A lobster catch won't be on a piece of authentic antique jewellery.
The colours and metals changed in fashion through the years. The skill deco period featured bright primary colours as the Victorian era didn't. Having the ability to identify the cut of the stone and the type of stone in the piece will even assist in dating the piece. Modern brilliant cut diamonds, for instance, were not brought to the marketplace before the early Twentieth century.
Aluminium, platinum, pot metal and copper happen to be the most popular metals in the Twentieth century. White gold or platinum for instance, although first introduced in the turn of the 1900s, wasn't in wide circulation until about 1920 when it was utilized as a cheaper alternative to platinum. As another example, 15 carat gold was a British Empire defacto standard until it had been discontinued in 1932 also it was widely used in Victorian jewellery.
But often in Victorian times there is more focus on the workmanship and sweetness from the item than you are on the quality of materials used. Pinchbeck for example, an alloy of zinc and copper, would be a respectable alternative to gold in the Victorian era but is commonly found at the cheaper end of the market today when so much importance is placed on jewellery being made of gold or platinum.
Feeling the weight of the piece will also help identify wear and tear but, if you are buying online, ask the seller just how much it weighs. A brooch from the Victorian era look a lot heavier than one which was reproduced in recent years but normally a large piece is made reasonably light so that it didn't pull on the wearer's clothing. Check also to find out if jewels are glued in and when the piece is hand made or the product of the mould.
A registration mark on a piece will give you an accurate time period as will hallmarks. A makers mark or label is yet another part of identification. There are plenty of guides and forums available online to assist identify hallmarks.