Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today's Vintage Jewelry Word - Finding

When a vintage jewelry seller describes a part of the jewelry piece by saying that it has "findings" of a certain style, are you clueless as to what they mean? Never fear - this article should answer your questions.

The term finding is a generic word that encompasses all of the various items that make up a piece of jewelry. Sometimes the term is used to refer to clasps, or pin backs, or earring backs. At other times, the word refers to the blanks that make up a piece of jewelry, such as a holder for a cameo cabochon, or a piece of metal which is then cast into a brooch or pendant. (These latter pieces are more correctly termed blanks, since they are a holder but the actual piece is blank - waiting for a finish of some sort, whether it be engraving or some other metal technique.)

The term finding is very generic. A finding can be a small metal tag which would have been used for the designer marking, or a bezel mounting which holds a cabochon. It can be the clasp of a necklace or bracelet or the piece of metal which holds the rows of a multi strand jewelry design.

If you collect or resell vintage jewelry, a good knowledge of vintage jewelry findings is important because it can enable you to determine the age of a piece more accurately. For instance, the locking style of C clasp was invented in 1901, so any piece with this type of clasp would have to have been made after that date. Pierced earrings with a threaded screw back for the post were common about 1880, so if your earrings are this style, it might indicate that you have an older piece of jewelry.

Since all types of findings have been used in the production of jewelry for centuries, knowing the difference between the various types can be important. Modern jewelry findings are readily available and can be purchased from many retail stores and businesses online. But this is not the case with vintage findings.

Getting true vintage findings can be quite a daunting task. Many people who repair or remake jewelry will often buy up old collections of broken jewelry and search through them just to harvest just the findings, so that they will have them to use on their next repair or remodeling job. This will insure that the age of the piece is preserved.

Here are some examples of findings of the types that may have been used in vintage jewelry:

Findings photographs courtesy of B'sue Boutiques


  1. I love your site and check in everyday and I love vintage jewelry. I recently picked up a gorgeous 14k solid gold flower pin with an aquamarine gem center. It doesn't have a maker's mark and I've been trying to date it and I thought maybe you could help. It looks art deco in style and the main thing that should help to date it is the clasp. It's a very delicate c clasp with a tiny latch over the top of the c. I've tried to take a pic of it but can't get it close enough to come out in focus. I can try again when I get home from work if that would help more. I was wondering if that type of clasp was only made during a specific time that might be able to date it.

  2. Hi Angie,

    Thank you for the kind words. You can send me a picture of the clasp (just click the link in the blue section of the right side bar that says email me.

    To get a close up use the macro lens on your camera (it will show in the view finder as a little tulip when you press the correct button.}

    I might be able to give you some info once I see the clasp. Early clasps have a definite look to them.




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