Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dating Costume Jewelry - Six Methods

Dating Costume Jewelry Can Be Quite a Task

Collectors of Vintage jewelry know that one of the most daunting tasks is dating a piece.  No one method will give results for all pieces, but there are six commonly used techniques.

  • Signatures.  This signature on a vintage jewelry piece will offer valuable clues to dating it.  Many designers of vintage jewelry only made pieces during a certain time period.
  • Copyright symbol.    Many jewelry designers applied for patents for their pieces to keep them from getting copied.  Both signature marks and actual designs were patented.  A study of patents will give exact dates if the designs were copyrighted themselves.
  • Signature Variations.  Most designers used a variety of signatures on their pieces over the years.  A good knowledge of the progression of these signatures can help pinpoint a design within a long time period.
  • Dating by style.  Vintage jewelry is like any other fashion style.  It has certain characteristics which were trendy at various time points during the 1935 to 1980 span, which is considered vintage.  Many vintage jewelry advertisements were used during this time.  Locating an ad for your piece or one like it will give an approximate age of the piece.
  • Resource books.  If you are serious about collecting vintage jewelry, it will help to have a library of resource material. 
  • Dating from the original source.  Provenance is defined as the original source.  In vintage jewelry terms, this would mean dating a piece with information obtained from the original owner of it.  If you are lucky enough to purchase an estate from the original owner, you may be able to get a lot of information about when it was originally purchased.  How lucky that would be.
Have you discovered other methods for dating vintage jewelry?  I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating article. I have several 'vintage' pieces handed down to me through our family, but I have never tried to discover tried dating the pieces. It may be time to take a little closer look.