Behold that gorgeous antique brooch you've been staring at during the last few days on the internet! It's obviously Art Nouveau... is it not?
It's very difficult to distinguish from the genuine antique jewellery piece and a good reproduction. Here are a few tips that you ought to bear in mind before you shop and pay for what you believe is really a Victorian bit of jewellery only to discover that it is clever reproduction.
Having the ability to find out the findings that are connected to the jewellery for function instead of design may also be a good way to determine age, although findings can frequently have been altered at a later date. A few examples of "findings" would be the hinges, clasps and catches on the piece. The Victorian times featured tube hinges until a far more streamlined design has been around since the later part of the era. Other kinds of hinges such as roll over, C shaped and safety pin types evolved over the years. A lobster catch won't be on a bit of authentic antique jewellery.
The colours and metals changed in fashion over time. The art deco period featured bright primary colours as the Victorian era did not. Being able to identify the cut of the stone and also the type of stone within the piece will also assist in dating the piece. Modern brilliant cut diamonds, for instance, weren't brought to the market until the early Twentieth century.
Aluminium, platinum, pot metal and copper have been the most popular metals within the 20th century. White gold for example, although first introduced in the turn from the 1900s, wasn't in wide circulation until about 1920 if this was used like a cheaper option to platinum. As another example, 15 carat gold was a British Empire defacto standard until it was discontinued in 1932 also it was widely used in Victorian jewellery.
But often in Victorian times there was more emphasis on the workmanship and beauty from the item than you are on the quality of materials used. Pinchbeck for instance, an alloy of zinc and copper, was a respectable alternative to gold within the Victorian times but is commonly found at the cheaper end from the market today when so much importance is placed on jewellery being made from gold or platinum.
Feeling the load of the piece will also help identify its age but, if you are buying online, ask the vendor just how much it weighs. A brooch in the Victorian times look a lot heavier than a single which was reproduced recently but often a large piece was made reasonably light so that it didn't pull around the wearer's clothing. Check and to see if jewels are glued in and when the piece is hand made or the product of the mould.
A registration mark on a piece provides you with a precise time frame as will hallmarks. A makers mark or label is another step in identification. There are plenty of guides and forums available online to help identify hallmarks.