Mrs. Beadsley’s Jewel Box: Look At The Markings

Mrs. Beadsley Vintage Jewelry

This month I’d like to discuss the importance of markings on vintage jewelry. I talk to many people who own, collect and use vintage jewelry in their craft and jewelry making endeavors.

I ask them what markings they find on this jewelry and they tell me they never thought to look for markings. The markings you find on old jewelry can reveal much, such as where the piece was made, when it was created, the artist or company that made it and the metal content.

To find the markings on an old piece of jewelry generally requires a loupe or magnifying glass as the markings can be very small. Markings can be almost anywhere: on the clip of vintage earrings, on the back of a brooch as well as on the pin stem, on the back or bail of a pendant, on the inside or outside of rings and a myriad of other places. Sometimes, due to age and wear, markings can be worn and magnification can be helpful in reading what they say.

What do you see when you find markings? Gold and silver markings are very important in determining the value of a piece of jewelry and are found on most pieces made with fine metals. A couple of companies actually put the date of manufacture on their pieces. Sometimes the country of manufacture is on a piece such as “Italy” on mosaic jewelry as well as the clasp on strands of Venetian and Murano glass beads, artist made jewelry may be signed with their name and the name of the company that made the item. Company names make it very easy to google a name and get information about their jewelry, when it was made and the designer(s) who worked at the company.

By browsing the “Sold” listings on Ebay it is then possible to find pieces that are similar and determine the value of a piece of old jewelry. This may seem like a lot of work but it’s really worth the time. It’s great to know the history of a piece of jewelry but it’s even more important to know what the piece is worth. This is so true if you use vintage jewelry for crafts and for making new jewelry. Imagine that you cut off the clasp of a brooch or the clips on a pair of earrings only to find that you just ruined a rare and valuable piece of vintage jewelry!

If you are a collector, your new knowledge is important in placing a value on your collection as well as insuring your pieces adequately. If you are a jewelry maker and recycle vintage pieces into your work you might consider selling the valuable piece and using the proceeds to buy other vintage jewelry that is not so valuable to use in your work.

 I am always happy to help you identify your old jewelry if you haven’t the time or interest in doing the research. I have many years of experience in identifying collectible vintage jewelry and I really love learning more. Just come by the shop and show me your treasures.

Mrs. Beadsley now has a pro to restore your old pearl necklaces. She does a perfect job of re-knotting pearls as well as other beaded necklaces. Her work is extremely reasonable and she is a serious perfectionist. I feel lucky to have her. I myself do basic re-stringing as well as rhinestone replacement and many other repairs at very reasonable prices.

Debra Lowenstein is the proprietor of Mrs. Beadsley Vintage Jewelry The shop is at 2101 Trinity Dr. Suite G. Mrs. Beadsley is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Contact her at 505.795.6395.

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