If you are deciding to buy antique jewelry pieces as gifts over the holiday period, here are some general guidelines for the buyer. For any purchase it is always good to do your 'homework' and 'due diligence', as the general rule of 'Caveat Emptor' buyer beware still applies today as much as it ever did.
1/ Vintage 18 Karat Gold, Natural Burma Ruby & Diamond Tortoise Brooch, Circa 1950
When purchasing Antique and Vintage jewelry it is important to have a basic knowledge of gemstones, for which some equipment is necessary, and can be purchased for a modest budget. This small outlay when purchasing antique jewelry pieces, can end up paying for itself by avoiding costly mistakes.
2/ Antique 18 Karat Gold, Ruby, Diamond & Enamel Scarab Brooch, Circa 1910
When looking for Vintage jewelry, if one buys nothing else a 'Jeweler's loupe' is absolutely vital; this is pocket lens with a x10 power of magnification. This particular magnification is preferred, since at this power it can detect the presence of flaws in diamond, and inclusions in the gemstones set in Antique jewelry pieces. The lens should also by preference be 'achromatic' (colors are unchanged, when viewed through the lens) and aplantic (corrected for linear distortion). The x10 magnification is also a good strength to study the mounts and settings of Vintage jewelry pieces to determine how they have withstood the test of wear and tear over time. These lenses should be available for between $30 -$50.
3/ Antique 18 Karat Gold, Diamond & Spinel Heart Pendant, Circa 1890
For the enthusiast who wants to study the gemstones in their antique jewelry pieces a microscope is vital where higher magnification is required, although a power beyond x40 is rarely required. For this a simple school laboratory instrument can serve the purpose. Also required a separate light source, which can be focused or transmitted by a fiberoptic, and can prove to be invaluable. These items can all be purchased very reasonably on ebay.
4/ Vintage 18 Karat Gold & Diamond Bracelet, Circa 1950
Once you have your pocket lens, and you are heading out to look for the perfect antique jewelry piece, there is a basic check list of things to look out for. And here are some principles of valuation if your antique piece contains diamonds. Now diamonds are unique, in unlike other stones they are valued for their absence of color. Very few diamonds, however, have a complete lack of color, with many displaying a tinge of yellow or brown. Those that are colorless are called 'white', yet even this term is open to degree, where the lack of color of diamonds can be graded, usually by close comparison to a set of master stones. This is where your 'loupe' will be invaluable as it highlights the color and enables the buyer to make their own judgement before purchasing a piece of antique jewelry. At Beverley R Jewelry, we carry a range of antique and vintage cocktail and diamond engagement rings, where all our diamonds are 'G' color or better, which is a grade that means they are pure white, and do not display any tints of color. Just something to remember, especially when it comes to antique diamond engagement rings; very often the hand the ring is on will be held up for a closer inspection by friends and relatives and to impress should be as white and bright as possible, whereas it is highly unlikely if you are purchasing vintage diamond earrings, that an ear lobe will be scrutinized to the same degree. Here at Beverley R Jewelry, we have a large selection of antique and vintage diamond earrings, both for everyday wear, day and night wear, which can be dressed up or down, or purely for the special black-tie event.
5/ Art Deco Sapphire & Diamond Cluster, Engagement Ring, Circa 1930
Again, when it comes to diamonds, the 'loupe' is vital for checking the inclusions within the stones, which are normally little black spots, or white cloudy feathers. Obviously, the less inclusion the better, and at Beverley R Jewelry, we pride ourselves on having very 'clean' diamonds, on all our Antique and Vintage Jewelry pieces.
When it comes to colored gemstones, of which Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald are the most valuable, again when looking at Antique pieces of jewelry, the less inclusion you see the better, and the one thing to avoid completely is when you see an inclusion coming to the surface of the gemstone in the vintage piece of jewelry you are looking at, as this means there is a fault line, and if you catch the gemstone on a hard surface it could very easily shatter. However, unless a gemstone has a laboratory report on it, I personally like to see a very little inclusion, just to confirm that I am looking at a natural gemstone, in the vintage jewelry piece.
6/ Antique 18 Karat Gold, Enamel & Diamond Ribbon Bow Brooch, Circa 1890
When it comes to the mounting on Antique, Vintage & Estate pieces of jewelry, the x10 magnification, should reveal how well the stones are set, and if there is any damage to the mountings. Again, for the Antique and Vintage Jewelry, the less 'wear and tear' the better, but again, for me I like to see some signs of usage, because unless the piece of jewelry has been in a safe or vault, and the piece is in 'perfect condition' my suspicion would be that the so-called antique piece, could in fact be a modern reproduction.
7/ Vintage 18 Karat Gold & Diamond Bow Collar Necklace, Circa 1940
At Beverley R Jewelry in downtown Chicago all our Antique & Vintage Jewelry is very carefully inspected before purchase to make sure our customers, receive top grade diamonds and gemstones, in high quality secure mounts, which have stood the test of time. We have a large selection of antique engagement rings and dress rings, in yellow gold and platinum from the Victorian, Edwardian & Art Deco, along with a large selection of other vintage jewelry pieces, which would make the perfect gift for that someone special, over the Holiday periods.