Monday, November 16, 2015

Pair Of Silver Pendant Earrings From Southern China

This fine pair of pendant earrings is with phoenix motifs and a multitude of silver chime-like tassels are suspended from each of the lower panels.

Such earrings were popular among merchant classes in southern China during the later Qing Dynasty, in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

During the Communist era, such jewellery appears to have been collected by the authorities and held centrally, and then in the 1970s, the Beijing government eager to earn foreign exchange decided to sell off its holdings of such jewellery to Western dealers, often by the kilogram. The jewellery poured out of China, mostly to the United States. Such jewellery has now become much more scarce.

The earrings are in a fine, stable and wearable condition.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Thursday, November 5, 2015

How To Tell Quality Antique Or Vintage Jewellery From Junk

Choosing antique or vintage jewellery does not have to be a hit or miss purchase. There are several simple things to remember when you are shopping for a quality piece of antique or vintage frippery or finery.

In this guide, I'm going to share what I have learned about shopping for pieces that will fit, suit you, be a beautiful start or addition to your collection and last you for many years.

RULE # 1 Just because a piece of jewellery is older, or used, does not make it vintage. Remember that nothing produced or crafted after 1989 is vintage jewelry. Its just used. There are many classifications for the age of jewellery, under the category of vintage. You have newer vintage (retro vintage) and older vintage (art deco, art nouveau, modernist) and everything in between. Please remember that if it contains new design, such as electroplating, to ask your seller for an approximate age if it is not already provided. Make sure you are getting a 1989 or earlier item.

RULE # 2 Just because it looks really really old, does not make it worth a lot of money. You want to look for several things when you are choosing a piece, before you spend a large amount on it. Look for these attributes, and you will get a very nice item.
*FUNCTIONALITY: Do all the clasps work? Are they firm and do they hold well? Are there bends and kinks in the chain that might break?
*WEIGHT: Is the piece a solid weight for its size (large light pieces are not as valuable as smaller heavy pieces) and material.
*CRAFTING: Is your plastic item seamless? (seamless plastic = better quality) Are the rhinestones in the item prong set or glued? (prong set is nicer, lasts longer, holds through chemical cleaning while glue may not)
*PLATING: Is the gold or silver plating intact or is there a lot of wear? Can you see the bare metal under the plating? Is it silver or gold plated, or silver or gold toned? (silver plating is more durable than silver toned)
*STONE CLARITY: are the stones grey or yellow when they are supposed to be white or clear? (that is a sign that the stones have lost their luster and have therefore lost some value. Not all, but some) Are the stones smooth and shiny, or scratched and dull? Are they the original stones, or have they been replaced with stones that almost match?

Rule #3 Most vintage jewelry is not marked with a size. If the size is not noted, make sure to ask, and do not settle for S, M, L, XL if it can be measured in inches. For bangles and cuffs and rings, ask for either a general fit or a circumference, if the seller does not have a sizer. For a link bracelet, necklace, or chain bracelet with clasp, ask for the length of the bracelet with the clasp closed.

Rule #4 Do not assume that all marked, hallmarked and signed jewelry is equal. Know your crafters and designers. Research their work and craftsmanship and value if you really want to find true treasures. Also remember that some unsigned pieces are treasures that the maker did not take proper credit for. An unsigned, crafted quality material brooch may be worth much more than a simple run of the mill mass produced marked brooch.

If you are looking for a quality, valuable piece of vintage jewellery, keep these things in mind. They will help guide you in choosing a good piece.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Antique Japanese Coral Brooch

Coral is one of several so-called “organic gemstones”, the other main ones being pearls and amber. Made out of calcium carbonate (as are pearls) that’s secreted by organisms known as polyps, coral is mostly found in tropical oceans, where colonies of polyps are jammed together to create reefs.

The coral of most interest to jewelers is called precious or noble coral, Corallium rubrum, which ranges in color from dark red to pale rose and “grows” in branched deposits. Precious coral is harvested almost exclusively in the Mediterranean off the coasts of Italy, France, Spain, Algeria and Tunisia. Other types or coral are pulled from the waters off Malaysia and Japan, Australia and Africa, and numerous Pacific isles.

Thought by the Romans to protect children, today many people are wondering if coral itself needs to be protected. Coral reefs are among the most threatened ecosystems on the planet, dying off at an alarming rate. Pollution along the coast caused by run-off into the world’s oceans is the biggest killer of coral, followed by damage caused by the fisherman.

Still, the perception that the jewelry industry may also be contributing to the problem makes coral an unpopular material for many people. Indeed, Hawaiian black coral, which is not made of calcium carbonate, is already protected, and movements are afoot to ban the harvesting of red and pink varieties, the ones most common to fine jewelry.

What’s made coral attractive to jewelers for so many centuries has been its seemingly inexhaustible supply; its relative softness, which lends itself to elaborate carvings such as intricate cameos; and the way it can be polished to a glossy, lustrous finish. Coral is often fashioned into round, barrel-shaped, or oblong beads, as well as show-stopping cabochons in necklaces and rings. Sometimes coral is left in its natural state, as when tiny branches are strung together to form a bracelet or pair of earrings.

Like turquoise, much of the coral on the market today is artificial. To spot the real thing, look for white flecks and patches on and inside the gem’s surface. If a blood-red piece of coral has no such irregularities and its price seems too good to be true, then it’s probably synthetic.

Pictures below show a beautiful coral brooch carved representing fruits (pomegranates) and foliage, with a silver brooch fitting which I bought in one of Tokyo's flea markets.

Size : 2.5cm x 5cm

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3