Antique rhinestone brooches have been a classic look for many years. The fact that they are antique does make them more valuable than just a contemporary rhinestone brooch, as long as they have certain qualities. These brooches can be found at antique shops and online outlets, such as eBay. There are many rhinestone brooches on the market that may look antique but are not. Companies copy some of the unique qualities so that the broaches look as if they are older than they actually are.
These copies are relatively easy to find and many times do not have the same craftsmanship, materials, and signatures as true antique rhinestone brooches. When shopping for a true antique rhinestone brooch, there are several things a buyer has to look for to make sure they are not buying a modern brooch that is made to look antique. Some things to look for in an antique rhinestone brooch are logo or brand stamps, the wear on a brooch, the materials from which they are made, signs of age on the back of the piece, and the overall quality of craftsmanship.
Logos and Brand Stamps on Antique Rhinestone Brooches
Years ago when rhinestone jewellery was the newest and latest fashion accessory, most craftsman who made them marked their work. These marks are called hallmarks, signatures, or brands. Identifying a real antique rhinestone brooch from a fake can be as simple as looking for one of these signatures. There are books of well-known hallmarks and logos available to help with this identification. This is not to say that all antique pieces have a brand or hallmark, but many of the high-end pieces do. Chanel imprints its CC on a piece that they have made. WEISS and several other designers print their name on the backs of their pieces.
The logo or brand stamp is usually visible near the very top or bottom of the back of a brooch. It may be extremely small, so a jeweller's loupe may be needed to see it. Many online retailers of true antique jewellery include a picture or representation of the hallmark, brand stamp, or logo of the maker for authentication purposes. If there is no mark indicating by whom the brooch was made, other criteria must be used to ascertain whether or not the rhinestone brooch is a reproduction or an actual antique.
Wear on the Brooch
Although wear can sometimes be reproduced, true wear is fairly easy to identify. When looking at a brooch, take a close look at the rhinestones, themselves. They should look solid with a foil backing. Often the foil may be damaged or worn but the back is foil, and not metal or metal coating. The clasp or pin should show the same signs of wear as the rest of the brooch. Nothing on it should look particularly new; although some antique pieces have been professionally cleaned, there should be scrapes and signs of repeated use on the clasp, pin, or back of the brooch. Of course, nothing broken or too worn is desirable, but it should show signs of age and use. The front of the brooch should show signs of wear as well but should not be obviously repaired. Many antique brooches are ruined by a sloppy or unprofessional repair. Unfortunately, this puts them into the same category as their mass-produced counterparts.
While they do not have any stones missing or broken pieces, unless a repair is done correctly, the effort is wasted. This is often the easiest way to spot a brooch that is not as valuable as an original. Depending on the type of repair, the appearance of poor workmanship could be an issue when judging whether or not the brooch is a true antique. Some repairs are done to mask the fact that a brooch is a reproduction piece, rather than a true antique brooch. Some less reputable dealers replace a backing or a clasp to mask the signs of a new or reproduction rhinestone brooch.
Antique vs. Modern Rhinestone Brooch Backings
When looking at the back of a brooch, make sure the backing is smooth, and also shows some signs of age. It is rare that an antique rhinestone brooch is, in fact, antique and kept in pristine condition. The wear should not be too much because it ruins a brooch's value, but there should be light scrapes and slightly worn flat metal.
Another good sign that a rhinestone brooch is an antique, is the back of the brooch itself. The back should be smooth and not pressed or textured metal. Manufacturers did not begin making patterned metal until the later part of the 20th century. The metal should have a poured smoothness to it without texture or design, except for the brooch's logo. A good way to judge the age of a brooch is to compare it to one that is a verified antique. Looking at a brooch that is a verified antique shows how much wear a brooch should contain. Once this comparison is made, there is a good chance that a buyer is able to tell the age of a brooch through the amount of wear on a verified antique.
The overall craftsmanship of a brooch is also a good sign of whether or not the brooch is an antique. Overall craftsmanship refers to the weight, sturdiness, and type of tines by which the rhinestones are held.
Weight and Craftsmanship
Reproduction rhinestone brooches are not as heavy as those that are mass produced later. The mass produced brooch usually has a lighter or plated metal instead of a noble metal, such as gold, silver, white gold, and platinum. The older the brooch, the more likely it is to be a noble metal or a high metal, such as steel or an alloy. Newer reproduction brooches are often made from aluminium, plastic coated with a thin layer of metal, or painted plastic. Good reproductions can be made from heavier metals but these tend to have textured or patterned backs on them.
The tines of a brooch that are holding the rhinestones are also a good indication of the age of a brooch. The tines of an antique brooch are sturdier and wrap further up the rhinestone than those of a reproduction. The tines of a reproduction often appear flimsy or not as sturdy as those that are true antiques. They are often thinner and much easier to bend. The quality of the tines should be good, and they should be wide enough to hold a brooch securely.
Another indicator of an antique brooch are the rhinestones, themselves. Most of the antique rhinestones were made of glass or a glass-like plastic. They should shine and have the look of real diamonds, or cut glass. The newer brooches have a flat, almost plastic, look to them. These brooches also do not contain the foil backs that match the metal that is beside them. Rather than modern plastic, the vintage or antique rhinestone brooches are made from a material called bakelite, celluloid, featherlite, lucite, or thermaset. Many of these materials can be copied by modern plastics but have a slightly different appearance to them. The best way to tell the difference is to compare them with an antique rhinestone brooch that has been verified and the material is known. It is usually only by close comparison that the difference shows.
Buying Antique Rhinestone Brooches on eBay
It is easy to purchase an antique rhinestone brooch on eBay. If you go to the eBay website, and enter the search terms "antique rhinestone brooch", hit search and the page shows a list of all of the products matching the search terms. If what you were looking for does not show up in the listings, you may want to modify your search terms to something like "bakelite antique rhinestone brooch". This shows a listing of products matching the new search terms. Choose a listing from these terms and click on it.
Once the individual listing is shown, it contains a description, the seller's policies regarding shipping and returns, and the seller's feedback rating. The seller's feedback rating and feedback are particularly important when purchasing antiques of any kind. The feedback often tells you if the seller is known for selling reproductions or true antique rhinestone brooches. There are also eBay sellers that are rated as top sellers, which means they have consistently high feedback and a good seller rating. An eBay Top-Rated Seller is one of the more trustworthy sellers on eBay.
Purchasing antique rhinestone brooches does not need to be confusing or difficult. An antique rhinestone brooch is not only a great way to accessorise, but they can be quite valuable and increase in value as they get older. It is important to make sure that the brooches are, in fact, antiques and made of true rhinestones. In order to do this, there are a few things that one must keep in mind. The logo, hallmark, or jeweller's mark is often a good way to make sure the brooch is authentic. Another way is to look at the wear on the rhinestone brooch. All antique brooches have some amount of tarnishing or wear on them. It is ordinarily just a part of the aging process. It is wise to be aware of the false aging processes as well as knowing what real aging looks like. The materials and backing can be used to judge a false rhinestone brooch. The last thing that can be used to identify a real antique rhinestone brooch from a fake is the material from which it is made. These brooches can be purchased from antique shops as well as from online outlets, such as eBay.