Antique jewellery has an irresistible allure, with its historical charm and beautiful craftsmanship from another century. However, as with any purchase, buyers should be aware of several important factors as they search for the right antique silver jewellery items to add to their collections. Authenticity, origins, condition, and style are all key considerations.
Ensure the Authenticity
Before you purchase any antique silver jewellery, be certain it is authentic. For jewellery, the term 'silver' actually refers to sterling silver. Silver is too soft for craftsmen to make anything lasting out of it, so they combine it with an alloy. Sterling silver is always 92.5 per cent silver and 7.5 per cent of some other metal, often copper. The copper lends durability to the silver without interfering with its value and beauty. Examine the piece of antique silver jewellery that you want to buy. It should have a soft shine, a unique lustre that only true silver possesses. Another indication of its authenticity and quality is the hallmark or maker's mark somewhere on the piece. Such a mark may refer directly to the quality of the silver, or it may show the name or icon of the designer.
Research the Backstory
Antique silver jewellery usually comes with a story. The seller may or may not know the history of the piece, but if origins are important to you, look for a necklace, ring, bracelet, or brooch with an interesting tale to go along with it. If an important historical figure owned the piece, or someone wore the piece to a momentous occasion, learn all you can about that person or event. Try to obtain some proof of the piece's origins for your own records.
Check the Condition
Because of previous ownership and decades of existence, antique jewellery items often bear the marks of use. Examine any silver piece that you want to buy carefully before purchasing it. Check it for tarnished spots, dents, scratches, missing stones, and unidentified markings. If you do buy a jewellery item with damage or wear, be sure you can easily fix it yourself or get someone knowledgeable to repair or clean the piece.
Choose the Right Style
Decide whether you want to display, store, or wear the antique silver jewellery that you buy. If you want to invest in such items or collect them, the style does not matter quite as much. However, if you plan to wear the necklaces, bracelets, earrings, or rings, make sure the items fit with your wardrobe and your typical way of dressing. For instance, a piece of silver Victorian jewellery or Edwardian jewellery is too ornate for the office, but works well for a wedding or a night at the opera. On the other hand, a piece from the Arts and Crafts period or the Art Nouveau period typically has simpler lines and a cleaner style which makes it appropriate for many settings.