Shopping for vintage jewellery is like embarking on a grand treasure hunt. Each piece is unique and rich with history. The interest in vintage jewellery has been steadily increasing over the last few years. Some of this is partly due to recent TV shows in which people discover whether or not their vintage jewellery is worth anything. Now there are collectors seeking out vintage jewellery as well as investors. Going to estate sales is especially popular because people can sort through previously owned jewellery in hopes of finding something truly vintage. If the jewellery is worth something, the find is even better. One of the ways to look for valuable jewellery is to look for ones with precious metals or stones. Learning how to search for and identify genuine vintage gold bracelets is essential. With all of the replica costume jewellery in existence, it can be hard to determine whether or not the bracelet is truly vintage and real gold.
History of Gold Jewellery
Gold artefacts have been found as far back as the 4th millennium BC. It was the Egyptians, though, that first mass produced gold. King Tushratta described gold as being more plentiful than dirt in Egypt. Their sarcophaguses, statues, thrones, jewellery, and even some of the wall murals had gold in them. The country had gold mines set up all over the country which are no longer in existence. However, some of the maps of the mines are still around.
Other ancient cultures also frequently used gold such as Israel, Rome, Greece, and parts of Africa. Gold has been a staple in history since it was first used.
Eras of Vintage Jewellery
Knowing the styles of jewellery from each of the time periods helps people find what they are looking for faster. When shopping online, they can search specifically for the style that they like. Being familiar with the styles also helps people determine whether or not the bracelet is as old as the seller says it is.
Retro Jewellery from 1935 to 1950
The use of gold was prevalent during this time, especially rose gold. The pieces were usually very bold and chunky with large clusters of jews. The majority of the jewels were not expensive though. Diamonds were not popular and stones like aquamarine, topaz, and citrines that cost less were used more. Most of the bracelets from this period were wide and often had patterns that alternated from regular gold to rose gold.
Art Deco Jewellery from 1920 to 1935
The art deco period was all about bold colour and large sizes. Several gold bracelets were often worn together at the same time. Yellow gold was not popular and white gold was used the most. Jewels of all colours were bunched together in clusters to get the most dramatic effect.
Edwardian Jewellery from 1900 to 1915
This period is named after King Edward. The jewellery had lavishly explicit designs that were dainty and feminine. Gold was not as commonly used as platinum and coloured gems were not popular. The wide use of diamonds and pearls are the biggest characteristic of the time. The jewellery was as void of colour as possible. Yellow gold was rare but white gold was still fairly common.
Arts and Crafts from 1895 to 1910
A big emphasis was put on handmade jewellery during this time. Mass producing was less popular and cheaper materials were used. Society rebelled against the expensive and lavish jewellery of the victorian era by trying to combine jewellery with nature. They used less costly materials such as silver, moonstones, and enamels. The designs on the jewellery also connected to nature with things like flowers, plants, and insects like the dragonfly.
Victorian Jewellery from 1840 to 1890
The jewellery during this time was elegant like Queen Victoria with styles that were sentimental and romantic. The pieces usually had a lot of floral patterns and flowing lines. Gold was the preferred metal during this time, but the discovery of the gold plating technique made gold plating popular. The colour black was also very popular. Black gems and black enamel coated gold is found on a lot of the pieces.
Determining the Age of the Vintage Gold Bracelet
The hardest part of finding vintage jewellery is figuring out how old it is. The first step is to compare its style and design to the time periods described above. This is not a sure fire way of dating the piece but it is a good starting point. Next, look for an inscription or symbol on the bottom side of the bracelet. Many genuine pieces of jewellery are identified by their maker. Also look at the clasps if they are high quality. If there is a safety lock on it, then it is not costume jewellery. Not all vintage bracelets have safety locks but it is a good way of ruling out fake pieces.
If there are any jewels on the bracelets, check to see how they are set. There should be sturdy prongs and not glue. Although it is hard to tell if gems are genuine or not, sometimes fake gems are obvious. Avoid anything that appears to have fake stones in it. Lastly, do ample amounts of research to become familiar with the styles of the eras. The only way to be truly certain of the bracelet is to take it to a jeweller or appraiser, but these tips help people identify the real jewellery from the junk. When looking at the jewellery, be sure to gather all the information that the seller has about it because this may help date it.
Checking for Genuine Gold
The value of gold is determined by how much of it is used in the jewellery. The purity of the gold is measured in karats. Pure gold is 24 karats and anything under 10 karats is considered fake. Check the underside of the bracelet for identification because the karat rating is often stamped underneath.
Keep in mind that not all gold is yellow. In fact, gold can be any colour when mixed with the right alloys. Fake yellow gold is often more yellow and shiny than real gold. Real gold has a satin look to it rather than a shiny one. Look closely at the bracelet at the areas that have been worn down the most. If there appears to be any other metals shining through, then the piece is gold plated. Another way to test the bracelet is to hold a magnet next to it. Many fake pieces use metal that is magnetic. Real gold is not magnetic.
Another popular way to test gold is to do a nitric acid test. However, this method is best left to a jeweller because it is hazardous. The bracelet is set into a steel container and one drop of acid is poured over it. If it turns green or milk-coloured, it is fake. Real gold has no reaction to the acid.
Find Vintage Gold Bracelets on eBay
The difficulty with shopping for anything vintage is that there are not many places to look. Locally, most people shop at estate sales, garage sales, or antique shops, but these are very hit and miss. Months could go by before you find anything of value. That is why websites like eBay are so helpful. People from around the world can sell their vintage objects on eBay, and that gives buyers a way to see hundreds of items all in one place.
To start shopping, simply type "Vintage Gold Bracelet" into the eBay search bar. Many options to look through are returned. Before browsing, find the Condition section and select "Used". This eliminates all of the new pieces that are designed to look vintage. The next thing you can do is enter in your price range. Since vintage jewellery can be anywhere from inexpensive to very expensive, this helps you stay within your budget.
With any vintage jewellery it is important to look through all of the pictures carefully to see the condition of the piece, and also read the product description thoroughly. Next, read through the seller’s reviews to make sure their past customers were happy with their purchases. Since it is somewhat of a risk buying jewellery that could potentially be fake, it is recommended that you buy from sellers who accept returns.
The process of shopping for vintage jewellery is challenging, yet fun. Trying to figure out its age and whether or not it is genuine is somewhat of a puzzle that can be very rewarding if solved. Owning vintage jewellery is like wearing a piece of history on the wrist. It is unique from jewellery made today and its past is a mystery. In addition to the fun side of shopping for vintage jewellery, it can also be an investment. It is possible to find jewellery that is being sold for less than what it is worth. Shoppers can either choose to re-sell the piece for a profit right away or keep it and let the value continue to rise. Rare jewellery continues to appreciate as it gets older. Anyone can join in on the treasure hunt by simply learning about the styles of the past, how to figure out the age of the bracelet, and how to find out if the gold is real or not.