Searching for Jewelry
Photos by Larry Stanley
A Missouri wholesale company recently expanded its line of imitation and fantasy badges, fobs and diestamped metal novelties to include the figural fobs shown here. These new pieces are actually quite well made and show remarkable detail. Most, however, like the Alcatraz electric chair and the Dalton safe, are only cleverly created fantasy items without any authentic old counterparts. Wholesale prices for these pieces average $5 to $9.
One of the best ways to avoid reproductions and fakes is to know and understand how originals are made. Reproductions are rarely made the same as originals due to changes in materials, labor costs and modern production techniques. When looking at brooches, you can get a good idea of the age of the piece by studying the catches, hinges and pins Fig. 1.
At the time of the last feature article on costume jewelry in 1996, fakes and copies were being made of some of the more expensive originals including the socalled jelly belly pieces.
Two widely faked marks on base metals in the market are 14K Italy and 585 These forged marks commonly appear on pieces with no gold content.
New keywind pocket watches with painted cases were first shown in ACRN in September 1999. The decoration on those watches was a head and shoulders portrait of Tsar Nicholas II. The decoration on the latest watches is a wooden sailing ship in a storm tossed sea.
Until recently, most reproductions of Art Deco jewelry under $100 were very easy to spot. The quality was terrible and most designs were worse than terrible. But thats been changing. All the pieces shown on this page are $22-$26 and are much more convincing.
The costume jewelry market has seen an increasing number of pieces made from new molds taken from vintage originals. Dozens of familiar designs are being sold by operations in California, Florida and North Carolina, using production and assembly labor from different points overseas. Eisenberg, Trifari, Boucher, Hobe, Weiss, Coroa and Coro Craft are only some of the popular old names being reproduced in a broad range of styles.
The identification and grading of gemstones was for many years often based on color alone. As the color of manufactured, or synthetic, gems became more accurate, color alone became more unreliable as a test of authenticity or value.
In an experiment conducted in late 1997, 40 jewelers and pawn shop owners incorrectly identified synthetic moissanite, a new diamond substitute, as genuine diamond. They were fooled because they all used what was until then the most widely used diamond test, a thermal conductivity probe.