With so many vintage inspired jewellery reproductions floating around online and at your local vintage market, it’s good to be aware of what you’re buying. Nothing is more disappointing than purchasing a piece that’s been labelled vintage, to then discover it’s a recent reproduction.
To make things more confusing, the 1990s saw a big demand for reproductions and given the 90s was over 20 years ago, these reproduction pieces are now vintage! However, I do feel some reproduction pieces are stunning, worth collecting and wearing. I stock a few in the HFV London Found collection but you will notice the price point is lower.
So, here are five easy tips to help you identify whether the piece you’re looking at is from the mid-century or a modern reproduction.
- Check the back or the clasp for a signature. Pieces produced in the mid twentieth century were often signed. Signature names to look out for are Trifari, Monet, Coro and Barcs.
- Check what the metal finish is like? If it’s goldtone, can you see signs of it rubbing off. Can you see the base metal? Jewellers applied high quality gold or silver plating to pieces throughout the 20th century. There’s a lot of good quality pieces out there that show no tarnish.
- What’s the weight like? Pieces produced in the late 20th century are often lighter and thinner. This is tricker to identify when you’re looking online, however, if you’re unsure, double check with the seller or look at their reviews!
- How are the stones set? Best practice is prong set. Also, the crystals shouldn’t be discoloured. 20th century vintage crystal stones were from Austria (Swarovski) and have stood the test of time.
- Look at the size. A lot of us have larger wrists and necks now. Most often necklaces were set at 16.5inches (approx. 42cm) and bracelets are a standard 7.5inches (approx. 19cm). Make sure you measure yourself before buying anything online or try the piece on if you're at a market. If it's too small, perhaps look into pieces from the later 20th century.
Overall, the key to confidently purchasing a piece of authentic vintage costume jewellery is having an understanding of a few differences. There is a wonderful abundance of vintage costume jewellery available to wear and collect. If you would like even more tips, I published a book a few years ago which is still available to purchase here. It even has a few secrets about scarves and bags!!