Every so often, while passing a store window or surfing the net, you will come across someone selling Vintage Jewelry.
It looks so old fashioned.
Why on earth would anyone want something that was used?
Vintage Jewelry, whether it be brooches set with semi-precious stones or grandmother’s engagement ring, has stood the test of time.
They are still in someone’s jewelry box because, while they are still “old fashioned” they are still Fashion, with a capital F.
They were also very well made.
One hundred years ago, we did not live in a disposable society.
Products were made to last, and to be passed down.
If something broke, it was repaired or repurposed.
It is not necessary to examine a piece with a jeweler’s loupe to see the differences.
Some of them are plain to the unassisted, naked eye.
Many European works did not use what are not considered “standard” stone cutting techniques.
Diamonds set in Europe will appear to be set higher in the setting, rounded.
The “table”, the flat surface on top of the stone that not only gives the most reflective qualities but allows the eye to see into the stone itself to see the facets, will be much smaller.
This is known as a “Mine Cut”.
When compared to the modern Brilliant Cut, the traditional round diamond with the large flat table, the Mine Cut has more true fire, and gives more beauty to the piece.
Keep in mind that until the last twenty or so years, ALL stones were cut by hand, the work of a skilled cutter.
Today, many stones are cut by laser, which is why so many unusual cuts, like the Princess
Cut and Asher are appearing on the market.
The older the jewelry, the less possibility that the stones will be enhanced.
Many modern stones, such as black, blue and yellow diamonds, are treated with pressure, dyes and are irradiated to attain the desired uniformity of colors.
Diamonds do appear in nature as blue, black and yellow.
But true, natural Canary Diamonds are extremely rare, and would have commanded a huge price.
They would only be found in the collections of the very wealthy.
The Hope Diamond that resides in the Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution is an example of a natural blue diamond.
Take time to study the piece.
How are the stones set?
Are the backs closed or open?
That will make a difference in the way the reflect the light, as well as how easy they are to clean.
A word on “Mourning Diamonds”.
Women were traditionally forbidden to wear precious gems during their period of mourning.
Full mourning was a year, then half mourning for another six months.
During this time, all “bling” had to be put away.
Women figured out a way around this.
Yes, there were mourning brooches made from the hair of the dearly departed.
There were also what was dubbed Mourning Diamonds.
These are not diamonds at all, but Marcasites.
Marcasites are considered a semi-precious stone, and are in reality iron pyrite, “fools gold” that is cut and faceted to look like small diamonds.
At first glance, they look like the real deal, until you get a second, better look.
Real marcasites have a soft, slightly green glow.
They are almost always set in silver and are sometime paired with other stones.
They are also considerably softer than diamonds, only about a 6 on the MOH’s hardness scale.
This jewelry has stood the test of time.
Perhaps it is your turn to carry on, or begin, a new tradition.