Since I know that many of you have jewelry mysteries of your own to solve, I decided to start a new series showing you how to go about the process so that you can be your own Jewelry Detective.
Jewelry Mystery #1...
A lady found my blog while trying to determine the age and symbolism of her earrings. She contacted me via Facebook with the above picture of the earrings in the box. She was lucky enough to find these little beauties at an Estate Sale and told me that all the dealers at the sale overlooked them. While there's a saying " A picture is worth a thousand words," that doesn't exactly hold true for period specific jewelry. There are too many factors to consider than what a single two dimensional photo can tell you, like what the item is made of. Just determining the metal can tell you a lot about the age of a piece. Since most people who have jewelry mysteries either inherit the jewelry or find it at an estate sale, most the people can't determine the metal and are at a disadvantage right from the start. The earrings above were also made prior to a regulated gold karat system and of course were not marked. For everyone else, the first thing you need to do is:
1) Look for karat and Makers Marks stamped in the jewelry.
These earrings didn't have any marks stamped in them so we had to use another route. My second fall back is to simply acid test the metals, but 99% of the population doesn't walk around with the acids required to do that. The owner of the earrings lives far away from my handy set, so we had only pictures to rely on. If there are no stamps and you can't acid test the metal, you can only go by your senses, in this case, sight. ( you can taste it too, but that's a story for another day!)
2) What does the metal look like?
In this case, it looks like gold. (Remember that things that look like gold may not always be gold, but can other gold-like substances.) There is a second metal on the earrings also which look to be very tarnished silver. So we have what looks like a combination of gold and silver. That in itself doesn't tell me very much but does start to hint at possibilities. Two metals like gold and silver were mixed in the same piece during several eras, but one of those era when it happened the most was the Georgian Era. Could these earrings be Georgian? I need more information to be sure.
Now I need to find other clues to narrow down the era in which the earrings were made. Earrings in the Georgian era are actually pretty easy to identify because all the ear hooks were worn by putting the wires into the BACKS of your ear lobes and hooking them at the front of the earring. If these earrings were fastened from back to front, then I can made a strong case that these earrings are from the Georgian Era.
Second, at about 1:00, (using the hook terminus at the top of the earrings as 12:00), I can see what looks like a rivet connecting the gold flower on the front to the back of the silver horse shoe. In more recent times, things are connected to one another by simply soldering them together. In ages past, two things were connected with rivets. Unless it's a trick of the light, that looks like a rivet holding the gold to the silver. But things are so difficult to see in pictures it is hard to tell.
I do need more pictures to be certain, but from the pictures I have, they certainly seem Georgian to me. If we can use the repousee' as an age determining clue, repousee' reaching the height of it's popularity in the 1830's. I'd say that it would be a good guess that these earrings are from the same time period of circa 1830.
So I managed to narrow down the time period with a few clues. Now that you have the same information, you can begin to use the same methods and clues to determine your own jewelry. Granted, not all jewelry containing rivets will be Georgian, nor will all ear hooks with a back to front closure be Georgian.
Here's what I'm still puzzled by with Linda's Georgian Era earrings-
1) What is the flower that's depicted on the front of the earrings? Linda wanted to know the symbolism of the earrings and the flowers will tell us that. I am not well versed in my flower images so I can't look up the significance of the flower until I know what the flower is. Any ideas anyone?
2) Why would the horse shoe and the flower be hanging upside down? I began to wonder if they were part of another piece of jewelry and converted into earrings. I'll never know from the pictures we have, but it seems possible.
If anyone has any ideas on the flower and any thoughts in general on these earrings, please post them here or on my Facebook page. I'd love to hear your thoughts! If you'd like to read the entire conversation to see if there's anything you pick up that I missed, please read the recent post from Linda Marie Andula on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JewelryNerd
(The earrings featured in this post are in a private collection and are not for sale)