Friday, July 13, 2012

Jewelry Primer & Friday Fashion Facts

I don't know about you, but I love vintage jewelry. It usually has more character than brand new stuff and is, quite frequently, more affordable. The best places to find reasonably priced vintage jewelry is at garage and estates sales and thrift stores. Costume jewelry is just fine and dandy (the above pieces are nothing more than base metal and glass), but sometimes you want a higher-quality treasure. The trick is knowing what you're dealing with. 

I have the advantage of calling a coin and antique dealer "Father", but not everyone is so lucky to have a family member who will give them free appraisals (or free jewelry). So I've compiled a list of the basic jewelry marks you will find on finer pieces. You need a keen eye, since the markings are frequently very tiny and are usually punched in the metal in inconspicuous places

Silver (most common & most affordable)
925
.925
"Sterling"
"Sterling Silver"

Gold (In order of  highest to lowest quality)
24k or 999
22k or 916 or 917
18k or 750
14k or 585
10k or 417 or 16

Platinum
I'm not as familiar with platinum and rarely see it at thrift stores or garage sales. If you want to learn about it, this article from eHow is very useful.

When you get into really old or really fine jewelry, you may start to see hallmarks and stamps alongside the codes. These vary widely depending on maker, country of origin, etc. I recommend getting a book of hallmarks if you're interested in learning about them or have some pieces that are hallmarked.

Update: My dad emailed me and said I should also recommend you bring a small magnet with you when you're shopping for vintage jewelry. Test any pieces you find, because sometimes even stamped pieces can be fake. If it sticks to the magnet, it's base metal. Just make sure to keep the magnet away from your bank cards!


Friday Fashion Facts
The numbers stamped on jewelry usually refer to the percentage of gold or silver they contain. For instance, sterling is marked "925" and is 92.5% pure silver.


6 comments:

SACRAMENTO said...

I can pin you now, yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Thrifted Shift said...

Good to know! Thanks!

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DOWNTOWNCHICAGOBARBIE said...

You totally need to do more of these. Maybe put on heels on for the girls night out.

Ashley said...

What a great tip about the magnet! Thanks =)

Terri said...

Thank your father for the magnet idea!

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