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How to Identify Genuine Georgian Jewelry, part 1 

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The popularity of Georgian jewelry has resulted in the market being flooded with fakes and the best way to avoid being sold a fake is to educate yourself. This post addresses how to identify genuine Georgian jewelry and is wonderfully written by Lisa of Lisa Kramer Vintage, a trusted expert on antique jewelry and in the business since the late 90s. She is also contributing another post tomorrow, which will be about what to look for in fakes and repros.

When evaluating a piece of jewelry you need to look at many characteristics of a piece. Think of yourself as a detective and design, materials, and construction are your clues.

SETTINGS: the most typical style of stone setting during the Georgian era was the crimped collet setting which was often cut down between the crimping to create prong-like protrusions; these are referred to as cut-down collets. Georgian collets were made from very thin sheet metal that was burnished tight to the stone to keep out air and moisture which would cause foils to tarnish on closed-back pieces.

Cut-down collet

Red flag: If you see a lot of gaps between the edges of collets and stones this is a clue that it might not be a Georgian piece. Granted, over the years collets are sometimes damaged, but a finely-made collet with later damage looks different than a poorly made one.

Clear stones were usually set in silver and colored stones were often set in gold. Most often, stones have closed-back settings that were foiled. Clear stones had foils added to improve their reflectivity; these were usually made of silvered copper and sometimes you can see the copper exposed after years of oxidation as you can see in the photo of the earrings where one the foils on the right has had some damage and the copper is exposed.

Copper foil

Colored foils were used to add color to clear stones, improve the color of colored stones, improve reflectivity, or make a lesser gemstone like rock crystal look like a more valuable stone. Opaque stones like agate, or dark stones, will sometimes have open backs. However, if a stone had good color or reflectivity it was sometimes left open backed.

Colored foils Garnet pansy

Red flag: I have seen hundreds of crudely made rose-cut diamond cluster rings and 5-stone rings for sale in the past few years. These rings usually have poor quality diamonds and crudely made, lumpy, crimped silver settings. Most of these have been made in the last 20 years or so. Think about how cheap it is to make a ring like this relative to how much they sell for because of their purported age, and you will understand why there are so many around.

Diamonds: The wheels used to cut gemstones in the Georgian era were slower than modern equipment, so cutting wasn’t as precise as in modern times. As a result, facets usually aren’t as uniform as you would find in a modern piece. Also, diamonds hadn’t yet been discovered in South Africa so the supply was limited. Jewelers were trying to maximize the visible face of stones as much as possible, so rose-cuts will often be very shallow, practically slivers, of stone and somewhat irregularly shaped. In addition, the size of stones will often vary slightly in cluster rings.

The quality of diamonds in the Georgian era was not as good as today by today’s standard of the 4 “C”s (the exception are Golconda diamonds, but these are very rare). So Georgian diamonds are likely to have some inclusions. On the other hand, look carefully at the construction details of a piece if the diamonds are very heavily included. You may have a genuine Georgian piece or you may have a cheaply-made modern piece with poor-quality diamonds.

Rose cuts and cushion cuts were the most common cuts of stone with occasional table cuts and step cuts. Towards the latter part of the Georgian era early versions of round European cuts started to appear. But remember, just because one of these types of stone cut is used, doesn’t make it old.

Paste: Paste jewelry (i.e. jewelry set with glass stones) was an art form in the Georgian era and often made by the same jewelers who worked with fine gemstones. A great deal of it has survived because it is less likely to have been scrapped and broken up over time than jewelry set with fine gemstones.

Georgian paste will often have a black dot painted on its culet to give it a sense of depth; you will often hear it referred to as “black dot” paste. These black dots are a sign that a piece is genuine since it is a labor-intensive detail unlikely to be found in a newer piece.

Black dot paste cluster

Red flag: I’ve seen some fake Georgian paste earrings with a hole at the back of the closed-back setting that gives the appearance of a black dot when viewed from the front. You would not find a hole like this in a genuine Georgian piece since it would let in air and cause the foil to darken.

Georgian paste was hand-cut, just like gemstones, so you will find irregularities in facets and between stones. If all the stones on a piece look identical under magnification it is likely that you have a later piece. Eighteenth century paste will often be cut into unusual shapes; glass is much easier to cut than harder gemstones so gem cutters were able to get creative. Around 1800 paste became more uniformly round, but still hand-cut, so this can help you circa date a piece.

Ring with shaped stones

Because paste isn’t as valuable as fine gemstones it isn’t faked as often; however, beware of late 19th century and early 20th century Georgian revival pieces that are being sold as genuine Georgian pieces (the second post in this series covers this in more detail).

Materials: some materials commonly found in modern jewelry were not available in the Georgian era so if a piece contains one of these materials it is either not Georgian, or has had a significant alteration:

Synthetic stones: Although some processes for creating synthetic gemstones were invented in the mid-19th century, synthetic rubies and sapphires were not commercially available until the early 20th century.

White gold: the alloy for white gold was patented in 1915

Platinum: prior to 1895 there was no torch hot enough for jewelers to commercially produce platinum jewelry. Prior to this time small amounts of platinum were occasionally used in jewelry, but it is very rare.

Gemstones: tanzanite, demantoid garnets, and tsavorite garnets were discovered after the Georgian era.

Weight: Georgian jewelry is often a lot lighter than an equivalent piece made today. During the Georgian era raw materials were harder to come by than they are today. Gold hadn’t yet been discovered in California and Alaska. Diamonds hadn’t been discovered in South Africa. Jewelers mostly used thin sheets and wires of gold and silver to fabricate pieces. Georgian chains are featherweight; a heavy chain would be a clue that it is a later piece. Collets holding stones are made from very thin metal; heavy collets and castings are a clue that a piece might be a reproduction.

Conversions and alterations: conversions of Georgian jewelry have been popular since the Victorian era and are wildly popular today. Georgian buttons were often converted to brooches, rings, pendants, and earrings. Buckles are often converted to brooches. And fragments of pieces pieces are sometimes re-purposed. While purists may balk, as long as a conversion is disclosed, it is considered an acceptable practice today. The black dot paste cluster earrings, navette ring, and solitaire earrings in this post are all conversions from buttons with the cluster earrings having been converted in the Victorian era.

Button conversion solitaires

Marks: hallmarking of jewelry was uncommon during the Georgian era, but is occasionally encountered. So presence of a hallmark is a red flag, but also a useful tool, since it provides information that you can research.

Craftsmanship: Georgian jewelry was mostly handmade with a high quality of craftsmanship. The better the craftsmanship, the less likely a piece is a fake because of the cost of producing it.

Look at the beautiful workmanship of the Georgian paste pieces in this post and think about this: if Georgian jewelers used such care in making pieces set with glass stones, it’s hard to believe they used lesser-skilled craftsmen when making jewelry set with diamonds and other gemstones.

Cornucopia front Cornucopia back

Wear: while the occasional piece of Georgian jewelry was never, or rarely, worn this is a rarity. Even a piece that was never worn is unlikely to have been optimally stored for 200 years.

Look at your own jewelry and notice how it gets damaged: high points of metal get worn or dented; facets of stones get scratched and chipped; clasps, ear wires, loops and hooks break; long necklaces get caught on things; rings and bracelets get banged on things; engraving gets worn down; enamel gets chipped; jewelry bangs against other pieces in a jewelry box. Over time there also can be chemical damage: moisture and humidity can cause foils to darken on closed-back settings; hair product can fill crevices; sweat can cause damage; silver polish can leave residue and damage pearls; acid can darken metals; turquoise can change color; seed pearls (especially on rings) start to dissolve.

Red flag: a piece that seems too perfect. It may be genuine, or have been restored, but when a piece is being sold as “like new” look closely at the details of design and construction to see whether they seem “right”. Also, check to see if a part of a piece is in better condition than the rest of it; if this is the case, this may mean it has been re-enameled, had a stone replaced, had another type of restoration performed, or be a marriage of old and new components. This can be acceptable, but should be disclosed.

Conclusion: It’s not possible in one blog post to cover every characteristic of jewelry that was made during the 116 years that comprise the Georgian era, or every national and folk style. I’m sure there are genuine pieces on the market that in one or more ways contradict some of the characteristics identified above. However, this post is a good starting point for evaluating the most common pieces of Georgian jewelry in today’s market. For more detailed information, check out the resources below.

Resources:

Antique Jewelry University: a wealth of information can be found on this site. Particularly useful is a video where they evaluate three Georgian-style rings element-by-element. Scroll down to the bottom of the page in this link for the video. 

“Georgian Jewellery” by Ginny Redington Dawes and Olivia Collings. This book is the bible on the subject.

“Antique Paste Jewellery” by M.D.S. Lewis.

“Five Centuries of Jewellery” National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon

“World Hallmarks, Volume 1”, by William Whetstone, Danusia Niklewicz, and Lindy Matula. This is the standard reference for European hallmarks

Jewels at my Doorstep: Loren Nicole 

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There's something magical about high karat gold and Loren Nicole understands exactly what I mean! I was eager to work on another Jewels at my Doorstep feature for this designer, this time around with new jewelry--so new, in fact, many pieces were fresh off her jeweler's bench. As with all the jewelry that Loren designs, everything is inspired by ancient techniques, she uses 22k gold, and each piece is handmade by herself in her California studio. Her brand has a clear vision and goal for its clients and collectors to feel connected with the past when wearing her pieces. If these gorgeous jewels can reawaken a curiousity in someone to learn about the past, visit a museum, or read a history book, then Loren says her job as a jewelry designer has reached its ultimate level.

Individually, each 22k gold necklace is bold and dynamic on its own, but when you mix them and layer the lengths just right, the entire look is pretty incredible. For these new pieces, as you can tell from the photos, they are meant to be layered. When asking Loren about her new collection, that's exactly what she said she set out to do: "I revisited all the jewelry I have made since day one, laid it out on the table and pulled the pieces that felt the most wearable and can be easily layered. I modified a few designs and added in a couple new designs that I felt were missing, like key pieces in the history of jewelry, such as a signet ring (ours inspired but an Ancient Egyptian Shape) and a tassel earring." Her signet ring is made with hammered 22k gold and can feature a stone or no stone, as you can see both versions in the photos. These rings are beyond comfortable and I love the shape of them. I even think they would make a kickass engagement ring. 

When creating tassels as a part of Loren's core collection, the material used had to be unique--silk tassels and beaded tassels just weren't speaking to her. She instantly thought of horsehair and now that they have been created and have become a part of the collection, the horsehair makes so much sense on so many levels. For one, being ancient inspired, horses have always been a huge part of so many civilizations over centuries past, that connection is deeply rooted. The texture of the horsehair paired with the richness of 22k gold is a complete match made in heaven, even the colors are beautiful. The horsehair can also take customization to a whole new level as you can use your own horse's hair--it can be a way of commemorating a horse or keeping it close to you in the form of jewelry. We all know someone who absolutely loves horses and I think this introduction of horsehair tassel earrings to her collection is quite genius!

I hope you've enjoyed learning about and seeing some of the newest pieces from Loren Nicole. Knowing that each piece is handmade by Loren herself goes a long way with me and I love her line even more for that. Just to put it in perspective, I asked Loren how long it takes to make a couple of her handwoven chains. The 20" woven tube chain takes about 25 hours to make and weighs one ounce. The open woven Roman chain takes about 15 hours and weighs one ounce as well. I don't think I ever want to wear a thin, factory made chain ever again!

 

All photography shot by SWAK Photography  

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Loren Nicole.

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Jewelry Wish List

Holiday Wish List, GemGossip.com

Kicking off the holiday season, we've compiled a wish list that every serious jewelry fiend would swoon over. These are my top must-haves from favorite designers, antique jewelry shops and dealers and some fun things thrown in the mix. Each day, this blog post will be updated with one item and in case you need a better way to remember, a Newsletter will go out highlighting the designer or items we've hand-selected. (You can sign up here.)This time of year is always special, but it goes by SO quickly--we want this list to help you plan without taking time out from your busy life. So let's get the list going!! You can follow along on Instagram with the hashtag: #GemGossipWishList

Full disclosure: There is a small fee designers had to pay to be involved in this project. I receive zero commission based on how many pieces of each item sell during this promotion--this is not a commission-based program.

Bce Jewelry

Designer: BCE Jewelry

Why is she on the list: Her jewelry is a personal favorite of mine, as I own a few pieces (most recently an ancient coin bezel set necklace). Each piece is handmade in California, which I love--small business, great people, beautiful pieces. I also love the style and design of her rings and think they pair REALLY well with antique jewelry. Find a gem that speaks to you and your style/collection and you won't be disappointed!

Fox + Bond

Designer: Fox & Bond

Why are they on the list: Rainbow has been hugely popular this year and I'm loving all things colorful--these ombré rings light up any stack instantly with their eye-catching style and boldness. The stones are hand-selected when creating each ombré palette and handmade in LA. Every collection needs a F&B Ombré ring!

Rebecca Fogg Jewelry

Designer: Rebecca Fogg Jewelry

Why is she on the list: We are obsessed with her Egyptian-inspired pieces she creates in her Upstate NY studio and we love supporting new, up-and-coming designers. Each piece is handmade using recycled metals. Can we also mention our obsession with her snake charm holder?! 

Charmco

Online Destination: Charmco

Why are they on our list: It's no secret that Charmco is my number one spot to search for charms. My figa collection is extensive and whenever I post a photo on Instagram, it saddens me to receive a barrage of messages asking for prices, only to copy/paste the same response of "sorry these are not for sale." SO, here you go--these are all for sale and ready for new homes! Start your very own figa collection this holiday season!

Morgan Patricia Designs

Designer: Morgan Patricia Designs

Why is she on the list: I discovered Morgan Patricia Designs thanks to another fellow jewelry designer--I gave her page one look and was instantly drawn in. Three words: mermaid inspired jewelry. Growing up, The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite movies, so her line brings back some nostalgia. Who wouldn't want to feel like a mermaid dripping in handmade jewels inspired by the ocean?! Her opal pieces are to die for!

Verma Estate

Online Destination: Verma Estate Jewelry

Why are they on our list: The holidays are all about surprises and what better way than to surprise your loved one with a proposal! We've chosen Verma Estate Jewelry because they have a wide selection of completely gorgeous vintage and antique diamond engagement rings, all of which are more than ideal to propose with. Spanning several time periods and both traditional and non-traditional styles, you'll be completely satisfied browsing their new website.

Mini Mini Jewels

Designer: Mini Mini Jewels

Why are they on our list: We are obsessed with zodiac jewelry, so discovering this newly launched jewelry line that had created their own "mini" zodiac symbols in stud earring form was a treat. You can even customize by choosing which gemstone you prefer. Just check out the Celestial Collection of their website and shop away!

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Designer: Gigi Ferranti Jewelry

Why is she on our list: Modern stackers are a popular category for gift-giving because they fit so well with most people's jewelry they already wear! Gigi Ferranti creates some of the best-quality and sleekest designed stackables out there right now. She also has price points for every budget, check out the Gift Ideas section on her website.

Workhorse Jewelry

Designer: Workhorse Jewelry

Why are they on our list: For so many reasons: vintage-inspired, great price points, perfect gifts, stack-friendly pieces that mesh well with other collections...I could go on! Workhorse Jewelry gets its inspiration from sentimental Victorian pieces of the bygone era. Oftentimes, original Victorian jewelry is too fragile or too small beyond sizing to repair and that's why I love Workhorse because their pieces can be worn everyday and made to fit you, all while keeping the Victorian look. Shop now to receive your order in time for the holidays!

Trumpet & Horn

Online Destination: Trumpet & Horn

Why are they on our list: All throughout the year, we eagerly await our weekly email from Trumpet & Horn revealing their new arrivals. There is always something that catches my eye, whether its an Art Deco right hand ring or Edwardian engagement ring. Browse their website and find gift giving ideas for all price points--lots of earring options for under $500 and fun vintage rings for under $1,000. We love this company and all that they do!

Nouvel Heritage

Designer: Nouvel Heritage

Why are they on the list: I'm obsessed with Nouvel Heritage's gem adorned Vendome earrings, pictured above. NH also just launched a new TRY&WEAR option which allows shoppers to order a jewelry sample to try and wear for a period of 30 days for only 10% of retail price, so shoppers can be confident in their choice before making a purchase. Love this idea!

Bario Neal

Designer: Bario Neal

Why are they on our list: We can't think of a better gift than a fanned or curved band that will instantly transform your engagement ring. A small addition can go a long way! Plus, we love Bario Neal because they're always finding ways to give back, like their current promo which gives you a discount for donating to a local nonprofit they've partnered with; check out their website for more details! Promo ends at the end of the month.

Mini Museum | Gem Gossip

Designer: Mini Museum

Why are they on our list: Hold 29 rare and unique objects that span billions of years all in your hand with this cool specimen display made of acrylic. The above is the third edition of this Limited Edition run, the first and second editions have since sold out! This piece includes a tiny swatch from Steve Jobs' sweater, a rough opal from Australia, 14 billion year old Moldavite, Space Gems (aka Peridot), and cake from Charles and Diana's wedding, among several other items. It's a great gift for all ages and displays beautifully!

Doyle & Doyle

Antique Destination: Doyle & Doyle

Why are they on our list: The holidays aren't complete without a NYC trip to Doyle & Doyle. Their museum-like interior boasts rings and jewels from all different time periods and is like a fairy tale for jewelry lovers. For instance, these rings shown above are all available and span from the Renaissance period (the emerald cabochon) to the Georgian period (spy two rings), Victorian Era (pinkish ruby), through the glamorous Art Deco period, and the most modern is the mid 20th century aquamarine cocktail ring! Shop all that they have to offer, you can't go wrong!

The Eden Collective

Antique Destination: The Eden Collective

Why are they on our list: Eden continually posts her finds on Instagram and her Etsy shop is filled with nearly 500 items, all of which are incredibly unique. Anytime she comes back from a buying trip, her 33k Instagram followers are chomping at the bit to see her newest finds, and I'm one of them! Above are some of her latest arrivals, with a mix of creepy and cool and gorgeous boulder opal one-of-a-kinds she has been delving into lately. We can't get enough!

Jude Frances Jewelry

Designer: Jude Frances Jewelry

Why is she on our list: I know charms are high on everyone's wish list--we all are looking for that perfect talisman to represent a special milestone or help protect us everyday, and we've been loving these from Jude Frances. These can be worn on hoop earrings or modify them to be worn on a chain or charm bracelet. There are so many styles to choose from, see if any speak to you and your story!

Greenwich St. Jewelers

Jewelry Store: Greenwich St. Jewelers

Why are they on our list: My go-to stop in NYC for the best curation of designer jewelry that is trendy and on-point is Greenwich St. Jewelers. This holiday season, their selection of gemstone rings is ideal for gifting or engagement ring possibilities. The above collection features designs from Megan Thorne, Greenwich St. Collection, Margery Hirschey, and Jennie Kwon. 'Tis the season to be gemmy!

 

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WANT MORE GIFT IDEAS? Check out these books for jewelry lovers

The Most Important Holiday Gift for Jewelry Lovers: A Brown Jewelry Safe

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As the days in December go by, I'm continually doing my jewelry duty by recommending all my favorite designers, shops and antique jewelry stores for all you holiday shoppers to buy jewelry from. But there's one more important, very luxurious but often necessary item that I haven't told you about until now! You can have loads and loads of jewelry, but if you are not keeping it organized or safe then you're doing yourself a disservice. That's why this year, above anything else, you should be wishing for a jewelry safe from Brown Safe! Or even better, make owning a safe from Brown Safe your New Year's resolution! 

I love the Brown Safes for so many reasons, one of the most important being that it protects your precious possessions. But also on top of that, they are designed to keep you highly organized. Customization is key; these aren't your average safes. They are specifically designed for gems and jewelry. You are offered a variety of layouts that allow you to build your own safe based on your needs. Luxurious finishes are another option you can choose when going through the steps of designing your own safe, along with outside color, interior finishes and lighting. By far my favorite part would be the drawer layout options, click to view all 18 possibilities. You know I was eyeing up the "drawer built for 100 rings." 

Here are the steps to designing your own safe:

1. Pick your size: mini, small, medium or large (of course, custom sizes can be made as well)

2. Choose your colors and finishes:

Outside color: there are seven options including a custom paint job

Hardware finish: silver, gold, bronze

Lock type: dial, electronic, or biometric

Interior wood finish: there's eight different luxurious wood options, as well as custom

Suede or velvet interior

Drawer pulls & drawer layout inserts: a few different pull options and all 18 layout options

3. Add-on options: lighting, door-mounted necklace rack, watch winders, door-mounted mirror, pedestal, three-spoke handle

4. Hinge location & door swing capabilties: should your safe swing open on the left or right and should it open to a 90 degree angle or 135 degree angle

5. Security levels: fire protection and security add-ons like alarms, etc.

If you're like me, you're drooling at the thought of all the possibilities of a custom safe. So hop on over to the Brown Safe website and start going through the steps and exploring the options! It is fun and gets you thinking about safe-guarding your jewels as they truly are little investments. 

 

This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with Brown Safe.

 

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Holiday Gift-Giving: A Birthstone for Every Month

Hunt County Jewelers | Gem Gossip Hunt County Jewelers | Gem Gossip Hunt County Jewelers | Gem Gossip Hunt County Jewelers | Gem Gossip Hunt County Jewelers | Gem Gossip Hunt County Jewelers | Gem Gossip Hunt County Jewelers | Gem Gossip

I like to gift jewelry during the holidays, for many obvious reasons, but the main one being that jewelry is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Personalization is an aspect I take very seriously when it comes to jewelry because I think it makes it even more special. However, not everyone wants a name plate necklace, or monogram piece...we're talking personalization on a subtle scale: birthstone jewelry!

Luckily, Hunt Country Jewelers exists because they create some of the best birthstone jewels around. The secret to their success is that they are able to import gemstone rough straight from the source, from all over the world, and cut it themselves! They get most of their rough from East Africa, but they also import from China, South America and even Russia, occasionally. This is truly a small business that does it all--from rough to finished piece. The variety of gemstones that they offer is quite vast, so they truly have a birthstone for every month!

The above photos are all unique gemstones from Hunt Country Jewelers--you've got aquamarine, peridot and tourmaline in the first photo, along with peridot, pearls, amethyst, citrine, and more aquamarine. The photo with the rings features sapphire, tanzanite and zircon! So juicy and bold, you can see why gemstone jewelry makes a wonderful gift and the quality you get from Hunt Country Jewelers is unlike any other!

I absolutely love birthstone jewelry and think it makes a great holiday gift because the possibilities are endless! The gemstone doesn't have to represent the intended person--it could stand for children, significant others, or even the month in which something eventful/meaningful happened. I lucked out because I adore my birthstone: sapphires! However, I also love opals and although I wasn't born in October, I did get married in October, so in my world, opals are just as much my stone as are sapphires. You can do this too!

To give you a run down on the birthstones by month:

January: Garnet

February: Amethyst

March: Aquamarine, Bloodstone

April: Diamond

May: Emerald

June: Pearl, Alexandrite, Moonstone

July: Ruby

August: Peridot, Spinel, Sardonyx

September: Sapphire

October: Opal, Tourmaline

November: Citrine, Topaz

December: Zircon, Turquoise, Tanzanite

Source: American Gem Society

Be sure to check out Hunt Country Jewelers online, where you'll find a large selection of both loose gemstones and finished jewelry all available from the click of a button. If you're in the Purcellville, VA area, make sure to stop by--their showroom is gorgeous!

This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with Hunt Country Jewelers.

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