Certified and Accredited jewelry appraisers have years of appraisal experience, extensive training and demonstrated knowledge through examinations in appraisal theory, valuation science, the rules and regulations of professional appraisal practice, and peer reviews of their work product.
You would never accept a house appraisal from the seller or any of the real estate brokers who are earning a commission from the transaction. So why accept a jewelry appraisal from someone who buys, sells, or brokers?
History of Antique Jewelry Appraisals
Almost everyone is curious about old jewelry. Maybe it’s because most people have a piece or two tucked away somewhere. It could be a locket belonging to a grandmother or a pin handed down in the family. Along with most jewelry, come unanswered questions: How old is it? Is it valuable? How much is it worth?
Only a few years ago, if you needed an appraisal, you asked your local jeweler, who scribbled a one-line handwritten note. Usually the appraisal was free of charge, accommodating you only because as a customer you held the promise of a future sale. The price your jeweler may have assigned to the jewelry was done without regard for market research, legalities, or ethics. In most instances, the estimate was no more than a completed sales receipt.
Jewelry employers, eager to gain an advantage over their competitors by advertising an experienced, well-educated staff, usually pushed gemologists into the role of appraiser. Assured by their bosses and gemological instructors that gemological training constituted knowledge of appraisal, gemologists took on this role and muddled through the subsequent difficulties. No one ever asked jewelers if they knew about the differences between value and price.
As collecting antique gems and jewelry became more popular as an investment instrument, consumers began to demand more detailed and precise reports with exact definitions and figures of ‘value’. While gemologists could identify and grade, they were not qualified to substantiate their ‘value’ judgments or logically explain how a piece of jewelry’s ‘value’ was estimated. To make matters worse, no universal appraisal standards existed in the industry.
Who is a Qualified Antique Jewelry Appraiser?
Simply being a Graduate Gemologist, working in a jewelry store or at an estate auction house does not qualify one as an antique jewelry expert. Qualified antique jewelry appraisers have undertaken specialized classes for vintage and antique jewelry, demonstrated their expertise through rigid examinations, and annually attend continuing education seminars.
Look for designations from professional appraisal associations such as Certified Master Appraiser (CMA), Accredited Senior Member (ASA), Master Gemological Appraiser (MGA). Individuals with these designations represent the pinnacle of jewelry appraisers and you can be confident your antique jewelry appraisal will be performed with the highest degree of professionalism.
In the event you need an appraisal for estate tax preparation, gift, charitable donation purposes, casualty loss, bankruptcy, or marriage asset management, the IRS recognizes the above designations as qualified jewelry appraisers. Most jewelry appraisers do not meet the IRS definition of a qualified appraiser, nor do they produce IRS defined qualified appraisals. The IRS regularly rejects or revalues appraisals performed by unqualified appraisers. Our appraisals comply with IRS and local jurisdiction standards and meet the highest professional standards.
It is a common practice in antique jewelry for the appraiser (or the firm) to buy, sell, or broker antique jewelry. The integrity of the appraiser, the appraisal and its valuations are highly suspect, as a bias exists with the individual undertaking the assignment.
New England Gem Appraisals, LLC is not in the business of buying, selling, or brokering. You can be assured your appraisal is unbiased and adheres to the highest ethical standards within our industry. We are committed to providing world-class service with personal attention, sensitivity, and confidentiality for our clientele.
When Was Antique Jewelry Made?
Georgian Period circa 1714 - 1837
The Georgian Period is named for the reign of four British King Georges. The period is known
as the “age of the faceted stone” and diamonds were popular. The early gemstone cut styles
were the table-cut, rose-cut, briolette, and the pendeloque. Because of the emphasis on
gemstones, most were reset as fashion demanded. Therefore, very few major pieces of
Georgian jewelry exist today. The few exceptional pieces of this period that have survived Georgian Era Diamond Ring
intact all show extraordinary craftsmanship.
In the early years of the period, the upper echelons of society, primarily royalty, mainly wore precious jewelry. Long dangling gemstone and diamond chandelier earrings, short graduated diamond and gemstone necklaces and chokers were popular to complement the low-cut necklines. Women also wore diamond and gemstone brooches, pins and pendants designed in girandole and pendeloque styles.
At the turn of the century, women’s fashions dramatically changed from large sweeping gowns to empire-waist dresses with short sleeves and low necklines. This style of dress was due to Europe’s fascination with ancient Roman and Greek culture. Jewelry designs were influenced by those ancient civilizations. Gold necklaces were worn with drop earrings. Other popular designs at this time were micro mosaics and cameos.
Towards the end of the period, women’s fashioned transformed again, with tight bodices and billowing sleeves. Goldsmiths developed intricate designs using twisted gold wire beaded cannetille filigree in flower designs accented with delicate beadwork designed to maximize the visual impact of an amount of gold.
Standards for gold in the Georgian Period were 18 karat or higher. The goldsmiths of the day were not only artisans, but also highly trained technicians and all items were handmade.
The Victorian era spanned 64 years and is divided into three major periods, The Early Victorian Period (known as the Romance Period) from 1837-1860, the Mid or High Victorian Period (known as the Grand Period) from 1860-1885, and the Late Victorian Period (known as the Aesthetic Period) from 1885-1901.
Early Victorian circa 1837 - 1861
The early years of the Victoria era has been described as romantic or sentimental and
reflected the youth, courtship and marriage of the young queen, Victoria. In 1840, Victoria
married Albert. The engagement ring he gave her was a snake with an emerald-set head. The
snake was a symbol of eternal love and the emerald was her birthstone. It was the beginning
of birthstones being used in Victorian engagement rings. Motifs in this era were primarily
pansies, animals, forget-me-nots, flowers, trefoils, grapes, hands, insects, starburst, horseshoe,
Victorian Diamond lizards, snakes, birds, and ivy.
Mid Victorian Period circa 1861 - 1885
Albert, the love of Victoria’s life, passed away in 1861. She was overwhelmed at his death, and mourned his death for the next 40 years.
Jewelry of the period included book chain necklaces, massive brooches and earrings, pique and tortoise shell, Egyptian, Italian, and Greek archeological influenced jewelry, revivalist, mourning jewelry, and mosaics. Opals, garnets and pearls were used as embellishments.
Late Victorian Period circa 1886 - 1901
With the proliferation of factories and modern machinery during the Industrial Revolution, metalworking could be performed on a mass scale and there was a corresponding drop in the cost of jewelry, which made pieces more accessible to the public. The technique for die stamping and gold plating led to the ability to mass-produce jewelry for the rising middle class. The mass produced jewelry often was engraved by hand and decorated with taille d’epergne enamel. Hinged bangle bracelets are probably the item most associated with the use of taille d’epergne enamelwork. Stamped gold was also used to create book chain necklaces that were used to suspend lockets.
The most popular gemstones were amethyst, aquamarine chrysoprase, chrysoberyl, opals, moonstones, sapphires, turquoise, and rubies. Silver, pinchback, and 9-karat gold were widely used metals for mass produced items.
Many of the stones used in Victorian jewelry were believed to possess mystic powers. Superstition and occultism were popular. Amethysts were often worn surrounded by seed pearl borders and were believed to protect the wearer and bring good luck. Bloodstone was believed to possess the power to stop bleeding. Coral was thought to ward off evil.
Art Nouveau Period circa 1895 - 1915
The term “Art Nouveau” originated in 1895 when an art gallery in Paris began featuring a new kind
of art, ’L’Art Nouveau.” The style of Art Nouveau jewelry takes from a number of different influences.
Europeans were fascinated with designs from nature. Impressionism was a major theme of the era.
Artists conveyed nature in a sensual and emotionally charged way, as opposed to merely a literal
interpretation of a flower. Soft, dreamy colors with flowing lines and cherub like images were the
order of the day.
Motifs such as orchids, irises, water lilies, and trailing vines became popular. Other popular motifs
were snakes, dragonflies, butterflies, birds, and sinister looking reptiles. Expert hand craftsmanship
and individual design was emphasized in opposition to the standardization of goods during the Art Nouveau Pendant
Industrial Revolution. Circa 1895
King Edward VII reigned over England for only nine years from 1901-1910, yet the style of jewelry known as “Edwardian” was popular until World War I broke out. Edwardian jewelry was understated and feminine in style. The hallmark of this era was the use of platinum in intricate designs. The strength of platinum allowed master jewelers to create delicate designs that had lace like appearance.
New techniques in cutting allowed for diamonds and gemstones to be cut and set to look
delicate in contrast to earlier diamonds of the Georgian and Victorian periods. New cuts
such as the marquise, emerald, baguette and briolette were often used in earrings and
lavaliere necklaces. Edwardian jewelry was created to complement the white silk and lace
being worn by affluent and stylish women. In addition to diamonds and natural pearls,
stones such as amethysts, peridots (a favorite of King Edward), blue sapphires, aquamarines,
alexandrites, and rubies were often used.
King Edward was passionate about horse racing, and horseshoes became a popular motif in
Edwardian Brooch Edwardian jewelry. Other popular and highly feminine motifs were stars, hearts, bows, garlands
Circa 1910 and flowers. Filigree details were added to the feminine nature of designs.
The Art Deco period replaced the soft tones of the Art Nouveau era with bold geometric and cubism designs coupled with dramatic contrasts of color. The discovery of King Tut’s tomb in the 1920’s created an international fervor known as “Egyptomania.” Jewelry designs with ancient Egyptian motifs such as falcons, scarabs and griffins appeared on jewelry. The gemstones found in the jewelry of King Tut’s tomb such as lapis lazuli, onyx, and carnelian was frequently used in Art Deco jewelry.
Popular during the Art Deco period were plaque and link bracelets created with bold geometric
and linear designs. Bracelets were made in the all-whitelook using platinum or white gold and
diamonds. Other jewelry was made using contrasts of brightly colored gemstones, such as rubies,
sapphires and emeralds creating a tutti-frutti look. Van Cleef and Arpels introduced the invisible
setting for gemstones in the 1930’s.
Technical advances in diamond cutting allowed diamonds to be cut into modern, three dimensional
geometric designs such as triangles, hexagons and octagons. The round brilliant cut diamond was
introduced into the market, eventually replacing the Old European, rose and single cut diamonds. Art Deco Platinum Diamond
& Sapphire Watch
Retro Period circa 1940 -1950 Circa 1925
The Retro Period is also known as Retro Modern. The streamlined geometric and linear looks of the Art Deco Period evolved to become larger and more thee dimensional with curves and asymmetric motifs.
During the war years, platinum was conscripted for the war effort. Because of the changes in availability of materials, jewelry designers focused on using large expanses of polished gold but relatively few gemstones. Bicolor and tricolor gold became the norm including rose (pink), yellow and white. Rose gold with its dramatic pink look, a result of the high percentage of copper in the alloy, was especially popular.
The prevalent themes of Retro Jewelry were feminine, patriotic, or industrial motifs.
Feminine styles included flowers, birds, ribbons, bows, scrolls and fabric like folds. Patriotic
and industrial styles included tank tread bracelets, with large repetitive links evolving tank
tracks and war industry production lines as well as red, white and blue stones used on
stylized flags and military type insignias.
Large gemstones such as citrine, aquamarine, tourmaline, peridot and amber accented
with smaller rubies, sapphires and diamonds dominated the market.
Retro Brooch by Mauboussin