Monday, January 25, 2010

Researching… Costume Jewelry

My wife and I visit in excess of 4000 garage sales, estate sales, auctions, and homesteads every year. Multiply that by the 31 dealers currently at A Classy Flea and you can imagine that we come across a myriad of interesting finds. Fortunately, one of the biggest joys I receive from working at A Classy Flea is that I love to research the more interesting things that I come across. I am lucky that I have the ability to remember much of what I have researched and am able to apply that knowledge when I come across similar items later. The other dealers in our shop know they can use me as a resource for identifying and assisting in valuing their finds. Lately, they have been bugging me to share my secrets so they can research their items without taking my time, so that is what is prompting this weekly blog.

costume jewelry Shelley and I have just become interested in jewelry over the last 2 to 3 years. It is so much fun to rummage through old jewelry boxes looking for that special find. It is a real treat for us when we are able to purchase an entire collection, just so we can go through it, cleaning them to their original glory, imagining the places they have been, and discovering when they were made and by whom. Jewelry

There are 2 things that I first look for when trying to place a value on jewelry; fine metal marks and maker’s marks. Fine metal marks have become mostly standardized throughout the world. If the item is silver in color, the ‘good’ marks are “800”, “925” and “Sterling”. Metal in its pure state is much too soft to be used in jewelry. It would get dented and misshapen too easily during normal use and would quickly lose its beautiful appearance. “Sterling” is the common term for an alloy made up of silver and another metal to give it more strength. Sterling silver is commonly considered to be made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of another metal. This also relates to the “925” mark. The “800” mark simply shows the item is made of an alloy that is 80% silver and 20% another metal and is usually found on older, European items. (For more information on silver marks see next week’s blog!)

Gold Jewelry Most of you are aware that pure gold is considered 24 karats and is referred to as 24K. Again, pure gold is much too soft to be used in jewelry and is most often used in gold plating. You will usually find ‘real’ gold jewelry marked 22K, 18K, 14K, or 10K. These, again, are alloys of pure gold and another metal. For example, a ring marked 18K is actually 75% gold (18 divided by 24). You may also find a gold ring marked “750” which is identical to 18K. Using the same logic, 22K=917, 14K=583, and 10K=417.

Earrings There are other gold marks to be wary of. I have seen many dealers get excited when they find a ring marked 18K-RGP. A similar mark that is often overlooked is something similar to
14K-GF. It’s easy to see the 18K or 14K and think you have just made a great find. “RGP” stands for “Rolled Gold Plate” and “GF” stands for “Gold Filled”. An item that is marked RGP has less than 1/60th of it’s weight made up of the marked gold. So an item marked 18K-RGP is only 1.25% pure gold! An item marked “GF” actually has a thicker layer of gold over the base metal and must be at least 10% of the total weight of the metal. Even so, an item marked 14K-GF is still less than 6% real gold.
Another special case you may find is gold jewelry, usually bracelets, that are marked “925”. This is commonly called vermeil and is made of a base of sterling silver with a very fine plating of 10K or 14K gold on top. The amount of actual gold is insignificant and we usually price these items as if they were sterling – which they are!

costume jewelry Obviously, the majority of the jewelry we come across is loosely referred to as Costume Jewelry. This is jewelry that was typically made in the 1940’s – 1970’s that was low on cost but high on show. Though they were low cost, many of the older designers were high style and actually very high quality. The collectability, and therefore the value, of a specific piece is a combination of colors, design, maker and age. A lot of this is subjective, but it is necessary to know who made the piece and when. Most of this can be derived from the maker’s mark on the piece.

Though there are many websites dedicated to the identifying of costume jewelry, there is only one that I have come to rely on: “Researching Costume Jewelry” at Illusions Jewels:

The ladies at Illusion Jewels have created and identification guide that looks exactly how I would have asked for one to be designed! Just scroll down the main page a little way and you will find an index to the first letter of the maker’s mark:

And what kind of information can you expect to find on their site? Here’s an example of one maker, Schiaparelli: (click on the picture to see a larger version)rcj3

The information includes the years the company was in business, the different marks they used, and most importantly, the approximate dates the individual marks were used.

Here is my calendar of future “Researching…” blogs:
February 1: Silver and Silver Plate
February 8: English Pottery
February 15: US Pottery
February 22: German Pottery
March 1: Chinese Pottery
March 8: General Web Research
March 15: Resource Books?
Please let me know if there are other types of collectables you would like information about researching!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tablescape Thursday #12

tablescape Thanks for joining us for our twelfth Tablescape Thursday.  Be sure to visit our good friend Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for links to all of the other tablescapes this week. As always, click on any picture below to see a larger version for more detail.

It has been a while since we have posted to our blog and to all of our followers, we apologize. I am going to start back slowly with 2 posts each week: Tablescape Thursday and Research Monday. Susan at Between Naps on the Porch has not only put countless hours into maintaining her blog and encouraging others with her tablescapes, she has always been open with the joy she receives from shopping at A Classy Flea. One of the joys I get from working at A Classy Flea is the wealth of knowledge I acquire while researching many of the fabulous finds that come into our doors. The most common question I get from our dealers is “where do you get your information” and I will be addressing this question on the Monday blog. -Glenn

While emptying some boxes of treasures that have been in the office for many months, I found some great looking pink depression glass. This was the inspiration I needed to create a new tablescape.
Jeannette Holiday Glassware These were made by the Jeannette Glass Company of Jeannette, PA and this pattern, “Holiday”, was introduced in 1947. You will also see this pattern referred to as “Button and Bows”. Jeannette “Holiday” 10 oz. Footed Tumbler: $12.95 ea (BJS)Jeannette “Holiday” Tea/Coffee Cup: $4.95 ea (BJS)
Jeannette “Holiday” Footed Sherbert (w/rays): $9.95 ea (BJS)

Fortunately, a wonderful round table with 4 chairs had just come into the shop. With the weather warming up in Atlanta and the pink glasses to work from, I decided to go for an informal Springtime look.

I started with some mint green placemats to help highlight the unusual chargers.
Charger I loved how the pattern in the chargers played off the carving around the edge of the table.
Green “Kohl’s” Placemats: $1.00 ea (SHEL)
Plastic Molded Chargers with ivy design: $1.95 for 4 (SHEL)

Wandering through the store ‘shopping’ for plates, I found these cabbage plates in a cabinet in Barb’s space. I see these all the time in green, but rarely in pink.
Cabbage Leaf Plate The chargers act perfectly to border the plates against the placemats. The brighter pink color helps with the spring palette.
Bordallo Pinheiro Red Cabbage Plates: $5.95 ea! (B)

You can’t have a Spring theme tablescape without a floral pattern dish, can you! I had a number of dishes to choose from but the one I found in Julia’s space had the green accent stripe that went so well with the placemats.
Selston Plate She has a number of these dishes in her booth in many sizes and support pieces. This is the “Selston” pattern and was made by Woods and Son Pottery in Burslem, England during the early 1930’s.
Selston Dinner Plates: $7.95 ea! (ALLI)

You can’t eat without flatware and Phyllis has a set of silverplate that just goes with the theme!
Silverplate Flatware Made by Rogers Brothers in the very popular “Remembrance” pattern, there is just a touch of a flower to add to the look.
Rogers Bros. Silverplate  “Remembrance: $75 8 place setting (PHL)

Putting it all together, here is what the place setting looks like:
Place Setting

Yes, you can see a hint of what I used for a centerpiece. There are actually 3 separate items that I’m grouping as a centerpiece, all coming originally from Fitz and Floyd:
Fitz and Floyd Tureen Pitcher 
Vase  From the top:
Fitz and Floyd Swan Soup Tureen w/ladle: $95.00 (SIS)
Fitz and Floyd Swan Pitcher: $25.00 (SIS)
Fitz and Floyd Swan Vase: $25.00 (SIS)

And here’s a close-up of the Franciscan creamer and sugar:
Creamer and Sugar

Franciscan Desert Rose Creamer: $19.95 (PHL)
Franciscan Desert Rose Sugar Bowl w/Lid: $19.95 (PHL)

Tablescape #12 Tablescape #12

Bernhardt Table, Wide Leaf and 4 Chairs with Leather Seats: $1200 (SIS)

Many thanks to Gretchen (GRE) for helping me with many of the design decisions in putting this table together!