How do you determine the value of the unique unmarked costume jewelry that you come across when cleaning and decluttering the house or when finally cleaning out the old boxes in the attic, basement, or garage?
How do you make sure that the old, tarnished pieces of jewelry aren’t just cheap or worthless and that they are actually worth something? Perhaps they are worthy antiques.
What you may not know about the old or vintage-style ornaments from the 1920s and or up to the 1950s is that despite them being more of ornamental pieces, they may be worthy pieces, depending on the materials they were made of and the degree of workmanship that the pieces were made of.
The most effective and natural way of determining the value of the costume jewelry is to look out for the jewelry’s hallmark. Even the oldest of jewelry brands made use of some form of stamps of hallmarks that helped to identify the jewelry and to set them apart from other brands.
Whether the costume jewelry piece was from Coco Chanel, Monet, or any other brands, they would all have some form of identification marks on them.
Unfortunately, most of the oldest versions of costume jewelry may not have the jeweler’s marks, which makes the identification process even more difficult, hence the need for alternative methods for identifying the unmarked pieces of costume jewelry.
So, how do you easily identity the unmarked pieces?
How to identify unmarked costume jewelry
If you want to determine if the unmarked costume jewelry has a green discoloration, it certainly means that the piece has a high copper content.
Despite the level of intricacy, the green color means that the jewelry is definitely a low-value piece, and you shouldn’t worry about them being valuable.
As they say, the devil is in the detail. So, for you to determine the value and perhaps the age of the pieces of costume jewelry, you should look out for the unique features of the jewelry.
In most cases, if the details on the piece of jewelry appear sloppy or if they are running together, that would mean that the pieces are cheap and not worth much.
However, it is mostly clean, despite being in the house for a long time, and if the details are clear, intricate, and well-crafted, then it’s a higher quality piece of costume jewelry that would be worth something.
How to identify unmarked Schreiner’s costume brooches
Some of the things you should look out for in the unmarked costume brooches are as follows:
- The Hook & Eye Construction
The hook and eye construction at the back of the brooches is a great first step in determining the value of the brooches.
In most cases, the brooches are made using more than one part and are linked together using a metal wire that forms the hook, fitting through the loop-shaped finding or the eye, holding the brooch components together. This is generally a cool technique that points to high-quality designer pieces that would be worth something.
- Inverted Stones
If you are a collector and you have some Schreiner pieces, you should look out for the inverter stones in pieces. Often, the inverted stones are in the form of regular rhinestones in round and pear shapes, among others.
Generally, the Schreiner pieces of jewelry don’t have any foil on the back of the costume jewelry’s back, and this remains one of the most popular remedies and identifiers of the Schreiner pieces and the rest of their vintage jewelry varieties. So, look out for the inverted stones to identify the jewelry, even without the markings.
- Crimped stone cups and dogtooth prongs
Schreiner’s brooches are also easily identifiable by the crimped stone cups and the dog tooth prongs that come in different designs and shapes.
Although several other companies use the same design elements, you can still identify the pieces of jewelry by looking at these functions, in addition to the hook and eye construction.
The other notable thing about the costume jewelry pieces by Schreiner is the use of specialty tones. The designs of their brooches feature the use of very beautiful art glass pieces, as well as the high-quality glass pearls in very intricate designs.
And with some of the brooches, they have large keystones in the highly coveted ruffle brooches commissioned by Schreiner. The stones also feature unique designs and settings that hold the pieces together. Some of the brooches are handmade trademarks.
- Recurring Settings
This is the other feature that you can look out for in the older and unmarked pieces of costume jewelry. The recurring settings on the brooches are made skilfully, with the colors and the shapes of the stones transforming the jewelry pieces entirely.
Designer brands, Jewelry features, and materials used
The other thing that makes it easy for you to identify the unmarked pieces of costume jewelry would be by determining what materials they are made of. The jewelry brands are made of different materials, depending on the brand.
So, if you are looking at an Eisenberg piece of jewelry, for example, the jewelry will be identified by the use of fine materials like Swarovski crystals, with bold designs, and rhodium-plated metals with prong and the bezel settings popular for the jewelry.
Hobe’s costume jewelry, on the other hand, stands out because the pieces were made of vermeil or gold-plated silver, as well as platinum, and also the paste and the semi-precious stones.
The designs from the Parisian goldsmiths also stand out because of the exotic designs, as well as the reproductions and the exotic designs by the European royalty.
Then you have the costume jewelry designs by Marcel Boucher, which have not only the finest skills in jewelry design but also the most innovative and exquisite metalwork designs, along with rhinestones in multiple colors and cuts.
The colors of the enamel enamels are all shaded expertly. Costume jewelry pieces by Christian Dior, for example, not only transformed the world of fashion post World War II but also had all their jewelry pieces dated and signed. Their jewelry pieces have unique settings and stones, and they are all quite striking.
Maison Gripoix is also behind some of the most alluring costume designs, and their glass jewelry is identifiable by their unique techniques for glass pouring, resulting in the creation of very subtle jewelry designs in subtle colors and also in a varying degree of opacity and translucency that makes the jewelry different from most other designs and jewelry brands.
Joseff of Hollywood – their brooches are mostly made of Russian gold, which is the semi-matter made with a nice copper-gold finish.
Kenneth Jay Lane’s costume jewelry pieces were mostly marked, but others were not. They feature reworkings and unique designs with a nice depth in color, as well as the Greco-Roman, Medieval, Egyptian, Art Deco, and Renaissance styles.
Most of the costume jewelry pieces by Elsa Schiaparelli were unmarked, though, but they stand out thanks to the highly-stylized and surrealist-inspired, quirky designs in floral, planetary, milky way, and even celestial light designs. There also were abstract jewelry designs that all made Elsa a big brand.
Other costume jewelry designs and designers whose works were mostly unsigned include Weiss, known for the antiqued gold tones, and reproductions made of German smoky Quartz crystals, which were known as the black diamonds. The stones were set on silver and gold alloys that were either enameled or made of the dull black finish after they were japanned.
Importance of unmarked costume jewelry identification
If you are looking for the best antique jewelry, it’s worth mentioning that the jewelry manufacturers of the antique costume pieces referred to as jobbers mostly made the jewelry with specific markings, but this wasn’t the case always, and a majority of jewelry options from then have no markings.
This means that even the oldest unmarked pieces would be quite valuable, but you’d have to know how to identify the jewelry, especially without any markers.
It’s also worth noting that because the jobbers would take orders from different jewelry brands or manufacturers, which means that most of the unmarked jewelry pieces are from different manufacturers, making it even harder to identify the jewelry.
Unfortunately, without more comprehensive or specific chemical and physical tests, it would be impossible for you to accurately identify the unmarked pieces of jewelry. So, you may have to take the jewelry to a professional jeweler to determine the value of the jewelry, especially if it has a beautiful level of craftsmanship.
It’s not easy to identify the unmarked costume jewelry, but knowing the elements of costume jewelry by different designers known for their antique pieces allows you to determine the value of the pieces.
In most cases, however, it is a guessing game, especially because most of the older pieces are very delicate, and testing the metals will not be that easy.
So, you may have to familiarize yourself with the different jewelry designs known for their antiques, and this will give you a guide on what you should know about the jewelry.
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.