Monday, January 7, 2008

Condition and Vintage Jewelry

Condition is an important aspect in evaluating vintage jewelry. Value is directly linked to condition with mint or excellent pieces bringing nearly twice what good pieces might bring.

For a collector, condition is just part of the equation. Some pieces due to rarity, may be worth purchasing even when in less than perfect shape. The Dog Jewelry Museum acquires pieces in a variety of conditions and upgrades individual pieces when a better one comes along.

The piece with the lady and two Scotties listed as fair (below) is missing a bar across the bottom that the pin fastens to. Also missing is the Staret mark (which is on the bar). An intact Staret brooch like this in excellent condition would be worth seven or eight hundred dollars in today's market. In this condition, it was acquired for about seventy five dollars.

Different collectors use slightly different terms to describe condition. At the Dog Jewelry Museum we use the following:
  • Excellent--in perfect or near perfect condition. Enamel is complete, finish is unmarred, 95% or more of the rhinestones are bright (with remaining stones replaceable), all parts are intact and orginal to the piece. The 1928(R) piece below is brand new on its original card.

    Brand new piece in EXCELLENT condition.

  • Very good--enamel is intact, but may show minor rubbing or a few scratches, finish may be very slightly marred or worn on high spots, most rhinestones are in good or better condition, all parts are intact, minor parts (such as the pin stem in a brooch) may be replaced if replacement is a good match to original. The carved wooden mechanical pin shows some paint loss on the dog's nose, a few minor scuffs to the wood, and wear to the red collar on the cat. The pin mechanism and swivel head work perfectly.

    Here's an example of a VERY GOOD condition piece.

  • Good--enamel shows a few chips, finish may be worn up to about 20% of the piece. Rhinestones are mostly in good shape, but some may have grayed or be missing. Some small breakage may be evident, but not affecting wearablity. The poodle below is in good condition.

    GOOD condition, note back of hat is broken, enamel worn on brim.

  • Fair--significant loss to finish or enamel, major break in piece (see the Staret below), or major loss to difficult to replace rhinestones or other sets.

    Example of piece in FAIR conditon.

  • Poor--severely broken, unrepairable, not restorable.
Many pieces can be carefully cleaned and restored. Not every piece should be cleaned (sterling silver is a good example as the patina often adds to the value). A good discussion of cleaning and repairing vintage costume jewelry is available at the Sparklz website.

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