Faux Friday: Conflicting Styles

May 14, 2010

If a piece has conflicting styles, such as an enamelled skull with an art deco shank or if a piece were a crystal in silver with marcasite, one must consider that there is a degree of mystery about it. On the more positive side, the real odd piece are full of questions and can be very rewarding to research. On the negative side, they are more often than not forgeries with inept construction. Conflicting style is more prevalent in modern pieces where the aim is to reap the rewards of the forgery. 19th century conflicts of style in forgeries are harder to discern, as they may have an honest pedigree with conflicting styles being part of a piece’s aesthetic.

Of note is this piece to the left. Now, the obvious question must be asked; is it genuine? Upon looking at the piece, even the untrained eye can spot the conflicting colours of the metal from the band to the bezel. This should immediately raise alarm bells for the collector, as it is not natural for a piece that it is trying to emulate. How so?

The band itself is using Rococo-styled flourishes, a method that would try and pin this style of piece (on the other side is a crystal with gold cypher initials which looks reasonably genuine.) S0, the seller has tried to put the piece into the paradigm of the early to mid 18th century, however the execution of the band is so naively done that it completely detracts from the reasonably genuine nature of the bezel.

Compare this with the piece to the right. The delicate gold work and the attention to the Rococo stylings is what one should look for in such a style, so for a collector, one must wonder when the Rococo band was added to the first piece. Would you consider it to be a 19th century addition, and if so, does that make it worthwhile in your eyes? Or do you think that jewellers of the 19th century would treat their subjects with a little more care, having been closer in years to the reality of the art style and using less mass-produced methods of construction?

The one reality is that it is a marriage of styles and any conflicts in a piece must be addressed before you buy.

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