Faux Friday: Plastic, Odd Materials and Repairs

June 11, 2010

Use of plastic or materials that are not developed in the contemporary time frame of a piece are obvious things to look out for. There is quite a culture of ‘doctoring’ pieces by removing scratched or worn glass compartments and replacing them with plastic (or glass). Remember to test if you are unsure, but usually unnecessary bevelling and flat pieces of glass or plastic may take the place of an elegant Neo-Classical curve to a brooch, pendant or ring.

Enamel work is also a popular aspect of repairing. Spotted enamel work (mismatching) or a piece looking just far too clean for its age raise many questions. Be careful with anything that seems too perfect and remember that most pieces have lived many hundreds of years.

Also, materials often dictate their times; some older materials were in fashion at later dates (such as silver and marcasite).

Different Metals
Metal mismatching in jewellery is used for effect or not at all. When a piece, such as a pendant and chatelaine combination, does not match, or a ring has an odd shank and bezel, one must wonder why these pieces are mismatched with their metal work. Often they are marriages of pieces and there is a culture of constructing greater pieces from lesser in order to gain more money for them.

Solder Marks
Solder marks are a good sign of repair work or change in a piece. The biggest problem with earlier pieces is that they have been converted from one type to another, such as brooch to ring. Solder marks are good ways of spotting changes to pieces and one can often find a good continuity to the life of a piece if studied correctly. These may be as small as the change of a brooch clasp or as large as the conversion of a ring.

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