The study of jewelry maker’s marks is a fascinating subject, steeped in history, culture, and also art. Often overlooked due to their intentionally covert location and also diminutive size, the etchings uncovered inscribed top top a item of modern-day or vintage jewelry sell a home window into the “who, what, and where” that the item – and also are well worth a significant look.

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From modern-day pieces to neck jewelry, letter markings on yellow jewelry, silver, and other metals have the right to offer valuable insight on the materials, epoch, and producer of a piece. Silver and also gold jewelry markings are generally known together purity marks, maker’s marks, symbols, or date letters.This jewel hallmarks guide can help explain what those small etchings actually average – and also how to ensure she buying the actual thing.

Jewelry Maker’s Marks: A short History

To be considered an antique, a item of jewelry have to be 100 year or older, if vintage jewelry should be much more than 20 years old to be classified as such. “Retro” jewelry refers to pieces made during the 1940s and ‘50s and are defined by the usage of large and vibrant gemstones.


Detail that maker’s marks on one Italian 18K yellow and rose yellow bracelet, mid 20th century. Marketed for $3,000 via Alex Cooper (October 2017).

Jewelry engraved v HGE (Heavy yellow Electroplate), GE (Gold Electroplate), or GF (Gold Filled) may show up to be made that gold, yet it is in reality fashioned from other materials such as copper and contains just a very little amount that gold.

Silver Purity Marks

Silver purity marks also specify steel content (for reference, sterling silver- is 92.5 percent pure silver). Therefore, for sterling silver, look because that marks that encompass “925,” “STERLING,” “STG,” or “STER.” store an eye out for metals that are etched v “German Silver” or “Nickel Silver.” this pieces room not consisted of of any silver at all, yet are actually created of copper, nickel, and zinc. If jewelry is marked with “Vermeil,” that is a piece of sterling silver topped off with gold plating.


A van Cleef & Arpels Diamond wave Ring in 18K (detail). Marketed for $1,500 via Alex Cooper (November 2016).

Van Cleef & Arpels jewel will also include a serial number accompanying the brand trademark. Depending upon the era of the piece, the maker’s note either reads “Van Cleef & Arpels” or the letters “VCA.”

Other symbols Stamped ~ above Jewelry

Aside native purity and maker’s marks, some jewelry will additionally bear symbols and letters, particularly hallmarks, inscriptions on it. Countless of this symbols and letters found on jewelry originate native assay offices.

Jewelry indigenous the unified Kingdom contains a collection of compulsory and also optional jewel marks set out by the countries’ assay offices. One of the compulsory marks is the Assay Office Mark, a symbol which shows the local office the hallmarked the item. Assay Office mark symbols include an anchor the signifies Birmingham, a lock for Edinburgh, a leopard’s head because that London, and also a climbed for Sheffield.


Detail of jewelry markings on a Bulgari “Parentesi” Diamond Necklace, available via Fortuna Auction (September 2018).

“International, particularly European, jewelry commonly has hallmarks, while American jewel is commonly stamped 14k or 18k,” claims Virginia Salem, head that the jewelry and also watches room at Freeman’s. “Hallmarks tell the story the the piece, and usually what nation the item came from, and also the artist and date made.”

The day letter stamp, a need for brother jewelry till 1999, is useful to know if you require to date a piece of vintage or retro jewelry. Silver pieces imprinted through a lion denotes 92.5 percent silver- — therefore sterling silver — while the Britannia mark way that it has 95.8 percent pure silver.

Starting in 1838, an eagle’s head stamped ~ above a piece of gold jewelry indicated that the jewelry was from France and also that it had a minimum of 18k gold. Additionally, a boar’s head to be the mark of the Paris assay office, when offices outside the resources city provided a crab emblem.

Tips for avoiding Counterfeit Jewelry

Since gold, silver, and branded jewel are very sought-after, encountering fake jewel is always a risk that collectors need to keep in mind. If you purchasing jewelry online, always ask for clear photos of the jewel marks native the seller to ensure the authenticity that a piece.

Auction houses and also jewelry certified dealer in particular are important resources for learning much more about jewel maker’s marks. Before bidding online or in-person, you can request added information from jewelry specialists have to you have any questions or concerns. As soon as bidding in ~ auction top top, because that example, an easy means to attach to specialists is to use the “Request an ext information” button located ~ above the product page. The same alternative exists if you considering a purchase from one dealer or gallery.

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The best way to safeguard versus buying imitation jewel is come familiarize yourself v the most vital jewelry marks and signature hallmarks of particular brands. While there are plenty of jewelry marks to know, additional resources for collectors incorporate the Birmingham Assay Office. Salem adds the Lang jewel University, i m sorry is fine documented and covers a wide selection of heritage jewelry, is also terrific reference guide for further detail about specific markings.

Ready to begin your search? explore antique and vintage jewelry easily accessible now top top Wonder what her vintage jewelry is worth? Click below to have it appraised by jewel specialists.