Vintage jewelry hardware refers to the various types of clasps, pins, earring backs, rings, and other elements used to create jewelry.
These are also called “findings.” Techniques and elements have evolved over time, so knowing the types of hardware used during various eras will help you to properly date your vintage and antique jewelry.
You can read the other articles in this series here: Part 1: Vintage Jewelry Marks: Help for Dating Your Vintage Jewelry Part 2: Silver Jewelry Marks: Learn to Identify and Date Silver Jewelry Part 3: Vintage Jewelry Patents: Find and Use them to Date Vintage Jewelry So let’s get started learning about vintage jewelry hardware.
The earliest type of brooch clasp is a simple hook, also known as the C-clasp, since the hook is shaped like the letter “C.” It was used well into the 1930s.
An antique, according to the federal government (United States Customs) is an item over 100 years old.
For the purposes of dating antique hardware we typically rely on the date of an antique hardware catalogue which shows the item or, in some instances, the age of the building it was removed from. It's usually very hard to tell the difference but, in general, brass will have a yellow color and bronze will have a more rose color.
Fittings refer to the parts that can be custom-made for a piece.
There are many more clues than just five, but these are quick and easy ways to help determine the age of your jewelry.
The invention of different earring findings will help date your jewelry.
One of the most interesting things about antique doorknob identification is that the experienced collector can tell the difference between a doorknob belonging to a commercial building and one belonging to a residence.
This is especially so for doorknobs from the Victorian era, when architects had doorknobs designed to compliment the style of the building they were creating.