By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Brooches, often referred to as pins, are making a big fashion comeback these days. Ladies are discovering the beauty of antique and vintage brooches, as well. I’m thrilled over this renewed interest! I have always been a brooch gal.
You’ll find many beautiful vintage brooches at bargain prices these days at your favorite antique shop or flea market. Just be sure to keep in mind the following to get the most for your hard earned money:
1. Check functionality
Pin stems and clasps need to be checked as follows:
Make sure pin stems aren’t so bent or rusted that they could break apart. If there is some rust, it can be removed with a cotton swab dipped in ketchup (the acid in the ketchup works wonders on jewelry rust). Allow the ketchup to remain on the pin stem for at least 15 minutes. Then remove all ketchup with another swab dipped in warm water. Be careful to avoid getting ketchup on other areas of the brooch.
Make sure clasps open and close properly. Make sure the clasp is secure on the back of the brooch. If it wobbles when pushed gently back and forth with your fingertip, it could break away from the brooch if it is not secured by a screw, rivet or pin. On real gold or silver brooches, a jeweler may be able to solder clasps back on. However, it’s usually not cost effective to have brooches made of non-precious metals repaired.
2. Check for missing/replaced stones:
This is where a jeweler’s 10X loupe becomes handy. You can view the brooch under magnification with this handy tool. They are available at craft stores or on the Internet for under $20.
If you are absolutely in love with a vintage brooch with missing stones, realize that if the stones are in colors other than white, you might not be able to find replacement stones. Realize too, that the best quality brooches will have prong set stones. There are tons of older beauties with pasted in stones, but you must realize that the glue used to set them in place will eventually become brittle. That means if you fall in love with a brooch with glued stones, wear it only occasionally or risk losing stones over time.
3. Check for repairs:
This is not a concern for inexpensive vintage brooches, as it is not cost effective for dealers to repair them. However, if you are paying over $50, check the brooch over carefully. If you noticed different color solder, messy glue blobs, gold-tone or silver-tone paint, discoloration, or other non-uniform characteristics, beware. If you love the brooch anyway, ask for a reduced price because of the obvious repair.
4. Check for worn, cracked or flaking metal coatings:
In older brooches, the gold-tone or silver-tone coatings often become worn or cracked or start to flake. This damage can’t be repaired. Proceed with caution. You won’t want to wear such a brooch on white or similar light clothing, as it might discolor it. There are many lovely vintage brooches with this condition problem. I have many in my own collection. But I don’t wear them with my light color clothing.
If you keep these four tips in mind when shopping for vintage brooches, you’ll be sure to get the best pieces for your money. Happy shopping!
Do you have a favorite vintage brooch? Be sure to tell us about it in the comments section. And if you love vintage and antique jewelry as much as we do, be sure to sign up for this blog.
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems, jewelry and fashion. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques. Current projects include ghostwriting jewelry and fashion blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her to write for you? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms and more information.
About This Blog:
The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!