fakes

Identifying Georgian and Victorian Fakes

fakesUPDATED FEBRUARY 2016 

I love Georgian and Victorian jewelry and am horrified by the quantity of fakes on the market.  In an attempt to bring these fakes to light, I’ve been undertaking an intense study of reproductions that are available for sale. fakesWhile these pieces are being sold as “reproductions” by their manufacturers, they rapidly hit the secondary market as genuine antiques, sometimes by unscrupulous dealers, and sometimes by people who genuinely believe they are old. Studying fakes won’t necessarily teach you how to spot genuine antiques, but it will hopefully help prevent you from making purchasing mistakes.

The Fakes that Started it All

This brooch below has been available on eBay for at least several years, being sold  as Victorian Reproduction Rose Cut Diamond Georgian Flower Brooch.  However, I’ve seen this brooch, and other pieces clearly made by the same manufacturer, being sold online and at antique markets (including a couple in England) as authentic Georgian or early Victorian.

Georgian Reproduction Brooch
The Reproduction Brooch on eBay that Started it All

During a trip to a local antique market I saw this brooch being  sold as part of a parure consisting of necklace, earrings, ring, and brooch.  It was being offered for a mere $5000 because, as the dealer said, it is rare to find and entire parure from the early 19th century!  Which is true, of course for genuine early 19th century jewely.  However, iff you’ve clicked the link to the brooch on eBay, you’ll see that it can be bought new for $199!  There are a couple of minor differences between the eBay example above, and the one I saw at the market in the exact arrangement of little florets, but it is obvious that this jewelry is made modularly and assembled using the different components of big leaf, small leaf, big flower, small floret, and three-lobed leaf.

fake
Full Parure of fake Georgian or early Victorian jewelry
Back of fake Georgian/early Victorian necklace
Back of fake Georgian/early Victorian necklace
Resources

I’ve previously written two articles for the Ruby Lane blog about identifying fake Georgian and Victorian jewelry.   Part One focuses on what is available for sale online.  Part Two focuses on items for sale at gem and bead shows (unfortunately, when Ruby Lane changed the formatting of their blog, my photos disappeared from the post).

fakesI’ve also been putting together a Pinterest board of the most convincing Georgian and Victorian reproductions offered for sale online (click here for a link to my Pinterest board)

All of the photos in this post are of reproductions that were available for sale online and there are many more on my Pinterest board.  As you can see, some of them are quite good, at least from the front.  In most cases only  photos of the front were available, so many details of construction weren’t visible, nor was there information as to whether the pieces are signed or otherwise marked.  However, when I visited the gem and bead show to examine pieces being sold as Victorian and Georgian reproductions, none of them were signed, which allows them to easily hit the secondary market as fakes.

fakesAs I discover new repros for sale I update my Pinterest board, so bookmark it and check back regularly (JULY 2015: I have added a lot of new items to this Pinterest Board).  And if you know of an online source of fakes, let me know in the comments and I’d love to add it to the board.

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7 thoughts on “Identifying Georgian and Victorian Fakes”

  1. OMG! I wish I found this earlier! I have been collecting Georgian and Victorian Jewelry for several yrs. now. I had (thought I’d) done a thorough job with researching, buying books, gem testers, metal testers and even collecting strange old hallmarkings, but after looking at your pins (some of which I had favorited on ebay) and knowing my own collection, I think I may have been seriously duped on an expensive piece. In fact I almost don’t want to know, b/c I truly love the earrings 🙁
    What I’m wondering is, do you have any examples of genuine Georgian silver and diamond jewelry? Did they ever use a leaf motif? My earrings have a three petaled leaf motif, although they are far better done then the examples you posted?!
    I see the fakes from India listed regularly in the vintage section of ebay, and actually there is a woman who re sells them as well…. Sadly she isn’t even smart enough to hide her buying history, and anyone who checks can see she buys in bulk from India. It truly upsets me to see these, not only as a collector, but also as an occasional seller (when the collection needs down sizing). The Garnet pieces certainly would have fooled me!

    1. Hi Jasmine,

      I’m glad that this blog post has been helpful to you. I have several examples of genuine Georgian jewelry in my Ruby Lane shop although most of it is paste, rock crystal, agate, or garnet, not diamond. Without seeing your piece it’s hard for me to know whether it’s genuine. Do you have the Olivia Collings/Ginny Reddington “Georgian Jewellery” book? If you don’t, I suggest you get it. Also, I once had a pair of earrings with leaf motifs that I purchased as part of an auction lot with very reputable provenance, and that had been listed as Georgian. But I had never seen Georgian earrings that looked like them so I held on to them and did a lot of research. Finally, I discovered that they were Russian, and Georgian-era. If you don’t already have it, “Russian Jewellery 16th-20th Centuries” is a good book and shows pieces that I haven’t seen in other books, which mainly have British and French jewelry.

      Lisa

  2. Hi Lisa. Love the site and the Pinterest boards. I have a beautiful brooch and think it’s paste, would you be able to tell me if it is an antique or point me in the direction of how to find out… Many thanks.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thank you for your nice comments. If you send me a message via the “Comment” box in the left-hand bar on the homepage, I’ll send you my email address and you can send me photos and I’ll try to help.

      Lisa

    1. Thank you Yulia,

      I intend to continue to post these reproductions whenever I find a new source of them. And if you come across any sources, let me know, because I’d love to add them to the Pinterest board.

      Best wishes,
      Lisa

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