UPDATED 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. While 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.
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.
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).
I’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.
As 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.