Photographed by Audrey Melton.
The Experts: Marcia Hall, owner, and Amber Johnson, store manager, Diamonds & Rust
Let’s do a little trend forecasting — is there anything we should be looking to nab this fall?
Amber: "Chunky. Our customers love chunk. Lots of costume rings, bracelets, necklaces. Very chunky."
Marcia: "Because of The Great Gatsby
and Downton Abbey
, a lot of people are coming in looking for '20s and '30s looks."
Any tips for telling if a piece of jewelry is going to fall apart after one wear?
Amber: "My best advice is hands-on comparison. You’ll be able to feel the difference between a good piece, which is usually heavier."
Marcia: "For costume jewelry that has rhinestones, always look for prongs that are holding on to the stones. That will last longer than something that is glued in. For a true vintage pin, for example, it’ll have a c-clasp. That’s how we identify that a piece is really old and not a reproduction."
What about jewels? Any tricks for telling if something’s the real thing?
Amber: "There’s tons of different tricks. For real pearls, if you bite down on it, it should be gritty like sand. If it’s a faux pearl, it would be perfectly smooth, like plastic. For real Bakelite, if you rub it, it gives off a certain sulfur odor. Jade is typically cooler to the touch. For fine jewelry, you can ask if the piece has been appraised and ask for the appraisal, if so. For gold and silver, you always want to look for what we call the ‘hallmarks.' On gold, you want to look for the numbers. Same with silver. Some hallmarks are symbols, like little lions. In the early 1900s, it wasn’t required for fine pieces to be marked, so some real pieces may not necessarily be marked. You can always test it, too."
Are there any common traps?
Amber: "When you’re at a flea market, beware of pieces that say 'gold-filled' or 'gold-plated.' I was at a flea market and was looking at a piece that had a ‘K’ for gold on it and a little ‘p’ next to it, which means gold-plated. You have to watch out. They try to fool you sometimes."
Marcia: "For a popular designer like Miriam Haskell, for example, some sellers will get a piece that’s in bad shape and just take off the clasp and attach it to another piece. In those situations, with designers like Miriam Haskell, there are very strong characteristics to identify that it’s truly a Haskell. You just have to know those characteristics."