Restoring Antique Jewelry

April 5th, 2011 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG
Late Victorian Coral and Pearl Necklace

Late Victorian Coral and Pearl Necklace

When we buy estate jewelry, some pieces need repair or restoration. The keys to a successful jewelry restoration are to use similar materials for replacements, to keep the original finish and patina intact, and to retain as much of the original design as possible

We just finished putting this lovely late Victorian “Swag” necklace back together–when we purchased it, the chains were in tatters, and several pearls were missing.

Necklace before restoration

Necklace before restoration

We knew from the style of the period and from the existing pearl settings that the missing pearls were most likely American freshwater natural pearls.  Our good friend Gina Latendresse at American Pearl Company was able to supply three “Angel Wing” freshwater natual pearls and one roundish fw. natural pearl of the appropriate size and quality.  After studying the piece, we decided to use a diamond for the prong setting directly under the center oval coral–  curiously, the prongs showed no evidence of ever holding a gemstone, so the obvious choice was an Old European diamond from our stock of antique stones.

We love the style, the skillful metal work, and the bloomed gold finish typical of the period– we date it 1880 – 1920, late Victorian/Early Art Nouveau. We were lucky that so much of the piece was intact and that the finish was in really good original condition– it made our job easy– without this blog, we doubt if anyone, even an expert could tell that the piece has been restored!

The “Swag” style was very popular in it’s heyday, and is really suitable for today’s retro look. It’s available for sale, right now from our Estate Department, item #I-20865.

Tags: , , ,

Other Posts

One Response to “Restoring Antique Jewelry”

  1. jared Says:

    we have an old family double string of pearls actually strung on a very fine and delicate link chain. At some time in the distant past, the chain broke (apparently with the loss of some pearls) and has been tied in a knot. I would be interested in finding if this could/should be restored. I could provide digital photos if it wouold help you answer.

    Thank you.

    Jared Florance

Member - American Gem Society Member - American Gem Trade Association Polygon - The Jewelers Information Highway Harmony Recycled Precious Metals Firemark Diamonds