Jewelry Mementos Before Photography – Our Oldest Estate Item

December 30th, 2008 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

One of the fascinating things about jewelry is how often it reflects history.

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2 Responses to “Jewelry Mementos Before Photography – Our Oldest Estate Item”

  1. Brian Says:

    How was the glass cap held on? By a type of glue or was the bezel somehow manipulated?

    What is the proper care for a piece like this?

  2. Jim Sweaney Says:


    This particular silhouette has been set by the traditional bezel setting method, where the thin metal of the bezel is carefully pressed or “rolled” inward onto the edge of the glass cap. The original jeweler may have also used cement as well, but I can’t detect any, even by looking under the microscope.

    The care of an item like this is fairly specific. First, DO NOT immerse in liquid-the bezel setting is not waterproof. Immersion may damage the paper cut silhouette.

    Second, with any antique item, respect its age. Handle it gently, don’t stack things on top of it, etc., and when you wear the pin, be sure to engage the clasp carefully. The karat gold body of the pin and the glass cap may be carefully wiped with a soft cloth, but don’t polish aggressively-the soft luster of antique jewelry depends on the patina built up over years of careful wear. Last, buy it, wear it, love it!

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