Period jewelry reveals a story about the origin of a piece even after oral tradition wanes. The materials, stones, and construction are characteristics discerned by the gemologist appraiser during an inspection. In the absence of hallmarks and trademarks, the design of jewelry leads a knowledgeable appraiser to a conclusion of the period in which it became a beautiful jewel.
Antique and period jewelry originated in a specific era when materials and implements were available to create the finest jewelry. Jewelry design evolved with the prevailing fashion of the time. When current fashion embraced plunging necklines, a variety of necklaces from dog collars to long chains emerged from major design houses. When hair designs revealed the ear, girandole ear pendants with three matching pear-shaped stones were among the fashionable ear accents for formal attire.
An appraiser must understand the history of fashion and the major characteristics of each major style. During the period of design from the late 19th and early 20th century, the object assists in the determination of the origin of a piece based on whether the style is Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Edwardian, or Art Deco, for example. A gemological evaluation and testing of gemstones aids the identification process. A knowledge of materials and construction techniques used during various historical periods lend to dating a piece of jewelry.