Antique Gold Locket

It is believed that every antique has a story to tell. Antique gold lockets are a piece of jewelry that may serve many functions. Some were designed to be romantic, holding love letters or portraits of a loved one. Others were designed as religious objects, shaped like the Bible, or holding important scripture. Whether the shape was rectangular, oval, square, round, or heart, lockets held the key to what was important in the owner’s life.

Many of the antique gold lockets on the market today are either from or inspired by the Victorian era. The designs created during this historical period are still popular today, centuries later. Within this time, there were distinct period’s ach with its own influences. The periods are; Georgian, Early Victorian, Mid Victorian, and late Victorian.

The Georgian era was from 1714 – 1837, before Queen Victoria’s reign, and the beginning of what we would come to recognize as the Victorian era. The jewelry form this period was handmade and was usually an emulation of natural shapes. Common stones used were garnets, coral topaz, and raised diamonds. Jewelry from this era is especially rare and valuable.

The early Victorian era was from 1837 – 1850; it was also called the “Romantic Era.” Its official start was on June 20th of 1837 when Queen Alexandria Victoria was crowned. She would go on to become the longest ruling monarch in the history of the United Kingdom. A revival of Elizabethan gothic designs also took place. When the Queen married Prince Albert in 1840, the Romantic era was at its height. Designs were based on incorporating emotions as inspiration for art.

The Mid Victorian Period was from 1860 – 1885. It started with the death of Prince Albert in 1860. As a representation of the countries mourning, dark stones such as onyx were popular. Many lockets were designed as “mourning lockets.” They were decorated with black and commonly contained a lock of the deceased loved one’s hair or their portrait. The era was also influenced by the popularity of middle class travel. Many of these travelers brought home designs from ancient Greek and Roman cities. These designs were reproduced and became a trend for the jewelry of that time. In 1876, Queen Victoria was crowned the Empress of India. Soon after, designs from the Orient became very fashionable.

The late Victorian period was from 1885 – 1900; it was also called the “Aesthetic Period.” During this period, the value of jewelry was based more on the craftsmanship than the materials it was made from. The designs were fun and diamonds were made popular by the expansion to Africa. The Edwardian period was from 1900 – 1910, directly following the death of Queen Victoria. King Edward VII’s reign ended conservative fashions and instead focused on sensual designs. Diamonds, pearls, gemstones, and intricate filigree patterns were popular.

There are some design attributes that are common for lockets throughout the ages. These include; cameos, engraved initials, religious prayers or symbols, family crests, and the fleur de lis.

Since markings of gold purity were not used until recently, acid tests are the best way to determine the amount of gold in a piece of jewelry. Keep in mind that though the locket may be real gold, it can also be filled or rolled, both of which are les valuable than solid gold pieces.

If purchasing an authentic antique piece of jewelry is your goal, it pays to become educated. The term “antique” may be misleading and is commonly used as a marketing trick to lure buyers. A true antique is defined as 100 years old or older. With a solid knowledge of the era designs, materials used, and the types of fasteners, identifying authentic pieces will be easier. To make the task less daunting, it is a good idea to choose a time period with designs that you like and then learn about that specific era. If shopping at estate sales, it may be helpful to carry around information and pictures with you. To assist with your search, there are many books available on the subject of antique gold lockets.

Many companies specialize in reproductions of antique jewelry. These may be a good option for those wishing to have a piece of jewelry that is made with quality but less expensive.

Care for your antique gold locket will vary depending on the materials used to create it. The majority of gold jewelry is a gold alloy, meaning that it has been combined with other metals to give it strength. Pure gold does not tarnish, but 10, 14, or 18k will. Knowing the other types of metal used to create your locket will help determine the appropriate care needed. However, there are a few things to consider when caring for any gold jewelry. First, sulfur is a natural enemy of gold alloy. If your locket is exposed to sulfur, it made be damaged. Avoid exposure to oranges, onions, and spices that contain sulfur. To retain shine, you may polish your locket with a soft cloth. Your locket should be stored in a pouch and kept in a location that is dry.

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