However, it's still used occasionally (these days usually on inexpensive jewelry).Evaluating it in concert with the hinge and pinstem is essential.A few types of jewelry are so closely associated with particular eras that you hardly have to think about it, beyond checking fabrication details to confirm they're *right* for the period and seeking signs of wear to ensure they aren't reproductions.
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If you're looking at a pinstem that's of modern length and apparently *hasn't* been snipped, the piece can't be older than the 1920s -- unless there are other indications of age and the pinstem has been replaced completely.
HINGES If you're looking at a hinge that's familiar from all your modern jewelry and is original, that doesn't mean a lot, actually.
Materials can provide a similarly solid framework for dating.
You won't see a stamped setting or chain segment older than around 1835, when the process was introduced, or cultured pearls older than 1912, when they were developed, and you'll see the little dots of black pitch by which paste stones were mounted, if you're looking at a rhinestone-type piece from the 18th century.
If you see a "safety pin" type clasp, the jewel could conceivably be as old as its invention (mid-19th c., but general use of this clasp in jewelry wasn't made until the 1880s, continuing in the 1890s as the form of a small extra pin on a chain).
If you're sure it's original, you can be confident the jewel is Late Victorian. If it isn't original, you know when it was added to an older jewel.
Most dealers will be more than happy to help you, and nothing beats Handling the Goods to get a proper feel for them.
Start by searching each piece closely for markings and make careful note of them (before you forget and must keep looking over and over, which gets to be a bore.
If you're looking at a T-shaped hinge, likewise you know the piece is older than the 1890s (unless the jewel was hugely expensive and could be forged).