Dating vintage jewelry
Initially, Coco Chanel produced her jewellery to compliment her outfits, so they were not regarded as stand-alone pieces, but as part of the whole ensemble.
None of these pieces were signed, and it goes without saying that these early pieces are extremely rare and require considerable expertise to authenticate them.
Many collectors agree that the jewellery produced after this date has lost much of the artistry, chic and glamour of the Chanel years.
Whether updating a collection, searching for information about a family heirloom, or assisting a colleague or customer, dating a piece of vintage costume jewelry can present a challenge.
As well as designating the Season, the year was added and denoted by the final two digits. The copyright and registration marks return around the 'CHANEL,' as well as 'MADE IN FRANCE' along the bottom.
On either side of the CC logo are the the two digit date and the one letter Season (P for Spring/Printemps, A for Autumn/Automne).
Many tools and techniques are familiar to the experienced collector, including dating by textured versus smooth back casting, extended pin stems and simple “C” closures, the presence of a copyright symbol, the use of aurora borealis rhinestones, to name but a few.
Less familiar primary sources such as patents and copyrights, books about specific companies, and period advertisements also provide a wealth of information to assist with dating.
If you pick up a piece of Chanel vintage jewellery it must not feel light or tinny, I was once shown a supposed Chanel necklace that seemed to have all the correct markings but it felt very light and when the charms knocked together it sounded like a cheap wind chime!
Rings have also been added to the range, and some pieces are now made in Italy instead of France.
In addition to this, the lovely spring right clasps are being replaced with the less aesthetically pleasing lobster clasps.
The following year he appointed Victoire de Castallane to head up jewellery design, and she produced most of the famous Chanel pieces that are so collectable and continue to inspire today.
She was employed from 1984 until 1998, an amazingly creative period.