Where do you go to find out?
Well of course, the local library can help but it rarely carries the very latest publications and new books are being written constantly. Personally, because I buy and sell vintage jewelry, I prefer to buy a good assortment of books for immediate reference when I need it. Check Amazon, eBay, Alibris .. all carry authoritative books on vintage jewelry. And here is one website you don't want to miss: RESEARCHING COSTUME JEWELRY. What a great resource site for books, articles, and everything else you need: Jewelry History - Jewelry Research - Jewelry Marks - Jewelry Signatures ... everything you need to ... well ... research costume jewelry!
Obviously, the internet is a wonderful resource as long as you know what terms to type into a search engine. Sometimes coming up with the right terms or phrases to yield the information you seek can be really hard. So let me save you some time: here's a list of sites that you'll find invaluable in locating the information you seek.
My favourite, and the most comprehensive site I've come across is Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry run by Jane Haley Clarke of New Mexico. Apart from hundreds of photos of jewelry by various designers, Jane has a section called "Jewel Chat"a complete reference section on Victorian, vintage and costume jewelry. You can look up jewelry marks and dates and see photos of the same. There's a helpful section on determining jewelry values and hints on where and how to sell it. This site is huge. The best way for you to find out what you can learn there is to simply visit it and poke around.
If you visit ABOUT.COM: ANTIQUES, you'll also find a long list of links to sites with information on designers, styles and wearing all types of vintage costume jewelry. You'll find links to topics like Costume Jewelry Designers and Houses, a Pictorial Price Guide, fun figural jewelry that can range from $5 to $5000 and much much more. ABOUT.COM: ANTIQUES is definitely a site you should bookmark. And my own site at DESIGNER VINTAGE JEWELRY is a good resource too as I frequently add new articles, not just on designer vingtage jewelry but on a variety of useful and related subjects.
Okay, before this gets too long, here's a list of other very handy resource sites:
Great for Sarah Coventry names
Loads of info and obscure marks – great silver site
Great site for silver hallmarks – esp England, Germany, Russia
Super reference site for beads and findings
hex code color chart – handy for listings and web sites
and this marvellous site where you can learn all about those "book pieces" you occasionally come across: http://www.clerestorial.com/
Well I hope you found this helpful and of course, I suggest you bookmark this post so you can reference it immediately the next time you need to research designer vintage jewelry.