Friday, April 24, 2009

Researching the Art Deco Snake Bracelet.

When I first saw the snake bracelet I thought eighties costume, after all I had a simular one. A bracelet and matching belt. The color how ever was all wrong for costume. Gold? it had the warmth of gold. If it was it was high as it was so rich in color. I picked it up and felt the weight, yes gold.

Taking a closer look at the design elements the craftsmen ship was excellent. Tight mesh, Art deco lines in the head, the stones were set well. It was vintage but quite a bit older than the eighties. Prelimary dating. 1920's t0 1950's.

Immediately I put it on my wrist. No looking at marks for me. I had to wear it first. Now that I rationlize it, all jewelry should be wearable and I was just checking that first. If a piece is gorgous but not comfortable what is the point? How often will you wear a piece that pinches or turns? Of course then I just wanted to feel it on, I was starting to love this piece. Striking, comfortable, Nice strong design. It had character. The fit was snug and made to curl around different size wrists. 1920-1940. Fifties bracelets had a different feel a different look. They are louder, looser and larger. Non bangles are mostly oval or oblong not round like this bracelet.

The scales are shield shaped. The tail is beautifully done but the only pure Art Deco element is the head. Light on art deco? The twenties had heavy art deco elements. This piece had no straight lines. No multi level straight lines in the tail. Was it an newer piece? 30's or 40's or did the artist just have a gentle design hand? I wasn't sure at yet.

At that point the work started. I took it off and looked for marks. Immediately I noticed the 750 (not american) noting it was 18k gold. There were two more marks. One which I couldn't read and 252VI.

750 was used in most european countries. Lounges , the frame around the marks told me that it was assayed so regulations where in place. It wasn't english or french or russian all have complicated and distinct marking systems. It probably wasn't american since it had a makers mark in numbers (the 252VI). It's important not to rule any thing out definately. Many items are marked in non-traditional ways. Or made in non traditional ways. I looked at it through a loop and still couldn't make out the third mark.

The next day, I tested the piece. Even though it was marked it was a heavy piece and marks have been known to be faked. It tested 18k. Good start

Next I took a macro photo of the mark. Then another, then a third and forth. and fifth. Why so many? Because I still couldn't read the third mark. Macro photography can show you more than a loop. The third mark was a blur no matter how clear or enlarged the photo was. Finally I decided it just wasn't punched clearly, alas no clues there.

Next I looked up the marks. I started with 750 which ruled out portugal which for the most part sells 19k gold. A good starting point for me was Italy and Spain. Luckily I started with Italy. Italy is famous for it's 18k gold work.

I had a good idea by now what period to start with 1920's. Italian hallmarks for the twenties has oval outline or no outline at all. My piece had very distinct shape a diamond with the ends cut off (certainly not oval.

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