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Posted By Inktiques / Michelle Greysen


             With the hot fashion statement of vintage so in these days extra care should be taken in cleaning and repairing your lovely vintage jewellery and sparkling rhinestone finds. Antique and vintage jewellery is one of the few collectibles one can buy to truly enjoy and wear as the cost of the imposters to real jewels is minimal the enjoyment from wearing it far outweighs the risk of loss.

          Rhinestone costume jewellery beauties, often called foil and paste, are not made from precious metals or real stones so extra care is necessary to keep your less than perfect fun baubles in sparkling condition. The synthetic cut-glass stones often have foil in behind to add more colour and reflection and also as it is so much softer than gemstones it is easily scratched and tends to look duller.

Moisture can and will destroy your favourite piece of rhinestones jewellery if it is not cleaned properly. Not just cleaning product or water moisture but your own sweat can harm these lovely stones. The moisture can collect under the foil behind the stone eventually peeling it away and deadening the sparkle.
Brushing the piece with a soft clean cosmetic or small artists brush will remove the dust. Any built up residue can be gently eased away with a tiny piece of a lens cleaning cloth moistened on the cloth only, not the gems, with an approved eyeglass cleaner. If any scrubbing action is needed to get the piece clean water damp but well squeezed out q-tip can be used.
Cleaning the metal should only be buffed using a soft jeweller flannel-cloth intended for that purpose with care being taken not to catch any of the setting in the cloth while buffing. Placing the cleaned jewellery upside down while drying after cleaning will help prevent any moisture from seeping into the foiled back between the stone and the metal.
To replace or repair any damaged or lost rhinestones care must be taken to not scratch the soft synthetic or glass gems in the changeover. Stone setting pliers and jewellers tools will aid in the delicate process as will a professional glue. Jeweller’s glue, also used in eyeglass repair, will not yellow with age.
Many websites are available where you can find replacement stones in all shapes, colors and sizes such as round, square, flat back, pointed and more can be had to repair your vintage and antique jewellery.
Not all costume jewellery carries little value so cleaning and caring for your gems will protect your investment. Many famous makers of authentic jewels stepped out in the 1920’s and through the post war times, creating intentional fake gem pieces to market to the everyday woman. Many of these synthetic pins and jewels by notable makers such as Trifari, Dior, Chanel, Eisenberg and more are avidly collected and bringing strong prices in spite of their imitation qualities.

Posted By Inktiques / Michelle Greysen

Vintage and collectible postcards have become a hot collectible marking many occasions, seasons, lifestyles and important social history of their day. Inexpensive treasures can still be found but high prices can equally be realized so storing and displaying your antique postcards is an important part of collecting this delicate ephemera.
As paper is such a delicate product with a life expectancy of less than fifty years, storing it in the wrong method could seriously devalue or totally destroy your hard earned collection.  Many attractive album style books are on the market to display your collections. But do your homework as some may look great to organizing and enjoy your postcards but the paramount feature you need to ensure is that of preservation.
Archival quality acid free and PVC-free transparent sleeves are the safest method of storing your individual antique postcards while allowing for viewing pleasure. They allow for protection not only from the oils on your skin but from environmental affects as the mylar-like sleeves do not introduce harmful chemical in their structure. Non-archival plastics can contain chemicals which will breakdown and destroy your treasures quickly deteriorating your collection.
For further protection from handling be sure that the sleeves openings are large enough to not have to bend an edge or crease a corner while sliding the cards into place. The sleeve itself should be heavy enough to support your card for viewing front and back with no paper insert which could further deteriorate your postcard through the paper’s chemical breakdown over time.
Not only the protective sleeves need to be archival quality but also the album cover, boxes or slipcases must be professional collector quality to ensure safe keeping. If using a box method with indexing and tabs be certain the paper dividers are of archival quality also. Some collectors are even using metal boxes ensuring greater protection from outside hazards.  Climate, temperature and humidity can all wreak havoc on your collection and must be closely monitored to be sure moisture or sever heat or cold are not affecting the sleeves and in turn your prized postcards.
If wanting to both safely store and display your collection at the same time there are many retailers offering archival quality display cases, suitcase-like displays, postcard frames with glass both front and back for total viewing, shadow boxes and coffee table stands. In selecting your storage and display always consider that air, moisture and chemicals damage can lift the inks, fade or discolour the postcards and even disintegrate them over time.

Select your storage wisely for years of preservation and enjoyment of your passion as a deltiologist, a collector of picture postcards.





Posted By Inktiques / Michelle Greysen
The pros and cons in whether to restore your antique treasure or to preserve it in its current condition is a decision to not make in haste keeping in mind that often in the antique world less is more. Many times the original condition, no matter how ragged it might seem may bring the greatest value. Other times a repair or restoration may increase the value.
The decision to restore, refinish or preserve your antique is often a personal one and directly relates to the piece itself. It could be a historic family piece which will remain in the family and worth preserving the item. It may also simply be an investment piece and the owner may be looking to get the best value from their antique investment in a future resell scenario.
This decision can only be made by you but the knowledge and advice should come from professionals such as a trusted dealer, a museum conservation curator, a major auction house or a respected specialist in the area of your item in question. Typically restoration will involve some repair and cleaning but a refinishing is much more drastic as it would strip away original stains and resins and most times greatly reduce original condition value.
A solid survey of the piece in question and a good cleaning will help determine the extent of any work you may want to consider. Cosmetically some blemishes can be easily repaired with great success at a low cost such as stains, burns or water marks. Although these can be removed the idea of an antique is not necessarily to be in original mint pristine condition. After all, the item is 100 years old and patinas and worn away paint will speak to the age actually becoming part of the true valuing process.
Missing handles or hardware should be replaced with original materials of the era and not modern reproductions as that will also negatively affect the value. In the case of a restoration which should ultimately bring it greater value, the work will need to be done by a qualified professional and not by unskilled hands at home.
The idea is to restore the item to as original condition as possible using as many original products as possible to carry out the work. Ask what materials will be used for the work and do not be afraid to get a second professional opinion as to the glues or resins in question to determine that the proposed plan of action will actually increase the value and not decrease the quality.

The cost of the restoration must also come under close scrutiny determining if indeed the dollars spent will proportionately increase the value of the antique. In determining the full cost of any work, consider also the delivery charges as well as storage and insurance during the work. Do get  it all in writing with a proper claim check slip before turning over your treasure to ensure a smooth process and a safe return of your restored and hopefully increased in value antique.

Another point of restoration is the ability for the work to be reversed. A qualified restoration service should offer this possibility and confirm a cost to reverse the restoration if indeed it proves down the road the original condition would garner the highest values.

Posted By Inktiques / Michelle Greysen
Carrying a simple keychain size black light on your next antique hunt could prove to be a valuable tool. Most people know that certain older glass will glow under the black light but it can also reveal many other authenticating tricks used by the antique appraisal experts including age, imperfections or damage.
The magic of the black light is that it will cause certain properties to fluoresce in a chemical reaction when put under the ultraviolet light. By targeting the light at a certain spot on an item the intensity is increased resulting in a high saturation of colors making things visible that were not before. This beam of ultraviolet light when directed for example at art work can reveal proof of restoration or repairs that may have taken place over time as the chemistry of modern paint will glow on the canvass, and would then greatly affect the value of the item.
In art glass, porcelain and pottery on detailed inspection in a dark room the black light beam will reveal cracks and chips that may not have been visible under the naked eye in the daylight. The green glassware of the depression era as well as Vaseline glass made with uranium oxide will seem to glow under the black light where as the whiter old glass will appear a yellowish tone with the results on old glass glowing at a different intensity to modern reproduction glass which does not glow or has a faint whitish blue tinge. The finish on the older porcelain will not glow but its modern reproductions will chemically react and light up under the black light as will the newer glues in any glass repair.
In the area of ephemera collecting the use of chemical and dyes in the modern papers will create a glow under the light whereas most old paper up to the 1930’s era will not light up making it an easy test for the vast number of reproductions in the paper collecting world. Old postcards and photographs will not reflect off the light but new ones will shine.
Fibres and textiles will also react under the beam of the black light although this area is less revealing to the appraiser. A vintage fabric may not glow like a modern chemical laced fabric but washing it in modern detergents can leave traces of glowing chemicals when placed under the light bringing inconclusive results of authenticity of age.
Original old cast iron does not glow but its modern counterpart and the new paints will react under the light as will new repairs on an old cast weld. The old tin toys of the turn of the century were made of cast but the tell tale sign will be when the modern paint in the reproduction glows.
         So pocket yourself a black light and take it with you on your next adventure remembering that it can be revealing but is also only one of many tools of knowledge you will acquire over time as you grow passionate about collecting.


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Posted By Inktiques / Michelle Greysen


Many antique appraisers are dedicated to a particular area of collecting as the vast knowledge and expertise to be a professional antique appraiser involves constant learning. Picking up some of their tips of appraisal will be a useful skill to value your antique finds like a pro.
Antique evaluation is not about memorizing book values of specific items. There is not a single global source for such information nor could there be. An item at auction in New York will not bring the same value in an antique store in Montana or at a tag sale in Vermont. The same analogy is true worldwide with values in Paris differing from those in Canada or Japan. Creating common ground with value and determining what the market will reasonably bear in any given economy are keys to appraisal.
One of the first things to determine is if the item has any maker markings possibly found in numerous places and an appraiser’s background will bring them experience in knowing where and what to be looking for. Jewellery, furniture, toys and silver are examples of collectibles marked in totally different methods. Knowing your area of interest will help you in discovering what to look for in maker marks as a missing or misread mark could be the difference of great dollars in evaluation.
The first thing in self-appraisal like a pro is to determine authenticity. Knowledge in your area of collecting will bring a familiarity to what you are looking for. Normal signs of aging, patinas, natural discolouration of metals over time and authentic markings in the correct place are key observations. If anything looks suspect then chances are high in this age of fakery that the item is a remake and further scrutiny is necessary.
To assess the condition of an antique an appraiser will consider a certain amount of wear and tear given the age, but will closely inspect all surfaces top and bottom, front and back, for signs of restoration works, repairs, refinishing, replacement parts and any serious damage. The more original and complete the item has remained over time often the greater the value.
Older does not necessarily mean higher value as the rarity will be a large part of evaluation. More common items originally produced in higher quantities will bring less value and again knowing how many or how few of a particular item are on the open market will be a consideration in the appraisal.
Repair or restoration in some items may increase a value if done professionally but in other areas of collecting it could greatly decrease the value. Knowing what if any restoration to increase value is a good thing will come with time and experience. An item with visible damage but repairable can often still bring a strong value.
Appraisers have many tools, some of which can be brought along in your pocket such as a black light used to test for age and repair in such items as glassware, porcelain, some metals, paints, ephemera and textiles as chemical laden more modern materials will react and glow in the light. A pocket stone tester can be used to determine carat weight and quality when jewellery collecting and a loupe eye magnifying glass will help when searching for marks or small print.
Take your time when considering an investment in antiques, gather as much information as the item will give you and then go back and research in order to make an informed purchase decision. With good pre-knowledge and experience in your area of collecting, a few pocket tools and a keen eye you can set out antique hunting armed with many of the skills of a professional appraiser.

To read more antique articles by Michelle Greysen:




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