ANTIQUE JEWELRY: TELLING THE GOOD FROM THE BEST

When people are deciding which movie to see or which restaurant to visit, they can turn to professional reviews in newspapers and magazines. Purchasers of antique jewelry don’t have it so easy. Collectors and dealers alike must rely on their own connoisseurship. Frequently in a matter of minutes, they must decide what is good, better, or best. But reaching a decision is much more than a matter of intuition, no matter how experienced the buyer. Connoisseurs draw upon a knowledge of the field, and this knowledge is based on a fairly standard set of criteria. How rare is the jewelry? The first of these criteria is rarity. Even among rarities, however, there can be rare, rarer, and rarest. For example, let’s examine three centuries-old rings. A rare and lovely 18th-century ring is shown in Figure 1. Connoisseurs know it as a “Giardinetti” ring. It takes the form of a basket, with
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