Sometimes a Replica is just a reminder
The biggest story in replica jewelry these days is the production of knockoffs of the ring Prince William gave his fiancée Kate Middleton. The royal ring, which belonged to his mother Princess Diana, has a 16-carat natural blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds. Its value is put at between $150,000 and “priceless.”
Replicas of the ring are being produced in China by the tens of thousands and sold around the world. Probably the cheapest are made of plastic and quartz crystal; they wholesale for 45 cents and retail for $3.
Obviously, these replicas are not trying to pass as valuable jewelry. They are for the souvenir market, much like an Eiffel Tower refrigerator magnet or a paperweight shaped like the Sphinx.
A slightly more upscale version is also available. On this ring, the surrounding stones are cubic zirconia — CZ, fake diamond — and the sapphire is low-cost synthetic stone. This $99 model is also just a cheap knockoff. Though its appeal is mainly as a cultural artifact, the ad copy tries to suggest that the piece is comparable to the royal ring and has enduring value as jewelry. Is anyone being fooled? If the Royal Ring crosses your desk, don’t bite!
Period jewelry—making it new (& often better)
On the other end of the value spectrum is very fine replica jewelry, expertly crafted pieces patterned after jewelry styles from the past.
Jewelry styles are often associated with a particular time period, so jewelry made “in the style of” an earlier period is sometimes considered a replica. Contemporary craftsmen may replicate particular pieces from an earlier era, or they may make creative use of the signature features of that period to produce original creations.
Art Nouveau jewelry, for example, is much admired today. At its height from about 1880 to the First World War, the Art Nouveau movement was a revolt against the industrialization of jewelry-making. Jewelry of the period emphasized fluid lines, colorful enamel work and natural subjects, such as plants and the female figure.
One company has produced for modern buyers some of the same pieces it made when Art Nouveau was daring and avant-garde. These pieces are even better made than they could have been a century ago.
Bad copies of big names
Between high-quality jewelry and souvenir-grade stuff is a world of replicas, with something for every pocketbook. The Internet is full of sites trading on the name of a historical period, such as art deco, to market mediocre or poor quality merchandise.
Other sites openly advertise that their replicas are unauthorized imitations of famous name brands. One site boasts of carrying “only the most authentic looking replicas.” The jewelry may come with official-looking documentation and packaging and the consumer may be fooled. Or the consumer may realize he was taken in and want to pass his loss on to the insurer through a bogus claim.
Only an appraisal from a qualified and experienced appraiser can tell you what the jewelry — replica or otherwise — is worth.
Pacific Jewelry Appraisers
Paul Shikhvarger GG
860 Via De La Paz, Ste. F9
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272