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Art Deco Style Ideas & Tips

How to Differentiate Between Old and New Marcasite Jewelry

Marcasite is iron sulfide (FeS2) which has two different ways of structuring crystals in nature; Marcasite and Pyrite (Fool’s Gold). The problem is that real Marcasite forms crumbling, brittle, unstable crystals and the jewelry we all acknowledge as “MARCASITE” is actually made from Pyrites, which is harder and more stable. Someone must have been confused in the old days. It has come to us passing over various cultures such as Incas, Ancient Greeks and more. It became particularly popular in 18th century during the Victorian era.

After the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Marcasite jewellery became the fashion symbol for the upper middle class and remained popular till the end of the Art Deco Period. The jewelry is crafted by adjusting small pieces of pyrite into silver.

Also Read: Art Deco Sofas

Silver and Marcasite Jewelry

Marcasite Jewelry - Art Deco Period

Marcasite Jewelry

You can find some amazing jewellery pieces made from Marcasite and sterling silver. In old times, when craftsmanship was not as valuable at it is these days, a lot of creativity was put into pieces. Most Marcasite is faceted similar to Dutch Rose Cut. It has a stable dark metallic luster along with many polished mirror like surfaces. If you are looking for an original old piece, here are a few things to consider.

  • When you are buying a Marcasite jewelry make sure it is hallmarked.
  • Germany was the largest producer of Marcasite jewellery before the II world war. Jewellery pieces were stamped GERMANY for export purposes.
  • Check the body of the piece if is caste or handmade. A close examination will easily disclose if the piece is older and of high quality or caste.

    Moon Brooch - Marcasite Art Deco Jewelry

    Moon Brooch

  • The best of all clues is to check how the Marcasite is set. In old times the labor was cheap and all quality Marcasite was done on bead settings. With a graver tool jewelers used to curl a bit of foundation material over the edge of the Marcasite piece in a few places to fix it. It would have taken a lot of time as few of these pieces have 100’s of Marcasite stones in them. Modern pieces are usually glued in, using a magnifier. Make sure how the stone is held over the surface.
  • There are a few old pieces have glued in stones. These old pieces are considered inferior quality.
  • It is very important for you to realize that old pieces are not copied. Examine them carefully, if it is copied, beads just look like holding the stone but actually they are glued in.
  • One or two missing stone are normal for a good old piece. Don’t worry too much for that. If you have a good collection of Marcasite jewelry, bring out some scrap pieces, they can be used as supply for replacement stones.
  • Old Silver Marcasite Jewelry is most popular amongst its collectors. There are many pieces around that are both interesting as well as hold a very high quality. Keep an eye out!