Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
In the Victorian era and up until the 1930s, jewelers strung crystal beads on fine silver or gold chain to ensure that the necklace and bracelet would never break. If you find a chain strung strand at a flea market or estate sale, the necklace is more than likely very old. Ladies of the time collected good crystal jewelry; many fine pieces were of karat gold set with carefully chosen faceted crystal shaped pieces. These pins and other items were the precursors of the fabulous rhinestone/crystal pins and earrings of the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
If you fancy vintage amber pieces, they were very popular during the 1890's until about the 1920's. Amber in those days was a bit different from the amber we have today. The inclusions and air bubbles were considered unattractive so the amber was melted to remove them before forming the beads. Sometimes the beads even had a celluloid core. If you find a strand of vintage amber and the beads have inclusions, you may want to think twice about it's age.
Amber can be found in not only a light yellow (honey colored), but also brown or red (cherry amber). The color seems to vary according the depth of water into which the tree fell. Amber can be translucent, opaque, or a mixture of both.
How do you tell if it's real amber? An easy way that will not harm the amber, is to rub the piece briskly with woolen or cotton material and then immediately place the amber in contact with a plastic straw, or a piece of tissue paper. If they are real amber, they will lift the straw or tissue and sometimes even the point of a very fine needle.