Antique jewellery is timeless, classic and beautiful. When deciding to purchase vintage jewellery, it can be helpful to understand the different types and styles available. Having an understanding of the types of metals, jewels and clasps will help to ensure that you're getting the best deal and making an informed purchase.
A C clasp is a piece of metal, plastic or other material in the shape of the letter C. The C catches the supporting pin in order to secure the piece of jewellery in place. These types of clasps most often are found on antique brooches. Because C clasps are found most commonly on pieces of jewellery made before 1900, the presence of a C clasp is often a good indicator that the piece of jewellery is more than 100 years old and therefore a true antique. C clasps, while not common, still are used today but are made primarily out of plastic as opposed to metal.
The safety clasp effectively replaced the C clasp in 1910. Also known as a rollover clasp or locking C clasp, it has a small piece of metal that rolls over the pin in order to lock the pin in place. It is sturdier and less prone to coming undone than the older C clasp. You can find safety clasps on many pieces of vintage jewellery, and they also are used today in the creation of modern jewellery.
A trombone clasp has a piece of metal on one side that slides in and out, mimicking the action of a trombone. This sliding piece secures the pin in place. Trombone clasps are much more common in Europe than in the United States. They are often a good indicator of an antique piece of jewellery, as they have been used in jewellery-making since the 1850s.
- "Antique Jewelry: A Practical and Passionate Guide"; Rose Leiman Goldemberg; 1976