How We Work
Every Piece of Jewellery Tells a Story
“Antique jewellery tells stories” is the central idea of Hofer Antikschmuck. Yet how do we find out the stories that are hidden behind a sparkling Art Deco ring or a mysterious necklace made of scarabs from the 19th century? How do we make the objects of the past speak?
We examine every piece of jewellery that we offer in the greatest detail, probing it carefully, looking at it from different angles and through the eyes of a scientist. Examining it from its entirety reveals a lot. For the chronological classification, one can find the first clue: Is it an Art Deco object or is it from the 19th century? How is the general preservation? Likewise, the function of a ring or brooch is also quickly explained. However, even a bouquet holder from the Biedermeier period can only be explained to those who have seen one before.
In much the way that a first, quick look does not yet disclose the full story, it reveals itself on closer inspection. Have individual gemstones been added and do they differ in cut from the rest? Are there any older repairs or additions that differ in material or colour? Does the technique of the settings or the processing of the metals correspond to the era that the design of the piece suggested as the time of origin? Finally, we also verify the metals, the gemstones and all the details individually and thoroughly: not only through a magnifying glass, but also with gemological methods, with test acids and much more. This is because we want to document all special peculiarities and also all traces of time on the pieces of jewellery on our homepage in order to complete the whole story.
From this point it is decided upon whether we should next photograph the piece of jewellery and present it to you, or whether we would first give it to one of our specialised partners. This is because over the extended period of time, after several generations, a gemstone may have loosened and would have to be reattached before the piece of jewellery could be worn. Additionally perhaps, there are changes that we would prefer to take back in order to restore close to the original condition of the piece of jewellery. In these cases, we would work with Goldsmiths and Gemstone Setters locally in Berlin. In addition Gemstone Cutters in Idar-Oberstein and external test laboratories throughout Germany. Of course, we would clearly mark each piece of jewellery later if something has been altered.
Compare to Understand
Equipped with this information about the material, the preservation and the shape of the piece of jewellery, the task is to classify the ring, brooch or necklace chronologically and to understand its historical context. This is particularly successful in comparison with other pieces of jewellery and in collaboration with our team of specialised experts. Just like when examining a painting or a valuable sculpture, the comparison helps to understand what the special features of a piece of jewellery are and what is typical of the time and the fashion under which it was created.
Over the years we have built up a special library of the history of jewellery. It is the first port of call to find out more, for example, to learn about an unusual technique or a fashion that has been forgotten today, how jewellery was worn in the past. However, illustrations can rarely replace the actual three-dimensional objects. That is why we regularly visit the collections of the museums here in Berlin and throughout Europe. Moreover, we are a member of various associations that are dedicated to the history of jewellery and gemology.
In our team, we then discuss the special features of our new acquisitions, assess our findings together and advise on how the piece of jewellery, for example, reveals its age and place of origin. This creates a lively discussion on a regular basis and the results are almost always an excellent collaborative piece of teamwork.
Finally, we present the piece of jewellery to you on our homepage. What’s more, we have every piece of jewellery photographed from all sides in order to present the object to you exactly as you will receive it. Each piece of jewellery is photographed on a model because above all the size of the objects can often only be correctly imagined when worn. We also present some selected pieces of jewellery on our Instagram account. Do you already know it?
In addition to the photographs, we also describe the pieces of jewellery in a text and record the material and dimensions, history and shape as detailed as possible so that you can create the best possible idea of the piece of jewellery in advance. You will receive all this information with the piece of jewellery after the purchase: a printed certificate with a picture of the object which accompanies every package that leaves our office and is kept and thus preserves the history of the jewellery for future generations.