Looking at the findings of jewelry is just one way of evaluating the age of a piece but can be very helpful. It seems there is quite a lot of contradictory information out there regarding evaluating the age of earrings by the findings, so I have outlined the basic facts that I’ve uncovered below. However, I am sure I will be revisiting this post in the future with more details and updates as I have to admit I’m still quite unsure about quite a few things. And you will find that the drawing above and the information below don’t quite match, even though I’ve used a variety of reliable sources. So please used this guide with my disclaimer until I’ve learned and experienced more. If you have any insights about it yourself, please do let me know.
Also, I should say that I’ve used the term ‘invented’ here interchangeably with ‘brought to market’ and ‘patented’ as for our purposes it is sufficient.
Prior to 1882
Before this date there were fundamentally two types of earring findings in use: one was ‘The Shepherds hook’
The other kind the hinged kind that went through the back of the ear and hooked in at the front.
Coral and gold earrings with front fastening
The kidney wire safety catch was invented.
- RODDIN 1888 Catalogue
- Coral and gold earrings with kidney wire safety catch
The screw was invented (this used to have little to nothing to rest against the ear in the early days, many were changed later as this wasn’t comfortable). These are still made today but they are not that common on newer pieces. The threads were thicker in diameter and the nut was much heavier than those that are made today.
The lever back with safety catch was invented.
Screw back for non-pierced ears invented.
The friction back earring was invented or ‘post and butterfly’. This is still in use today and is the most common earring type today.
Spring clip back invented for non-pierced ears.
Adjustable hinge clip for non-pierced ears.
Omega back invented for non-pierced ears.