VINTAGE COSTUME JEWELRY PATENTS
By learning how to read and interpret the patent numbers which are
sometimes found on the back of your jewelry you can learn a lot about
your beloved adornments. Over time, you may find that researching
your vintage jewelry is almost as much fun as wearing it!
Design patents usually begin with the letter "D" or the abbreviation
"Des." This type of patent protected the designers of costume jewelry
and assured them that their ideas would not be used by other makers
without their permission.
Utility patents are issued for the mechanisms that allow the jewelry
to be worn. These patents have frequently been issued for clips,
hinges, safety catches, and other findings.
Patents allow us to assign dates to jewelry. They also help to
identify the designers and/or manufacturers of the pieces. Design
patents let us see how the artist envisioned the piece, which is often
interesting when compared to the actual item after manufacture.
Sometimes you will see the abbreviation "Pat Pend." This means that
the manufacturer applied for a patent, but it had not yet been awarded
at the time when this jewelry was made. Sometimes these patents were
eventually awarded, but other times they were not. It is sometimes
possible to locate these patents, but sometimes they remain elusive.
The presence of this mark usually indicates that the piece dates to
before 1955. After 1955 jewelry design patents fell out of favor and
jewelry was typically copyrighted, rather than patented. Utility
patents are still seen after that date, but almost no design patents.
One of the easiest ways to locate patent information is through a
Google patent search. If you go to the "more" pull-down menu on the
main Google search page and select "even more" you will find Patent
Search. Simply type in the patent number.
We continually add United States Patent Office images to our website
because we want it to be a resource for jewelry collectors everywhere.
If you have patents you would like to share with us we would love to
include them. Please contact Rocky and he will tell you how to format
the images so we can use them. All contributors will be acknowledged.
On our site's Resources page you will find additional information
about books and websites which provide jewelry patent mages for
specific companies. We believe that open sharing of information
benefits us all - collectors, dealers, and scholars.