Site Review | Professional Jeweler

February 8, 1999
Edith Weber Antique Jewelry

Retailers with estate departments will agree that antique jewelry is one of trickiest categories in retail jewelry. It takes expertise to tell authentic pieces from reproductions, determine the style's period, verify the markings and spot when a piece has been altered.

If it's confusing for jewelers, it's even more harrowing for consumers who cherish their heirlooms. So Edith Weber & Associates, an antique jewelry retailer on Madison Avenue in New York City, built a reference Web site identifying the jewelry periods and answering some of the many questions the store's staff has heard over the years.

Much of the staff's knowledge is listed in answers to FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) to demystify estate jewelry: what "antique" really means, how gold is marked (and the variations in stamping over the years), why "old-cut" diamonds" aren't worth much and why antique jewelry is so costly to repair, for instance. Here there's also a description of the different jewelry periods (such as Victorian and Edwardian) and links to pictures of each type as examples. The pictures are also available in the on-line Gallery.

The store is celebrating three years on the Web, and answers requests about its stock by e-mailing descriptions and digital images to interested customers. "A few months ago I assisted a snow-bound client on her ranch with the sale of a highly important diamond ring. We have still never met!" says President Barry Weber, son of founder Edith. Last year stars chose their jewels for the Academy Awards from a virtual display on the site.

Barry and Edith Weber teach courses on antique jewelry, and a list of the courses are available on-line, as is a calendar of the antique shows at which Edith Weber & Associates will exhibit.

Technically speaking: Be prepared for frames, although the site gives users a "No Frames" option. Some of the text, which is yellow and pink set against a dark blue background, is hard to read, especially italicized text and links.

- by Stacey King