The patented designs from a given year or a given decade show the popularity of styles, materials and themes, and indicate the types of findings and the methods of construction being used for the time period.
Prior to the early 1950s, typical necklace clasp styles used by Coro and Trifari were spring ring, push (also known as box), or fold-over.
Don't worry, you don't have to hold hands all night long (unless you want to, of course).
Many tools and techniques are familiar to the experienced collector, including dating by textured versus smooth back casting, extended pin stems and simple “C” closures, the presence of a copyright symbol, the use of aurora borealis rhinestones, to name but a few.
Less familiar primary sources such as patents and copyrights, books about specific companies, and period advertisements also provide a wealth of information to assist with dating.
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A great example is jewelry manufactured by Hollycraft during the 1950s.
The pieces that were copyrighted by the company were marked with “COPR” (an abbreviation of copyright, used in place of the better-known ©) and also the year as shown in the examples here.
If attempting to date a pair of earrings with screw-back findings, this information can be used to focus your research to before the mid-1950s.
A second primary-source dating tool is the use of books about fairly-large and prolific costume jewelry manufacturing companies, where original sources have been used by the author.
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For example, in looking at the use of clip-back and the use of screw-back findings for earrings, a survey of those currently for sale found that from 1950 through 1955, screw-backs were used about 30% of the time, and clip-backs 70 percent of the time.