Thursday 19 November 2015

Is my marcasite jewellery real?

Is my marcasite jewellery real? 

This was a question asked by someone who had just purchased marcasite jewellery from elsewhere. Now, this is a complicated question as the term marcasite has been adapted over the years to include many different materials.

Victorian marcasite and before.

Originally marcasite jewellery was invented to be a cheaper option than diamonds and to glitter when worn under candlelight. Most antique marcasite was, therefore, the mineral pyrite embedded into silver. Marcasite has been around for centuries including the Roman period and became even popular in the Victorian period. It can be seen in Art Nouveau pieces as well. Marcasite itself is a gemstone mineral that is too brittle to be used in jewellery, so was never used!

Into the twentieth century.

Now as the years past, marcasite jewellery remained silver until the fifties and early sixties when silver started to become more expensive. Originally the marcasite was fused by heat into the silver settings. But as the years pasted and glue became a better option and much cheaper to use in the manufacturer. So the pyrite was glued into place. However, when silver prices increased, silver-coloured metal was used instead of real silver. Now you need to look very closely at marcasite brooches, earrings and necklaces from the mid-twentieth century to determine whether they are of silver or silver metal. Because many are unsigned, you can test the metal - but this does leave a mark. If the marcasite stones are all intact then this is a quality piece that has stood the test of time.


Marcasite jewellery is still produced today and can be of silver - it will be marked as such either 925 or sterling. Or it can be purely costume and made from a polished silver or gold coloured metal. It should say what it is in the description when buying.

Look-a-like marcasite.

Through out the years there has been many look-a-like marcasite pieces. These are when they pattern has been produced to have the maracasite stone look included. They are of one metal and you need to look closely to see. there is also the famous Charles Horner polished jewellery that have indentations that shine and are of an aluminium material.

Charles Horner peacock brooch
Charles Horner faux marcaste look a like peacock

I like marcasite jewellery, but really I wear what I like whether its expensive or not. Here is a selection that was available from Jewels and Finery.

cat brooch - false marcasite
Studded cat brooch - the raised metal has that "marcasite look. But it is not marcasite jewellery

Tulip marcasite jewellery
Mid twentieth century tulip in marcasite
marcasite eagle brooch
Eagle brooch in marcasite

marcasite deer jewellery
Deer in marcasite - popular 50s theme

marcasite costume owl brooch

About Me

My photo
Solihull, West Midlands, United Kingdom
I preserve the past. Researching family and local history. Finding about mine and other people's ancestors, is just one of my passions. I also love vintage costume jewellery made here in the UK. I write about my finds and like to research.