Whilst blogging about my recent trip to Stockholm, I briefly mentioned that I had my eye on a fabulous 1950’s silver bracelet. I have a thing for anything 1950s because mid-20th century style tended to be minimalist or space age looking (usually referred to as atomic jewellery). Atomic jewellery featured starbursts and flying-saucer shapes. You can check out what I mean by looking at these Google images.

With a UN colleague, I was visiting the old part of Stockholm. We wandered down some side streets and I spotted a small jewellery store. In the window were some promising-looking silver pieces so in I went and immediately clamped my eyes on a silver bracelet with milky lavender-coloured moonstones.

I think you have to be very careful these days when buying precious or semi-precious gemstones. Amber, for example, is easily faked using plastic and colourants. So unless you’re an expert, you could end up with synthetic amber. Same with moonstones. True moonstone has a lovely blue or white iridescent sheen and should change in colour under different lighting. Fake moonstones will always have the same opaqueness or translucence. A jeweller once told me that real moonstones are quite cool to the touch, whereas fake ones are room temperature. A lot of jewellery these days passes off opalite as moonstone and amethyst can be heat treated and passed off as citrine. Quartz points often come from China and are made from slag glass.

If I were to buy a piece of jewellery with amber, moonstone, citrine or amethyst for example – I would be buying antique as there’s less chance of it being fake. In fact, a few years back I pounced on a spectacular citrine cocktail ring from the 1950s. It’s much paler than the rich or bright yellow citrines that you can buy these days, which are often heat-treated.

So when I spotted this gorgeous modernist silver bracelet, with UFO-style shapes embedded with moonstones, I had to mentally gather up all the knowledge I’d accumulated on fake gemstones. I’m certainly no expert but I asked the jeweller if I could look at the bracelet in all different lights (to see how the moonstones changed colour). He was very accommodating. I investigated the hallmark and asked him to show me in the Swedish silver hallmark book the hallmark for Alton (a leading Swedish silver jewellery design company first registered in the 1940s and located in Falköping). The jeweller had dated the bracelet to 1956.

I decided I needed to go back to the hotel and do a spot of quick internet research before purchasing. I wanted to check out similar Alton designs and research the hallmark more, as well as remind myself of how to spot fake moonstones. The next day, I was pretty convinced I was dealing with an authentic mid-20th Century Swedish piece and returned to the shop, dragging my UN colleague along.

After a bit of haggling (which I noticed the Swedes don’t really like) I bought the bracelet for 1,150 Swedish Krona or around NZ$200.00 (well, actually at the time I pounced, the NZ dollar was stronger, so it was around $198.00). The original price was 1,250 Krona. I recently saw another mid-1950’s Alton bracelet on eBay going for US$220.00 or around NZ$267.00 and it was nowhere near as beautiful nor did it have moonstones. So I think I picked up a good deal and I just love the moonstones and bracelet.

1956 Alton Swedish silver bracelet with moonstones.

Back of bracelet – wonderful workmanship!

Alton hallmark.