November 6th, 2013

How to verify authenticity of a historical objet d'art?

Googled: authenticating works of art, authenticating faberge eggs, dating of precious metals, would an art expert authenticate a faberge egg, would a jeweler authenticate a faberge egg, how to tell forgery of objet d'art, and various permutations thereof.

In my novel this year, my MC finds one of the lost Faberge eggs. I want her to be able to tell that it's real, not some later modern forgery. What I don't know is what profession would be able to do that. My gut says an art expert, but the Faberge eggs were all crafted from enamel and/or precious metals (the egg in question was chiseled from one huge block of nephrite, with a gold base and diamonds around a medallion portrait set into the egg) - would a jeweler be a better bet?

That said, once I have the correct profession, how would they be able to tell it was real? Can precious metals be dated? What about precious stones (carbon dating maybe, on the diamonds)? Obviously, the style can be examined, but a really good forgery might be able to replicate the workmaster's style.

This is kind of important, so I would be eternally grateful for a push in the right direction. I also apologize for the lack of tags; I have no idea what else to put, as there's no "art" tag or anything like that.