Does the wedding ring you inherited from your grandmother have any value? Could the bracelet you picked up at the antique store be worth more than you thought? Fine jewelry is precious and highly valuable to many people, as it is easy to appreciate such beauty and history.
Both men and women alike have created and worn decorative ornaments of any material from bone to precious metals and stones since the very beginnings of human civilisation. They can function as tokens of wealth, status, tradition, or simply fashion. However, it can be difficult to ascertain the value of such items, as their worth can range from anywhere from a few dollars to the price of a house. In order to do so accurately, one must possess a great depth of detailed knowledge and experience about jewelry, otherwise the results can be detrimental.
Assessing the worth of a piece of jewelry can be very complicated, as there are countless aspects to take into consideration when doing so, as well as a number of approaches. A piece of fine jewelry possesses estate retail value, estate wholesale value, as well as intrinsic value. Estate retail value refers to the price an item would sell directly to a used jewelry customer, for example if one was to sell a piece on a website like Ebay or Craigslist. Estate wholesale value estimates the price a business who sells used jewelry is willing to pay for it; this is generally less than the estate retail value as they must aim to make a profit. Intrinsic value, typically of the least monetary value, is how much the raw materials that make up the jewelry are worth, usually a combination of the current metal and gem value.
A good place to begin when deciding whether a piece of jewelry is valuable or not, is to check for it’s hallmark. This is a mark stamped onto a part of the jewelry piece, which should reveal its metal content, or its country of origin, designer, and manufacturer. If an item is indeed a fine piece, younger than 100 years old and in good condition, one should be able to find the hallmark on the back of the inside of a ring or bracelet, at the clasp of a necklace, or at the back post of an earring. There are many types of hallmarks that exist; some gold examples are 18K, 14K, 10K, 750, 585, 375, platinum examples are 950, PLATINUM, PLAT, and silver examples are 925, Silver, 800, Sterling. Other hallmarks that indicate a piece is valuable are Tiffany & Co, Cartier, and Tacori, although these should be appraised for authenticity, as forgeries do exist. If a hallmark bears names such as Avon, Trifari, Sarah Coventry, or appears new but has no hallmark at all, it is likely a piece of costume jewelry and thus does not possess very much value.
"A piece of fine jewelry possesses estate retail value, estate wholesale value, as well as intrinsic value."
Especially important when assessing all metal items like chains or bangles, assessing the weight of a piece can also be indicative of its value. Precious metals like gold and silver tend to be much heavier than fake counterparts such as brass and pewter. If a piece feels light, it is likely either composed of cheap materials, or else is hollow gold or silver. Solid gold or silver metal is consistently heavy, and smooth all around the piece. Solid gold or platinum will not change color if worn down, so if there are spots of discoloration, this is indicative of the piece being gold plated and thus not worth very much money.
Another step one can take in ascertaining an item of jewelry’s value is inspecting the prongs. Prongs are the small metal fixtures of a piece that are used to hold a precious stone in place. Whereas costume jewelry will use glue to secure its parts, a fine piece of jewelry will feature an expertly crafted set of bezels and prongs to set in all its stones and gems, only with the exception of pearls. One exception however is that if a piece of costume jewelry is vintage and features many stones held in place by prongs, it can at times be worth just as much as a piece of real fine jewelry so long as it is clean and in good condition.
As the process of establishing a jewelry piece’s worth can be so nebulous and multi-faceted, undoubtedly the most important step in this journey is to have it professionally appraised. An item can only reach its full potential of value when it has been tested and verified by a trustworthy outside party, thus removing the risk of falsity. This should be the ultimate goal for someone who is seriously considering selling, or simply verifying their own piece of fine jewelry. Luckily, ValueMyStuff offers appraisals and valuation by professionals for your items so you can feel perfectly safe and secure in attaining their value!