Which is more fun, getting a root canal, paying your taxes, or selling your jewelry? Not much of a choice, but following is some knowledge that can take the frustration out of selling your jewelry. And answer the hard questions like: Will I receive a fair price for my jewelry? Or did I pay too much?
The two critical areas of knowledge to get the best price for your jewelry are the factors that determine the value of estate jewelry and the options to liquidating it. Does this mean you have to become a gemologist just to sell your jewelry? No. But some homework and note taking can mean a much higher price paid for your jewelry. Let's start with what determines the value of estate jewelry.
Estate is a general term used to describe previously owned. That fact is one of the determining factors. Preowned jewelry by in large is not as valuable as new. Some people will never buy a previous owned engagement set for superstitious reasons. I have had clients who could have saved hundreds of dollars if they would have bought a preowned ring, but refused.
Jewelry is a style driven industry. Some styles are classic and stay around for decades, others last just a few months. Estate jewelry that is out of style can't command premium price. In fact some styles are so out of favor that the jewelry's only value is its intrinsic worth. The other extreme is that the jewelry could be antique. Antique jewelry is highly collectible and may require a specialty option to sell. Knowing if your jewelry is just old and out of style or an antique can mean the difference of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Condition is a major determining factor of the price received for your jewelry. Damaged and broken jewelry many times justify the restoration costs but most of the time damaged jewelry is only valued at its intrinsic worth. Jewelry repair in many instances is counter-intuitive. I have seen jewelry that has been mangled in such a way that the cost of restoration is minor and easily justified. On the other hand what appeared to be an insignificant problem rendered the jewelry unrestorable. Jewelry repair is one area you don't want to be a "do it yourselfer". Let the professionals do it, or it could end up costing you a ton of money.
Worn out jewelry impacts the value. It is a difficult repair to bring life back into a piece of jewelry. Most worn out jewelry is valued at its intrinsic worth.
Remember you don't get paid for the jewelry in relation to what you paid but the condition and demand when you sell.
Jewelry looks it's best when cleaned. Properly clean your jewelry before showing it around. If you do not know the 100% correct way to clean your piece of jewelry let a professional jeweler clean it for you. Some jewelry stores may even clean it for free. Warning: the wrong cleaning can damage and even destroy jewelry. If your are unsure of how to clean the jewelry or gem, let the professionals do it.
Here are some cleaning tips. Never clean gold and gems in chlorine. Ammonia based cleaning products are used throughout the jewelry industry, but they can damage some gems. Try and avoid them if you can and know for certain if they well not hurt the gems in your jewelry. Use a mild soap with warm water and a soft toothbrush, then rinse thoroughly for most jewelry. A hard toothbrush and toothpaste or toothpowder will scratch gold and hurt some gems. The best cleaning tip is to know for certain the best cleaners to use on your jewelry and do it carefully.
The jewelry industry has been recycling for millennia. In fact some of the gold in your jewelry could have been in use since the time of Jesus. Damaged beyond repair jewelry is bought at its intrinsic worth. The intrinsic value is the metal (gold, platinum, silver) price plus any gems. The refining process used to recover the metal utilizes strong chemicals and has strict environmental regulations which impact the price given for metal brought to be recycled.
If you would like to know how to calculate the metal price and do the math read on, if not skip to next paragraph. The formula used to calculate the price is the metal price(the daily spot price) multiplied by purity(the true noble metal content) times weight(can be in ounces, pennyweights or grams) . The purity is the karat of gold or percentage of noble metal (gold, platinum, silver). 24 karat is pure. 10 karat is 10/24 or .410 gold and the balance of weight is the alloys. 14 karat is 14/24 or .583 gold and 18 karat is 18/24 or .750 gold. Platinum most of the time is 90% pure and 10% alloy. Silver jewelry is usually sterling, which is .925 pure. The three units of weight used with precious metals are troy ounces, pennyweights, and grams. The troy ounce is equal to 20 pennyweights (dwt) or 31.15 grams. So here is an example; say the spot price of gold is $300 and a 14K ring weighing 10 grams would work out like this. $300 (spot price) X .583 (the fineness of gold) equals $174.90 per ounce divided by 31.15 (troy ounce to gram) equals $5.63 per gram times our ring of 10 grams equals $56.30. Just remember to subtract some refining cost and profit for the dealer and you can find out the intrinsic metal value for your jewelry.
Gems are an important part of jewelry. The estate jewelry value could be 99% determined by the gem. On the other hand the gem could add zero to the value. The two critical factors are the gem itself and the condition. Some gems have a higher value then others. A natural ruby is worth many times more then a synthetic ruby. Diamonds are generally more valuable then amethysts. Knowing your gem's grade and rarity will help with understanding its value. The condition of the gem is critical to the value. Some chips and abrasions can justify the repolishing cost. But in most cases chips and scratches will render the gem unappealing and valueless. Tip: careful handling of jewelry retains a higher value then carelessness.
The overview of the determining factors of estate jewelry is style, condition, and intrinsic worth. Remember you don't get paid for the jewelry in relation to what you paid but the condition and demand when you sell. Clean jewelry shows the item at its best and helps in evaluating the design and gems.