Sell Antique Jewelry

It is easy enough to sell antique jewelry. You have several options when it comes to finding buyers. However, finding how much your antique jewelry is worth is not so easy. To find out what a good price you should accept requires a little research, and the best place to sell it.

Make a true assessment

The first thing you have to do is to take a good look at what you have. See if you find it esthetically pleasing. If you are unable to look at it objectively because of its emotional associations, ask the opinion of someone else. Check online and in magazines for the style of antique or vintage jewelry that are currently making waves in the fashion industry. If you find your vintage jewelry is all the rage, it will be that much easier to sell it. Don’t feel too bad if some people find it ugly, or it isn’t in fashion. The sentimental value often outstrips the actual market value. If you can’t any added value for it being as antique, you can still get something for it for its gemstones and metal.

Think about the condition

The truth is the condition of your jewelry will affect its selling price. The less worn the jewelry, the better it will sell. That is going to be  a bit tough with antique jewelry, some of which may be damaged, You may even be missing some gemstones.. You can’t do much about it being worn, except have it properly cleaned and polished, but if it is damaged or missing gemstones, you can have it restored or replaced so you can sell it for a higher price. However, repair can cost a lot, so if the added value will not justify the cost, it may not be a good idea to restore it.

Have it appraised

If you think you have something that’s worth it based on research and what you know about its history, you may want to have it appraised. You will have to pay for a written one, though, especially if you get it from a professional organization such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), of the local jewelry store. It could run into quite a bit when the piece run into the thousands, especially when gemstones are involved. You cannot depend on the insurance appraisal, if you have it, as it is usually at most twice the retail value.  If you have older appraisals (not for insurance) will still be good for telling you about the gemstones (if any) and metal, but you need one that will give you current values.  However,  you can expect the value of jewelry to double every 7 years if it has precious metal.

Clean it up

Cleaning it is a good idea to make your antique jewelry look attractive. However, you have to be very careful how you do it because some antiques are delicate, and some gemstones may need special care. In most cases, mild dish soap, warm water, and a soft toothbrush will make your jewelry shine.

  • Don’t use hard toothbrushes; they can damage gemstones and high finesse gold, which is very soft
  • Never use chlorine for gemstones and gold
  • A soft microfiber cloth is safer than a toothbrush
  • Do not use hot or cold water

However, if you are not sure, have a professional jeweler clean it for you, and make sure it is someone who knows what she or he is doing. Some jewelers use ammonia-based cleaning solutions, or using steam or a sonic machine, which could ruin some metals and gemstones. You want to make sure you don’t damage it in anyway and bring down its value or make it unsellable.  Here are other things you need to know about cleaning your antique jewelry:

Check the markings

You can check what purity you have is by checking the marking.  Some very old pieces may not have markings, but it won’t hurt to check. You may see something like 21K or 18K. This refers to the proportion of gold against other metals in the jewelry. Purity of gold is indicated with the unit “karat.” This is different from the unit used in measuring the weight of diamond, which is “carat.” Pure gold is 24 karats, or 24K. If the marking is 21K, then that means it is 21 parts gold and 3 parts other metal/s.  Interesting tidbit: You might find some marking for 23K if it came from India or China, but unlikely if it came from the US or UK.

Of course, the marking is not always to be trusted. You can easily be duped into buying counterfeit or fake gold jewelry, which is actually just gold-plated or gold-filled lead or other non-precious metal. You can avoid that now by buying your jewelry from a reputable jewelry store or pawnbroker. To check for the gold content, you can bring it to a pawnbroker or jeweler. A quick DIY test for gold is to use a  magnet. If it’s gold, it won’t stick.

Check the gems

You will have to know a little about gemstones if you have them. The most popular are diamonds, of course, but many antique jewelry have other types of stones that may not be easy to identify for the untrained eye. You might think it’s an amethyst, but it could be a sapphire. The only really good way to find out what your gemstones are worth are to have it professionally appraised.

Find a seller

The quickest way to sell antique jewelry is still the local jewelry store, especially if it is one that specializes in vintage pieces. It is not always easy to find one, but there are people that will pay good money for a truly classic antique. Most antique jewelry is made with 10K or 14K gold, and the gems may not be particularly valuable, but some pieces have other value other than the recyclable value of its metal and gems.  You may not get top dollar, but you get spot cash for it. You will probably get a higher price by putting it in auction, online or otherwise. Some collectors do look for antique jewelry, so they are more likely to offer a good price, but you may have to wait a while.