What Makes Designer Jewelry Valuable?

Monetary value of jewelry is all over the map. Whether you have inherited a piece of jewelry from a family member or found one at an estate sale, it can be exciting wondering what it could possibly be worth. A piece that may seem like a simple chain to the untrained eye could easily be worth thousands of dollars. Another could look intricate but really only be worth a few dollars.

There are a few ways to see if the jewelry you own is valuable. So, before you take anything to an appraiser, use these steps to check and see if your designer jewelry is valuable. After Steps 1-3, there will be a few additional ways to determine the value of your designer jewelry.

Trash or Treasure – What Makes Designer Jewelry Valuable?

Step 1: Inspect the prongs.

Diamond Ring with Prong calloutFirst, let’s take a look at the prongs. Prongs are the metal projections that hold the stone in place on a piece of jewelry. Fine, designer jewelry will be well crafted. Each stone will be set carefully into the piece’s prong settings. The bezel setting is different than a prong setting, but it should also be inspected. Instead of using a claw to secure the stone, a bezel is a single ring of metal that surrounds the entirety of the diamond or stone.

Step 2: Look for hallmarks.

Jewelry hallmarkNow, when looking at a piece of jewelry, there will be a hallmark or hallmarks letting the buyer know a few different things. One hallmark tells us the metal content of a piece, and the other (if there is another) will tell us either the country of origin, designer, or manufacturer. Not sure where to find the hallmarks? With rings and bracelets, you will find the hallmark on the inside. Earrings have them on their posts, while necklace hallmarks can be found on their clasp. Here are some common hallmarks you may find on your jewelry:

  • Gold hallmarks: 18K, 14K, 10K, 750, 585, and 375.
  • Platinum hallmarks: PLAT, PLATINUM, and 950
  • Silver hallmarks: 925, 800, Sterling, and Silver

In fact, modern jewelers such as Tiffany & Co., Tacori, and Cartier all have their own trademark/hallmark and should be appraised for authenticity.

Step 3: Test the weight

Authentic, true gold and silver will weigh more than counterfeit jewelry metal, such as pewter and brass. This step comes in handy when you have chains or bangles. Real gold is smooth and heavy, and its color does not wear off over time. To weigh your jewelry at home, you can use a well-calibrated household scale.

Branding, Scarcity, and Craftsmanship

It’s important to note, the pieces likely to demand a high resale value have a level of craftsmanship in addition to scarcity that makes them stand out from the pieces that are produced year after year. Furthermore, such pieces appreciate beyond the value of their metals and gems. These are not the run-of-the-mill pieces that a mall jeweler might sell. When determining the value of a piece of jewelry, brands are very important. There are only about half a dozen jewelry designers that are known world-wide for quality. Brands such as Buccellati, Tiffany & Co., Bvlgari, Van Cleef & Arples, Cartier, and Piaget are recognized for their quality, which makes them easier to sell. These brands are known to take extraordinary care when crafting their pieces.

“You can melt the metal and take out the stones, but when you talk about collectible jewelry, you want to make sure the provenance of the piece is provable.” Muffie Potter Aston, former executive vice president of marketing and advertising for Van Cleef & Arpels

Craftsmanship, meaning that they are carefully hand-made and not mass machine produced, lends to their scarcity. Since these designers have a reputation for taking time to carefully create their jewelry, there aren’t too many of those exact pieces in circulation at the same. When something is mass-produced, the quality will absolutely suffer. One way to be sure your piece is high-end and crafted by hand is to look at the finishing. The finishing on a piece is something that happens to the jewelry at the very end. This occurs after the diamonds or the gemstones have been set into the piece of jewelry, and that is when you want to make sure that everything is even. If you see irregularities, bumps, solder marks, or any sort of nicks and scratches, then those are signs that the ring hasn’t been finished properly. High-end, well-crafted pieces will have a smooth finish. Another good sign of gorgeous craftsmanship is the setting of the stones. Clean and crisp pieces will have clearly defined settings.

What to do with Valuable Designer Jewelry

Remember, it is perfectly acceptable to visit multiple appraisers. This is your jewelry, you are the seller. Be sure to do plenty of research when it comes to the items you are wanting to sell. Find out how authentic it is, then look for a buyer who has a good reputation and will give you the best value for your pieces.

If you are ready to get an offer for your jewelry, we would love to help.


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