How Much is My Jewelry Worth?

So, you found a piece of jewelry that you think you can trade for some cash. Great! Before you start looking for selling outlets, you’ll first need to see if your jewelry is even valuable. You’re probably thinking, “Well — how much is my jewelry worth?”.

Well, think twice before going straight to an appraiser to find out. The smart choice is to get an idea of what your jewelry is worth before you get it appraised. That way, you can know the unique characteristics of your piece, make the right sale and ensure you don’t get swindled for something that’s actually rare and very valuable.

Here are some areas to assess for before you go to an appraiser:

  • Real jewelry vs. fake jewelry.
  • Jewelry inspection.
  • Jewelry weight.
  • Appraisal type.

Is it Real or Fake?

Before taking time out of your day to bring jewelry to an appraiser, evaluate the item for any seams that may indicate if a mold was used. When looking closely, you can determine if the item is plastic if you can spot a seam. Check the back for any hallmarks or stamps of authenticity. If the piece was made of any precious metals, it would be stamped accordingly.

Common gold hallmarks: 18K, 14K, 10K, 750, 585, 375.
Common platinum hallmarks: 950, PLATINUM, PLAT.
Common silver hallmarks: 925, Silver, 800, Sterling.

You could take an extra step and do some old-school research. Take a look at recent books that give values for jewelry; there are many currently in print. Another way to research your jewelry value is to go look at similar items online and see what they’re priced at.

Inspect Your Jewelry

Now that you know you’re dealing with the real thing, move on to thoroughly inspecting your jewelry. Here are things to look for:

  • Hallmarks
    As previously mentioned, the numbers that appear stamped in jewelry are hallmarks that indicate the type of metal used. Since the use of hallmarks on silver has a long history dating back to the 4th century AD, it would be wise to cross check any peculiar marks found on your piece. There are some additional hallmarks that will give you an idea of who and where the item was manufactured. Modern manufacturers such as Tiffany & Co., Tacori, and Cartier all have their own trademark/hallmark and should be appraised for authenticity. Sarah Coventry, AVON, & Trifari are some common costume jewelry hallmarks.
  • Prongs
    Does your piece have prongs? If so, this is a very good indicator that it may be worth something. Even some vintage costume jewelry that utilize prongs throughout the piece to keep stones in place may be worth more than expected.
  • Clues for Worth
    If you come across black jewelry, don’t automatically toss it in the “fake” pile. In fact, this may be one of the biggest indicators of its antiquity. For a long time, dark, black jewelry was en vogue. With the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria declared an extended period of mourning and the jewelry of that time utilized dark, somber colors.

Weigh Your Jewelry

Weighing your jewelry will be a great indicator of its probable worth, especially when assessing chains and bangles. Gold and silver will be heavier than their less precious counterparts, such as brass and pewter. Solid gold jewelry will feel very smooth, heavy and consistent. You won’t see a variance in color (with wear) with solid gold or platinum, but that is not the case with white gold. Use a well-calibrated household scale to weigh your items. This household gram scale and calibration weight sold on Amazon would work well for this purpose.

So, how much is my jewelry worth? Well, that depends…

Before you go in to appraise your jewelry, know what type of appraisal you require. The type of appraisal will affect the appraised worth of your item. If you’re valuing your estate for tax purposes, you’ll require an estate value appraisal. If you’re valuing an item in order to insure it, then that is called a retail replacement value.

When it comes to estate jewelry, the retail replacement value and the estate value will usually be the same. This is because the IRS requires appraisers to use fair market value, defined as an estimate of the current price at which a similar item (in size, weight, quality, condition and utility) is sold by an establishment in its most common market.

Estate or period jewelry cannot be replaced with a new item, so it would be assumed that the replacement would be a similar used item. If you want to sell a piece of used jewelry, then its “worth” would be its liquidation value. Generally, a liquidation value is based on the immediate cash value of your item and is its lowest valuation.

Be a smart seller when dealing with items of value. Do your research before you go to an appraiser to protect yourself against crooks and know what you’re selling to ensure you get the best price for your jewelry.

Have a good idea of your jewelry worth? Stop by Diamond Buyers for a free diamond, gold or jewelry estimate.

Not in Houston? Learn about our mail-in appraisal process.

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