Maybe you found an old bracelet in your grandmother’s jewelry box. Or you want to dispose of that ring from your ex. Regardless of its source, you want to be sure of a piece’s worth before selling it. Keep in mind that jewelry value isn’t always obvious. A piece you consider worthless might cost much more than you think.
On the other hand, flashy ornaments might not be as valuable as you'd think at first. A reliable estimation of jewelry value can only be obtained by a professional jeweler or assessor. However, there are some indications that even laymen can detect in order to get a hint at the value of a piece of jewelry.
Check the Hallmarks
Unless the symbol was erased or the piece is beyond 100 years, the jewelry should bear a hallmark. You may need to clean your ornament to reveal the engraving or get readers and a jeweler’s loop. Start by looking for stamps indicating the designer’s name. Ordinarily, these marks appear on an earring’s post, a necklace’s clasp, or a ring’s inside. These marks also display a metal’s fineness. Take the example of gold. Karat content is usually a number followed by “K”, for instance, 14K. On the other hand, platinum ratings include “PLATINUM” and “PLAT”, while silver has hallmarks like “999” or “925”.
Regardless of the engraving, the presence of a hallmark indicates jewelry value. This goes hand in hand with the setting. Although some high-quality costume pieces contain prongs, the stones are mostly secured by glue. Your costume jewelry isn’t worth much if the cameo is glued to the setting and lacks prongs. That is unlike fine jewelry features bezel or prong settings.
Determine the Weight
Typically, silver and gold weigh more than alloys such as pewter and brass. Chances are, the metal is counterfeit or hollow if it feels lighter than similar gold and silver ornaments. Weight is especially important for bangles and chains. The heavier and longer the piece, the higher its jewelry value. You require a sensitive scale for gold ornaments.
Weighing jewelry can be further complicated by mixed alloys and decorative stones. Many items are plated with gold or other precious metals. Other times, different karat or purity levels are mixed. When measuring to determine value or integrity, always groups metals of the same karat together and remove decorative stones and other elements.
Test the Metal
Magnets come in handy to identify genuine gold. The results are more accurate when you use strong magnets. Imitations and alloys attract magnets. You can also use the magnet test on sterling silver. Since it contains copper as its main alloy, sterling silver doesn’t attract magnets. Remember to check other parts of your ornament, like chain clasps. Sometimes, clasps have different metals that could be magnetic.
You can also inspect your gold jewelry under bright light. Spotting indicates the gold plating is fading, revealing the metal underneath. Moreover, solid gold should feel smooth and consistent. Another option is placing ice on silver. The ice should melt immediately thanks to the metal’s high thermal conductivity. But don’t stop at one test. You can only be sure of a metal’s authenticity when you use different techniques.
Finding a Buyer
Do you need to sell some old jewelry? While finding a direct buyer may be attractive, in order to preserve more profits for yourself, sellers should be wary of bad-faith offers. The most reliable way to get the right value for your items is to go to a local, certified jeweler for a professional evaluation and offer. Contact Ralph Mueller and Associates to get an offer for your fine jewelry. We are a trusted, GIA-Certified local institution. Our team of professional jewelers and appraisors can give you a great value.