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Are pre-owned luxury bags worth selling?

Hi Chris - I inherited some vintage designer handbags and Louis Vuitton luggage from an aunt. Are they worth selling?

-Couture in Cary


Dear Couture,


The answer is… maybe. 


Luxury goods are the category that we have had the most problems with in the past. And the reason for that is that there are many fakes out there. How can you tell if your item is a fake?


  1. Keep an eye out for detail. Luxury goods fetch a premium because they are made of high grade materials by exceptional craftsmen. Stitching on luxury handbags and luggage should be straight and uniform. There should not be excess material inside and zippers and pulls should work smoothly and will rarely be stamped “China”. 

  2. Find the model / serial number. Many modern luxury goods that were produced in the last 20+ years will have model numbers and/or serial numbers that are unique to the piece, which helps to reduce the likelihood that you purchase a counterfeit item secondhand. A number of websites and blogs exist that can provide serial numbers for particular pieces. And if you’re still not sure, you can always go to a boutique or e-mail the manufacturer for confirmation.

  3. Keep the box / paperwork. Buyers are more likely to pay more money for luxury goods that include the original boxes, dust bags, tags, and receipts from reputable sellers. While it’s not common for most people to save these items, they do make it easier to resell the goods later on.

  4. Do a Google image search. If you’re still not sure about a particular piece, download the Google app and do an image search for your item. If you can find identical examples of the piece on reputable resale sites (such as Postmark and the Real Real), there’s a higher chance that your vintage piece is real, too.


Although some people may still wish to sell “knock offs” on eBay, non-authentic luxury goods are not permitted on the platform and such listings are often swiftly removed. Violations can result in the account being suspended or even the expulsion of the seller from the platform. Whenever we’re in doubt of the authenticity of a piece, we typically decline to take it on consignment out of an abundance of caution. 

Selling on Craigslist & Facebook Marketplace

I'm trying to sell a good-quality Lane bedroom suite on Craigslist, and I'm not having much luck.  My neighbor recommended "Facebook Marketplace," but I've never used it before and I'm not sure I trust it.  Do you recommend it?  Is it safe?
-Stuck in Bed, Pittsboro NC


Both Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace can be good outlets to sell household goods, furniture, and tools locally. Here are some basic guidelines to sell on either platform:


First, you'll need to document anything that you want to sell thoroughly. This means clear pictures from multiple angles without a lot of clutter in the photo. You'll need to provide information on any damage, defects, or missing parts. Dimensions and weight (if possible) are always good to include, too.


Next, you need to price your item(s). You can do this by looking at similar listings in your area. Prices can vary wildly, so it's best to take an average of the prices that you find in the middle. Be aware that most interested buyers may want to haggle on the price, so you may want to start it a little higher than what you're willing to accept.


Finally, it's time to post your items and be patient. Be aware that both Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace get lots of views from local buyers, but there are also a lot of scammers on there, too. The most reliable way to conduct a sale is cash in person at a location of your choosing. Do not agree to accept online payments (such as Zelle) in advance, as they're often just scams.


And if all of this sounds like too much work, that's probably because it is for most people. Reputable furniture consignment stores exist to take all of the hassle out of selling furniture. For a 50% commission, they will pick-up, market, and sell your furniture without you having to go through all of the trouble yourself. We like to send referrals to Classic Treasures and Always Home Furniture Consignment, both located in Durham.

How can I tell if my artwork is real?

Dear Chris - I have an oil painting signed by a famous artist that I’m considering selling, but my wife thinks it may be a reproduction.  I’m not an expert on art, how can I tell if my painting is genuine?  Is a reproduction worth selling?  
--Harrison P., Apex NC


That's a great question! The first thing to do is to inspect the painting closely. Does it appear to be an original work or a print? Oftentimes, a print will show evidence of being printed in that the work will be composed of small dots from the printer and/or all of the coloring may be uniform and flat. Original paintings are often textured and have variation in the colors, as they were applied by human hand and not a machine.


If it passes this step, then it's time to examine the artist's signature. Is it identical to previously sold works that have already been authenticated? This may require access to a reference book on the artist or a specialized artist database, such as . While an artist's signature can vary over time, there is typically a uniform element to how their works are signed. 


Finally, if you believe the work to be original and it's passed the previous two steps, it may be worth having the work professionally appraised. An appraiser that specializes in fine art will duplicate the previous steps, but may also reach out to someone who specializes in a particular genre or artist. This step can be both time consuming and expensive (costing several hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the potential value of the piece and level of expertise involved). However, for any piece of art that is exceptionally valuable, it may very well be worth the investment to confirm the origin of the piece.

Why is my ring selling for less than the appraisal value?

Dear Chris - I need to sell my grandmother’s antique ruby and diamond ring.  It’s 18k gold with a large ruby and ten small diamonds.   It was appraised in 2004 for $25,000.  I took it to two different jewelry stores and the best offer I received was less than $5,000, which doesn’t even come close to the appraisal value.  

Can you sell it for the $25,000 appraisal price?  It’s a really pretty ring!
--Angela H.


Unfortunately, we see this scenario quite often. Clients with jewelry often come in hand with an appraisal and expect to receive the full appraisal price or a slightly discounted price, but that's not how appraisals work. A written appraisal is merely a document that lists the retail replacement price of an item for insurance purposes. So if you had an item insured for the full appraisal amount and it were lost or stolen, the insurance company would give you up to the full amount to replace your item with a comparable item. 


What most consignors don't realize is that jewelry is marked up a lot by jewelry stores, typically 300%-500% over their wholesale price. I've even seen it as high as 1000%. And this means that when you go to sell your piece and get closer to the wholesale price for it, it tends to be quite a shock!


There is no shortage of estate jewelry out there, with literally tens of thousands of rings, bracelets, earrings, etc. available for purchase online at any given time. What does determine value is the manufacturer, the quality / condition of the piece, and provenance. Designer pieces tend to be worth more because they're well-known and more expensive to begin with. If your piece has exceptionally good quality stones, it's worth more than a comparable piece with average quality stones. If it has damage or needs repairs, it appeals to fewer potential buyers. And finally, if it has interesting provenance (it was owned by someone famous or has historical significance), that may increase the value, too.

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