Thinking of selling your jewelry or curious about what it may be worth? We've gathered some pointers to help you get started. The first thing to determine is whether you have fine jewelry (precious metal/gemstone) or costume pieces.
Look for a gold mark (12K, 14K, 18K), sterling silver mark (925) or platinum mark (950, 999).
Examine your jewelry, and look for a mark (usually a number) that indicates its metal content. Metal marks include a gold mark (12K, 14K, 18K), sterling silver mark (925) or--more rare-- a platinum mark (950, 999). If your piece is made from precious metal it is fine jewelry and has value from the metal content alone. If there is also a maker's mark--a name, brand, initials or symbol--the jewelry may be worth even more.
Look for a maker's mark (small initials, signature or symbol).
If your jewelry doesn't have a metal mark, it may be costume--especially if it has stones made of glass or plastic. Just because jewelry is costume doesn't automatically mean it's without value. Many vintage costume pieces are collectible, especially if they are signed (have a maker's mark) and in good condition.
The overall condition of your piece contributes to it's worth, whether it's fine or costume. Look closely and observe whether the metal is smooth with little indication of wear or if there are dents and scratches.
If the piece contains gemstones, check the condition of the stones with a magnifying glass or jewelers loop for chips or scratches. Gemstones in excellent condition will photograph and sell much better.
Check costume jewelry for any missing or broken rhinestones, as these will detract from the overall value. Interestingly, pieces with red or ruby colored stones command higher prices than other colors. Costume jewelry with colored stones is more popular and sellable than jewelry with clear stones.
Does your piece have an appraisal? In reality, Jewelry rarely sells for the full insurance appraisal price, but buyers will pay more for a piece that has appraisal paperwork. So it's worth tracking down those papers!
Does your jewelry have a story of cultural or historical significance -- for example, did it once belong to a celebrity or historical figure? A good story can add to the value of your piece, especially if it's documented.