Trader Chris Staff
Is My Jewelry Worth Selling? Five Ways to Know!
Updated: Sep 30, 2021
Do you have jewelry that you never wear and is just collecting dust? Have you ever considered turning that jewelry into cash? Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start – how much are vintage pins and costume jewelry items actually worth? Here are five questions to ask when determining the worth of your extra jewelry.
1. How is it made, and what is it made of?
The question here is one of quality . . . is this a well-made piece? If it’s marked 24K, 18K, 14K, 585 or 750 then the item is made of gold and will command a higher price based just on the gold content alone. Well-made pieces may also contain sterling silver. But a piece doesn’t have to be fine jewelry to be sellable, costume jewelry can also be high quality. Look for stones that are set with prongs (as opposed to glued in) and settings with open backs; glass rhinestones are usually worth more than plastic ones. Details should be well defined, edges finished, and any hardware should work smoothly.
2. Is it signed?
What’s in a name? A lot, at least where jewelry is concerned. An artist’s signature, maker’s mark, stamp or hallmark can definitely add to the value of a jewelry piece. Most importantly it tells us who made the piece, but it also offers clues as to when and where the jewelry was created. Most marks are found on the backs of pieces, but you may need a jeweler’s loop or magnifier to help you see them clearly. Sometimes the hallmark will only contain initials or symbols-- a quick search on the web will often decipher them.
It most likely isn’t a surprise that items from Tiffany’s have a high resale value, but many costume jewelry pieces and contemporary designers are also in demand—even jewelry that you may have purchased from QVC.
Although by no means a comprehensive list, some names to look for include:
Tiffany’s, Pandora, Lagos Caviar
James Avery, Kirk’s Folly, Joan Rivers (select pieces), Relios,
Barbara Bixby, Milor
Vintage Pin/Rhinestone Jewelry
Eisenberg, Weiss, Hattie Carnegie, Regency
3. Where was it made?
Some, but not all, jewelry is stamped with a country of origin. Pieces made in the USA, Italy, or other parts of Europe tend to be of higher quality and worth more than pieces made in some other parts of the world. Mexican pieces can vary depending on the quality of the piece. Although there are exceptions, oftentimes jewelry made in Thailand and Asian countries will be of lesser quality and have lesser value.
4. Is it in great condition?
The condition of your jewelry can affect an auction price by hundreds of dollars, and a clean, functional piece with intact stones will command the highest prices. Check your jewelry for working hardware (earring clips, pin backs, clasps). It’s not at all unusual for rhinestone jewelry to have missing or broken stones; check your items carefully to be sure that all stones are intact and not chipped. Clean items also sell better than dirty ones, I promise you that cleaning your piece is worth the effort!
5. Is it rare or is it collectible?
A piece may be in great condition and have a popular designer, but if there are 100 sellers offering the same piece, the price will go down. So, how to find out if you have a collectible item?
Consider doing an eBay search. Type in your item and see how many similar pieces are for sale and what current prices look like. I also recommend doing an advanced search for “sold” items, it will reveal much clearer information as to what items are actually selling for (as opposed to asking prices).
Determining the worth of fine, vintage and costume jewelry items isn’t difficult, it just takes a keen eye and a little investigation. At Trader Chris we have years of experience evaluating and selling all types of jewelry, so if you have any questions please give us a call – we’ll be happy to help!