Lifestyle & Culture

Selling Grandma’s Jewels

May 29, 2014




MOST OF US at one time or another have been given or have inherited jewelry that isn’t quite our taste.  The pieces just sit in a jewelry box, never seeing the light of day.  The question is what to do with these treasures of days past when there’s not much chance you’ll ever wear them.

One seemingly simple option is to sell them. But where?  And for how much?  Before you head to your nearest jeweler, some important things to consider.

Know What to Expect
Take a peek at what gold is selling for on the stock market on any given day.  Gold is made in a unit of purity for gold alloy in Karat or “K,” rather than weight.  A good rule of thumb to remember is the higher the karat, the higher the purity of the gold.  For example, 21 kt gold is purer than 14 kt.  If you’re selling 14 kt gold jewelry, be prepared to receive about half of the selling price for an ounce of gold on any given day.  Also, know the weight of your gold.  Gold is weighted in grams and ounces.  There are approximately 32 grams in one troy ounce (a unit of measure for weight that dates back to the Middle Ages).  Some dealers will buy your gold in pennyweights.  There are 20 pennyweights in one troy ounce of gold.  So before selling, ask your buyer if they are offering you a price per pennyweight or per gram – they are two different calculations.  Remember to get the total dollar price of what the buyer is willing to pay you.

Know What You’re Selling
Get the jewelry you want to sell appraised. You’ll feel more confident about entering into a negotiation if you’re knowledgeable about the value of what you’re selling.  However,  the amount shown on your appraisal is not necessarily what you can expect a buyer to pay.  According to Tom Ross, a Registered Jeweler in Atlanta and owner of Ross Jewelry Company, if you look at your appraisal or receipt from a purchase, you’ll think its worth “X” amount of dollars. Not so. As a seller, you need to remember that jewelers can make the piece of jewelry or buy at wholesale two to four times less than its appraised value.  A jeweler won’t even pay you the wholesale price because, if he buys your piece, he then has to sell it and cover his overhead.  Something else to consider is how much the original markup was at the time of sale.  This could lower your re-sale price even more.

Know Where to Go
According to Ross, the best place to sell jewelry is frequently where you bought it .  The original jeweler, who can vouch for the item’s authenticity, quality and its value/appraisal, presumably likes working with old customers and hopes they’ll keep buying.  Stores will not give you cash for your piece but a “credit” or a discount toward the purchase of something else you want to purchase. They make very little on a piece of jewelry someone wants to return because they normally break apart the piece and sell it for “parts,” meaning the stone and gold separately.  Or they sell it for less than the original price.

Another option, the one most likely to get you the best value for your jewelry, is to try to sell it to someone else. If a piece is worth over $25,000 an auction house, such as Sotheby’s or Christie’s, may be your best bet.

The best time to sell your jewelry is in late summer. Brian Diener of Diener Jewelers in Washington, D.C., says merchants are getting ready for the Christmas season during the summer months. He admitted, “I might give a slightly higher price to sellers then because I am building my inventory.”

So, whenever you finally decide to sell Mom’s charm bracelet or Aunt Arlene’s brooch, just remember that the cost of owning jewelry is that you never get what you paid for it.

–Lynn Sauls and Rebecca Crews
Lynn Sauls began a rock collection when she was 5. She still loves jewelry and brilliant color.  Rebecca Crews contributed to this story. 


One thought on “Selling Grandma’s Jewels

  1. Jana says:

    Lynn knows where of she speaks. Very interesting!

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