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Appraising Antique Jewelry: What Jewelers Look For

Posted by Grogan Jewelers By Lon on Apr 23, 2018 2:33:00 PM

In antique jewelry

If you’ve inherited a piece of antique jewelry or found a beautiful piece at an estate sale, it’s worth getting it appraised. An appraisal is an estimation of how much a piece of jewelry is worth based on the opinions of an expert in the trade.

These appraisal numbers aren’t just used for buying and selling. They can also be used for buying the proper amount of insurance for the piece, or for determining how valuable a piece is for a property settlement in a divorce.

Jewelry appraisal can get a little complicated because there are different ways of measuring the value of a piece. You can measure it as an antique for the collector’s market, or as materials for the jewelry market.

As An Antique

Condition, rarity, and market demand are the key factors in determining the value of an antique. Thus, an appraisal based on a piece’s antiquity can be much different than you expect. Even a piece that’s encrusted with jewels may be worth less than you expected because it’s too gaudy for current tastes or it’s a more common piece than expected. An appraiser will also measure the condition of the piece to ensure that it’s still safe to wear. Antique fittings may have gotten loose over time and that could make the stones fall out.

It can be a big disappointment to get a low appraisal value, but all is not lost! You can raise the value of an antique by using its materials to create an entirely new piece. This is a common way to keep inherited jewelry in the family while making it something you’ll use, and a great way to recycle pieces that are too damaged to wear safely.

As Materials

In addition to the artistry of the piece, the gems and metals in the piece have their own value according to market prices. To measure the intrinsic worth of the gemstones, you need to take the piece to a certified gemologist so they can be appraised on their own. Grogan Jewelers does have certified gemologists on staff for this kind of appraisal.

This kind of appraisal is done most often by people who regularly buy and sell antique jewelry. Knowing the value of the base materials allows them to set the right terms for negotiation with other buyers and sellers. It is also done for insurance purposes.

This kind of appraisal may require disassembly of the piece, which in rare cases may reduce its value as an antique if old settings get damaged in the removal process. Depending on the condition of the piece, this may be unavoidable.

What the gemologists will look for is the cut, color, carat, and clarity of the stones, as you can read about in our previous pieces on these topics. These are the qualities that set the market value of the stones.

It’s exciting to get antique jewelry appraised. You might have something very rare that could boost the value of the piece far beyond what the price of the materials are. And even if your antique ends up to be too common to be worth much on that market, you can reuse the materials to create something that’s worth a lot on the jewelry market. If you have a piece that you’re curious about, take it to Grogan Jewelers for an appraisal. We’ll be glad to examine it. If any of your antique jewelry needs to be repaired or restored, we will be glad to help you as well.