While the sentimental value of jewelry may be priceless, circumstances necessitate the need to establish the monetary value of favorite pieces. A replacement value is required to purchase an insurance policy to cover loss or damage. Knowledge of current market value and desirability are also important before making an educated decision to sell jewelry.
Whether necessity or curiosity is the motivation, research is necessary to determine current market value. Gather information about the jewelry, including materials and designer for the most accurate value.
Inspect the item for markings. Gold rings and pendants often have the karat weight stamped in an inconspicuous place. Decorative pieces sometimes have a maker's mark, such as a company logo or signature of a designer. Make a note of these symbols to aid in the research process.
Identify the materials. Determine if the jewelry is fine or costume. The value of platinum or gold is determined by content and weight regardless of design. Diamonds and semi-precious stones have a going market value. Costume jewelry may have negligible value in their materials, but subjective factors such as maker and age may create value.
Assemble the pieces. If jewelry is not made of precious metals and are costume pieces, search in the jewelry box for matching pieces. If costume jewelry is collectible, the value may be increased by the presence of the rest of the set. Modern costume pendants may have matching earrings or a bracelet. Vintage costume jewelry may have been available in a corresponding necklace, bracelet, earrings, brooch and ring.
Consult an expert if you are unsure of the materials. A reputable jeweler will not charge to tell you what the stone and primary metal of your jewelry is. A jeweler can also inform you on current gold market values.
Research sale prices. If the jewelry is antique or costume, use online auction sites, live auction catalogs and jewelry websites to find the selling prices of identical pieces. Use the information gathered to guide the search process. Note that the selling price is also influenced by the trust the public has in the merchant’s expertise. Therefore, it may not be what a private party could sell the item for, but it will give a range.
Order an appraisal. For fine and semi-precious jewelry, an appraisal will assess more than monetary value. A complete dossier on the piece including quality, cut and size of stones, and karat weight of the gold is measured and documented. Current monetary value is also recorded. This is retail value or replacement value. It may be more than the price a private party can sell the jewelry for, but it is an accurate assessment of market value. While price may fluctuate over time, the assessed karat weight and content will not. It is a permanent record that can be used for researching price in the future.
Monitor material prices. The price per ounce or gram of gold fluctuates. Use the karat weight and volume of materials listed in the appraisal to determine current market value periodically.