How to Sell Your Gems and Jewelry

If you contact enough buyers, you will get a pretty good idea of what your jewelry is worth in the re-sale (or "secondary") market. You will be doing your own price research. How many buyers are enough? As a general rule, three or more is best. But who are these legitimate buyers who are willing to write a check on the spot?

Here is a partial list, roughly grouped according to type of market:

  • Scrap gold buyers
  • Second-hand dealers, including pawn and "antique” shops
  • Advertised estate dealers and a few independently owned retail jewelry stores
  • Auction houses (local, regional or international)
  • Private buyers (also called "ultimate consumers")

A few rules:

If you are sure you would never pay to have the item "appraised," you may already know that what you have isn't worth much money.

If you have absolutely no idea, first try soliciting opinions from a jeweler with whom you have done business.

Research! If you know what your item is, search completed eBay sales for similar pieces.We live in a brave new world of online data, so take full advantage of it.

Quality and quantity are the whole story in jewelry, with the former trumping the latter. Fine and small is always better than big and poor. Fine and tiny may not be better than mediocre quality and larger size, because mediocre may add up to a little more than you might think when it is big (but not so big as to be unwearable). Poor quality at any size is just what you're thinking it is.

If at all possible, own beautiful jewelry signed by famous makers or from an historical period that has a distinct style. Art Deco still rules. Age alone is not enough; in real estate, it's location, location, location, but in jewelry it's condition, condition, condition.

Transparent or translucent in gemstones is almost always worth more than opaque. This applies even to such things as jade. Intensity of color is worth more than exact hue within a given color designation (such as very slightly bluish green versus green, or very slightly purplish red versus red).

Go through no one  to sell your jewelry. Find a private buyer, on your own. If this statement makes you frown, it's not for you. Get help. (My help, if you'd like!)

Do you have any rules for selling jewelry that have worked for you? I would love to hear of them, as would others. Please contact me and I will publish and comment on them.

Antique watch fob-seal

Hard to Sell (Except as Scrap)

  • Most colored stones bought from television shopping networks
  • Fraudulent gemstones bought by U.S. military personnel overseas
  • Bridal jewelry and tennis bracelets in yellow gold
  • Most white gold bridal jewelry from the 1990's
  • Diamond ballerina rings from the 1970's and 1980's
  • Diamond "remounts," usually rings, custom-made out of older jewelry
  • Marquise diamonds