Almost everyone has at least a few pieces of jewelry stashed away that they’ll never wear again, or never wore at all. The good news is that now is a great time to turn those unwanted baubles into cash. As of this publication, precious metals are at near all-time highs, and vintage and antique jewelry are very much in vogue. But what sells, and what doesn’t? Read on to find what you should be selling, and to whom.
Don’t count out costume jewelry
While you probably already know that jewelry can be categorized as either “real” or “costume,” you may not realize that some costume jewelry can be worth as much if not more than the real stuff. With so much costume jewelry out there (especially around Rhode Island, where most of it was made), not all of it is still desirable and valuable, but here are some tips to give you a sense of what buyers look for.
Today’s hot costume pieces include anything made from bakelite (an early form of plastic), sterling pieces of all kinds, signed pieces, Native American turquoise, scarabs, anything chunky or gaudy, French jet (black glass), Czechoslovakian pieces, marcasites, better rhinestone pieces, copper-enamel, coral, amber, jade, and the like. In the less desirable category are items such as strings of beads, plated base metal pieces, painted pieces, gold-filled items, simple chains, and anything even slightly damaged. These pieces usually won’t sell for much, if anything.
Selling gold and platinum
Gold and platinum pieces, even if damaged, always have value. But before just melting it all down for scrap, it’s worth your time to show your wares to an antique dealer. If your pieces are desirable, an antique dealer will always be able to pay you more than a scrap dealer or pawn shop. They will be most interested in truly antique pieces and vintage pieces in good condition that have good eye-appeal. Simple chains, monogram rings, class rings, hoop earrings and other common items are less desirable.
Gemstones, diamonds and pearls
When it comes to stones, most semi-precious stones bring only a small premium in an antique shop, and yield nothing from a scrap dealer. Tiny chips of diamonds or other precious stones bring slightly more, but not much. Only large, high-quality stones in excess of one carat will add any appreciable value to a piece of jewelry.
As for pearls, the better ones can be quite valuable while the costume ones made of synthetic material are virtually worthless. A good clue can be found by examining the clasp. Real pearls (natural or cultured) usually have solid gold or platinum clasps.
All content published here is the copyrighted property of its author on behalf of the Rhode Island Antiques Mall and may not be reproduced without permission from the company.