There are many times when we come across old jewelry, whether it is inherited from grandma or just a cool find at a yard sale. Not all antique jewelry is treated the same. While some costume jewelry pieces may be worth as much, if not more than some of their fine jewelry counter parts, fine jewelry retains the value of the metal and stones they are made of. So how does one determine if a piece of jewelry is worth a small fortune or should go into the junk drawer? Here is a handy guide for yourself.
Look for hallmarks
One of the first things you can do when you find acquire a new piece of jewelry is to look for hallmarks. One hallmark will generally tell us the metal content of a piece, and the other (if there is another) will tell us either the country of origin, designer or manufacturer. There are so many different hallmarks, but the fact that your jewelry has a hallmark at all is usually a good sign. These markings are usually located on the clasp of a necklace, the inside of a ring or bracelet, or the post of an earring. Unless the item is over 100 years old or the hallmark has worn off, all fine jewelry should have some type of hallmark.
Some Hallmarks to Look Out For
Common gold hallmarks
Common platinum hallmarks
Common silver hallmarks
Some valuable fine jewelry hallmarks include: Tiffany & Co, Cartier, Tacori. Any of these hallmarks should be appraised for authenticity. Common costume jewelry hallmarks include: Sarah Coventry, AVON, & Trifari. These hallmarks indicate your jewelry is a piece of costume jewelry and is not very valuable. If your item looks antique and it doesn’t have a hallmark, get the item appraised. If your item looks new but does not have any hallmarks at all, your item is likely just costume jewelry.
Check the items weight
When determining the value of chains, the longer and heavier your gold or platinum jewelry is, generally the more valuable it is. This goes double for chains and bangles. Gold and silver are heavier metals than their fake counterparts like brass and pewter. If you find a thicker gold chain that feels much lighter than a similar gold chain you have, the chain is likely fake or hollow gold. Fake chains feel fake. Solid gold jewelry is very smooth, heavy, and consistent throughout so if you have a gold colored chain that has a darker color or even a silvery color showing through on parts that see heavy wear, this is likely a gold plated chain and not very valuable. When solid gold or platinum jewelry wears down, the part showing through should still be the same color.
Step 3: Inspect the prongs
Some higher quality costume jewelry uses prongs just like in fine jewelry, but a lot of the stones are glued into place. If you have a cameo brooch that looks like it is glued into the setting with no prongs holding it in, this is likely costume jewelry and not valuable. Fine jewelry will be very finely crafted with each stone set in an intricate bezel or prong setting, with pearls being one of the only exceptions.
Don’t be so quick to throw away costume jewelry however, some vintage costume jewelry that has a lot of brilliant stones all set with prongs can be very valuable. These pieces can sometimes be as valuable as pieces of fine jewelry. It is important to be sure the piece is vintage, in good shape, and has a lot of brightly colored clean stones all set with prongs.
If you have fine jewelry lying around in a drawer or jewelry box, you can unlock its value and get the cash you can use for your next ski trip or on an amazing Christmas your kids will talk about for years to come. Call Eliasson Capital at 1 (516) 282-7900 for an appraisal today.