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How To Tell If Vintage Jewellery Is Valuable

How To Tell If Vintage Jewellery Is Valuable

If you have a few pieces of vintage jewellery that you do not wear anymore, it could be a great opportunity for you to earn some extra money. However, since the value of these types of jewellery pieces changes over the years, it is a good idea to first find out what it is worth before you offer it to an interested buyer.

Following are a few pointers on how you can find out the value of your vintage pieces.

Make sure that it is vintage

Think back to where you bought the jewellery. If it was from a corner shop or in a big shopping mall, it is more than likely not vintage. It would probably be vintage if you found it in an antique shop, at an estate sale, or at a flea market. Once you have determined where you bought it, then check the period when it was made. Anything retro, art deco or made in the mid-20th century, the 70s or 80s, falls into the category of vintage jewellery.

Bear in mind though, that vintage jewellery is at least 20 years old. If your pieces of jewellery were manufactured before 1950, they would be classed as antique jewellery, and could quite possibly be worth significantly more than you imagine!

Examine the pieces thoroughly

It is essential to examine your jewellery closely in order to determine its value, for instance:

  • Take note of the workmanship – mass production became popular in the middle of the 20th century to speed up the manufacturing process, so check the entire piece both top and underside, to see if it shows signs of being handcrafted. Remember though, that even if it is not handmade, it could still be worth a lot of money!
  • Consider the materials – the materials used in jewellery is a good way to determine whether it is antique or vintage. Vintage jewellery could contain exclusive materials like sapphires, diamonds, platinum, and gold, or it might be made from cheaper materials such as silver, amethysts, and rhinestones. Using a magnifying glass, check for any marks on the inside. You will see a stamp if the piece is made from silver, gold, or platinum. The materials used to make your piece of vintage jewellery could make a huge difference in its value!
  • Check the cut of the stones – the way the gems are cut could also indicate the era in which the piece was made. For instance, “European” and “Old Mine” cut diamonds are not manufactured these days, so check the cuts and shapes of the stones in your jewellery. If it contains these old cut gems, the value of the piece could very well be considerably higher.
  • Have a look at the clasps – a good way to check the time period of the piece is to have a look at its clasp. Clasps for pins, bracelets, necklaces, as well as the posts on earrings, changed from time to time in those days. Your necklace or bracelet could be vintage if they have ring or box clasps. It was only until the 1970s that lobster clasps became popular. Different latches, like trombone clasps and C clasps, were used for pins and brooches, which were extremely trendy in days gone by. The fasteners on your jewellery can help a lot to determine the value of the piece.
  • Consider the type of piece it is – there were considerable changes to trends and styles during the 20th century. Is your piece demure and dainty, or is it big, bold, and brightly-coloured? The general appearance of the piece could be extremely helpful in determining the time in which it was manufactured, as well as its value. During the middle of the 20th century, for instance, it was highly fashionable to wear large, brightly-coloured, and elaborate jewellery.
  • Check if the piece shows evidence of the designer – any vintage piece that has a mark of the designer, can result in the value of the piece increasing sky-high! Vintage jewellery designers like Chanel, Tiffany, Hobe, Christian Dior, Bulgari, and Cartier, are just as popular today, as they were long ago. Some of them marked their designs with their brand logo. If you find one of these marks on your vintage piece, you can rest assured that collectors will be willing to pay an enormous amount to take it off your hands!

Things to do before selling your vintage jewellery

Once you have examined your jewellery pieces thoroughly, the next step is to sell it. However, there are several things that you must do before you can approach a buyer, including:

  • Find the paperwork – it is possible that the certification for your jewellery still exists if you inherited it or bought it from an estate sale. Having the relevant authentication is also helpful in determining its value. Speak to family members, sift through old papers, scrounge through boxes in your attic, or contact the place where you bought it, but do everything you can to lay your hands on the paperwork that will authenticate your piece of vintage jewellery.
  • Find any other items that would add to its authentication – boxes, bags, or cases, are the types of things you should find and set aside for when you want to sell your jewellery, that will increase its value. For instance, if your piece came in a small turquoise box, tied with a white ribbon, then it was designed and manufactured by Tiffany, and will fetch a nice tidy sum to add to your bank balance!

Examining your vintage jewellery and tracing its paperwork and so forth might take a bit of time, but it is absolutely vital if you want to find out the true value of your pieces.

Do some research regarding your vintage jewellery

Visit trustworthy online sites offering antique and vintage jewellery valuation services where you will get the expert help you need to determine the value of your vintage pieces. Look for an antique and vintage jewellery classification guide, and then find the following:

  • Photos of clasps, latches, and markings similar to those on your pieces. Make a note of the time periods connected to the materials.
  • Look for any markings or stamps that you found on your pieces.
  • Study the sale prices online, of vintage pieces from that period, as this could give you a clue as to the value of your jewellery.

Armed with a good idea of the value of your vintage jewellery pieces, all you have to do then is to find a buyer.

How to find a buyer for your vintage jewellery

Even if you have discovered that your jewellery is worth an amazing sum of money, it is no good at all, unless you can find someone to buy it from you. You could, of course, try selling it yourself on eBay or Craigslist or an auction house, but you probably will not be successful in finding a person willing to part with the amount you have in mind.

The best way for you to find a suitable buyer, is to approach a professional, experienced vintage jewellery buyer to help you sell your pieces. He/she will more than likely examine your jewellery and offer you an evaluation. Although the jeweller will charge you a nominal rate for this service, your vintage jewellery will be sold safely and easily on your behalf, for the highest possible amount.


Image credits: Vintage Tom