4 Ways To Identify Your Most Valuable Estate Jewelry Pieces

It’s not uncommon for Orange, CA residents to find themselves having inherited beautiful estate or antique jewelry from a loved one. Sometimes you can even find beautiful antique jewelry at a flea market or secondhand shop. Whatever the source, many people have estate jewelry pieces that are clearly well-loved – but are they valuable?

If you’re looking to sell jewelry from your collection, you may want to know the value of the pieces so that you can determine which ones will earn you the most cash. However, getting each and every piece of jewelry appraised often just isn’t practical or possible. Before you start looking for places to sell gold jewelry in your collection, use these four tips to identify which estate jewelry pieces are the most valuable.

1. Look for Jewelry Stamps and Hallmarks

Jewelry stamps and hallmarks can almost always be found on the inside of estate jewelry pieces made with valuable precious metals. These markings will generally denote the metal content of the piece as well as the designer’s signature, manufacturer logo or country of origin.

Look on the inside of your ring or bracelet, on the clasp of your necklace, or on the post of your earring to locate the hallmark. Common stamps you’ll find include:

  • Gold: 22K, 18K, 14K, 10K, 916, 585, 375
  • Silver: 925, 800, silver, sterling
  • Platinum: 950, 900, platinum, plat

If your jewelry doesn’t have a visible stamp or hallmark, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s worthless. It’s possible the hallmark could’ve worn off from years of wear, or it simply wasn’t made with one due to specific manufacturing circumstances. If you’re in doubt, take it to Watch & Wares, the best jewelry and loan store in your area, for a professional appraisal.

2. Determine If It’s Fine or Costume Jewelry

There are two main types of designer jewelry: fine jewelry and costume jewelry. Fine jewelry is often, though not always, more delicate in design and is made with premium materials and precious stones. Costume jewelry, on the other hand, is often made with cheaper materials and is sold at a lower price point. However, if the costume jewelry is a designer brand or sought-after design, the value can be high among collectors.

Whereas fine jewelry is typically made entirely from precious metals, costume jewelry is made using a non-precious base metal such as copper, aluminum, or brass that is then plated in gold or silver. The easiest way to identify the difference is by looking for any signs of discoloration or flaking on your jewelry. If you notice a darker, silvery color under the worn-down gold, this is a sign of gold-plated jewelry. When solid gold jewelry wears down, it should remain gold through and through.

3. Identify Valuable Gemstones

Most people would correctly assume that any jewelry with gemstones is going to be valuable. However, it can be more challenging to discern which gemstones in your collection are real and which are the most valuable among those.

Older, antique gemstones are typically the most sought after because they’ve been left untreated. You can identify which gemstones in your collection are antique by paying attention to the gem’s cut. Modern cuts are precise and symmetrical, whereas older cuts are often less symmetrical and defined.

You should also note how the gemstones are set. If they’re glued onto the piece, they’re likely more cheaply made and less valuable. Fine jewelry will have diamonds held into place with an intricate setting of prongs, bezels, or channel set mountings.

4. Get an Appraisal From an Expert

Ultimately, the only way to accurately verify what your jewelry is worth is by having it appraised by a trusted professional. You can use the tips above to narrow down which jewelry in your collection is most valuable, but when in doubt, it’s best to have a professional gemologist verify the authenticity and value of any of your estate jewelry before selling. Trustworthy places to sell gold jewelry should always have a team of experts and trained gemologists that can look over your estate jewelry and offer you a no-obligation appraisal.

At Watch & Wares, we consistently offer five-star customer service, reflected in our reputation online and in the local Orange County community. As a family-run business with 30 years of experience, we place transparency, integrity and honesty at the forefront of everything we do. We have a GIA gemologist on our staff to ensure that every piece we handle is assessed properly and assigned a fair value. We want to ensure that every visit to Watch & Wares leaves you happy and confident in your selling decision. 

To find out more about our estate jewelry buying and selling services or receive a free jewelry appraisal, call us at (714) 633-2030 or fill out our online contact form today. You can also stop by our Orange, CA location Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We look forward to working with you!