Get a fair shake when selling jewelry

  • Jewelry is displayed Feb. 2, 2017 inside Cinderelli's Consignment Boutique on Newton Street in South Hadley.

Washington Post
Thursday, August 03, 2017

If your jewelry box is a tangle of bling you no longer wear, you may be able to turn those baubles into a car payment, a vacation, a bathroom remodel – whatever you value.

To get the most out of your unwanted jewelry, you need to know what the jewelry is worth and where you should sell it. You also need to know yourself. “How much effort do you want to put into selling your jewelry?” asked Martin Fuller of Martin Fuller Appraisals in McLean, Va., who is a master gemologist and senior accredited appraiser. “It’s a balance of what your time is worth and what you might recoup selling your jewelry.”

To truly know the value of what you are selling, you should get an appraisal by a member of the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers or the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. Members of all three groups have to adhere to standards and ethics. Appraisals range from $150 to $350 per hour. To give you an idea, a simple diamond ring might take about an hour to appraise, whereas one with multiple diamonds and an elaborate setting might take more than three hours. Some appraisers charge by the item, but no appraiser should charge you a percentage of the item’s value.

Some people reason that they can skip the appraisal if they believe their jewelry isn’t worth much. If you are absolutely certain what you have is not valuable, you can go ahead and seek offers for it, but beware.

An appraiser can also tell you whether your jewelry is best sold as-is or for scrap. Some jewelry by well-known designers is more valuable intact.

Once you have your appraisal in hand, keep in mind that you are unlikely to get that price. Appraisals, often conducted for insurance purposes, determine the retail replacement cost of your jewelry, not the resale price. Ask your appraiser whether he or she can give you an estimate of resale price and the “melt” price of your piece if it is gold. Again, you are unlikely to get this price, because the buyer must factor in his own profit margin and the cost of extracting the gold. Experts say that if you can get 70 to 80 percent of the melt value for your gold, that is a fair price.

Use caution if you want to sell your jewelry online. The Better Business Bureau receives a lot of complaints about online buyers who offer lowball prices, fail to return jewelry if you reject their offer, or don’t send payment for your items.

Another option is to sell via an online consignment shop. This can work well because individuals typically pay more for jewelry than professionals do.

Selling your jewelry in person to a local shop may still be the best way to get the most money out of it. The American Gem Society provides a list of local jewelers who buy jewelry.