Image by Sara Schonberg via FlickrThe value of jewellery is volatile. The items that we think are valuable might only be worth very little. And other simple chains could be worth a fortune.
If you’ve ever scored a gorgeous gem at a sale or picked up a piece of jewellery you’ve randomly found, no doubt you will have been excited and wondered just what your find is worth. Here are ways to determine if your antique jewellery is worth anything.
The First Step: Have a Look for Hallmarks
Ideally one of the first things to do when you are in possession of a new piece of antique jewellery is to inspect it for hallmarks. A hallmark usually can tell you what the metal content of a piece is. If there’s another hallmark, it should be able to tell you the country of origin, the manufacturer or even the designer. You will usually find such markings on the inside of a bracelet or ring, the post of an earring or on the clasp of a necklace. All fine pieces of jewellery should have some sort of hallmark, unless it has worn off or the piece is older than 100 years.
Common Gold Hallmarks
Common Silver Hallmarks
Common Platinum Hallmarks
There are a variety of different hallmarks and you can learn more about them on antique jewellery websites. But typically the fact that your item has a hallmark will be a good sign. Cartier, Tiffany & Co and Tacori are such examples of fine jewellery hallmarks that are valuable.
Any such hallmarks can be appraised for their authenticity. Some of the more common hallmarks found on costume jewellery include AVON; Trifari and Sarah Coventry. Such hallmarks will tell you that your jewellery is costume and not particularly valuable.
If you have a piece that looks like an antique but does not sport a hallmark, it’s worth having it appraised to make sure. If the piece looks brand new and does not have a hallmark at all, it’s likely that it is a costume item.
The Second Step: Checking the Piece’s Weight
Checking your piece of jewellery’s weight is important, especially when determining the value of bangles and chains. Silver and gold tend to be heavier than metals like pewter and brass. So if you have a thicker gold chain that is considerably lighter than a similar chain that you have, it’s probable that the piece is hollow gold or fake.
Simply put, fake chains feel fake whereas solid gold items are heavy, smooth and completely consistent. For example, if you’re in possession of a gold-coloured chain that looks darker or even has a silvery hue to it, chances are it’s gold plated and not worth very much. Look for similar items on antique jewellery websites to determine your piece’s value.
When platinum and solid gold jewellery begins wearing down, the parts that show through will be the same colour. But this differs for white gold.
When trying to determine the value of your chains: the heavier and longer a platinum or gold piece is, the more it is usually worth.
The Third Step: Inspecting Prongs
Just like fine jewellery, some of the higher quality costume jewellery pieces use prongs, but many of the stones aren’t glued in place. So if you have a cameo brooch that seems like it’s glued properly into the setting and there aren’t any prongs holding it in, chances are it is a costume piece and not particularly valuable. Fine antique jewellery will be finely crafted and each stone will be set intricately in a prong or bezel setting. The only exception is pearls.
Vintage costume jewellery that consists of many brilliant stones that are all set with prongs can actually be highly valuable. Sometimes such items can be as valuable as fine pieces. But you’ll need to be sure that the piece is indeed vintage, well looked after and has many brightly coloured and clean stones that are all set with prongs.
* This post was contributed by Media Buzzer