Scott Bohall debunks the myths surrounding the value of old jewelry

Heirloom? Or Just Old?  

Scott Bohall debunks the myths surrounding the value of old jewelry.

Most of us have something that was passed down from a relative. Art, jewelry, watches, coins, and furniture are most common.

There’s a saying that wine gets better with time, but if the wine isn’t good to start with, age will not help much. Same goes for jewelry––just because it was Grandma’s doesn’t mean it’s good. Sentimental jewelry is one thing and should be cherished, but many people are of the mind that because it’s old, it must have value.

Appraisals should only be promoted if they’re done by someone who has credentials. Being in the jewelry business or even having a gemology degree doesn’t prepare someone for appraising estate and antique jewelry. There are only a handful of people in Arizona who’re qualified to evaluate antique jewelry, though there’re hundreds who will take your money for an appraisal.

Usually, strands of pearls need to be re-strung, diamonds need some prong work, and earrings need new backs. Taking your jewelry to someone who has training in antique restoration doesn’t have to be expensive––often it’s half the price of a quote from a mall shop where they have no training in estate or antique jewelry.

It’s very important to keep the integrity of the original methods of manufacturing to keep the value for the family. Once you blob white gold solder all over a platinum ring, it’s much like trying to remove salt from a recipe that was supposed to have sugar.

Often, we mix gold a couple of time times until we get a color match to a ring that is 50 years old or is made in Europe. Repairing a ring with a different color metal makes it stand out.

Someone who’s trained can also detect whether a stone is the original one in the setting. We recently saw a ring that was around 80 years old that the family thought was very valuable. The main stone was a blue topaz, which was not available until the ’70s, indicating that the original stone had been lost over the years. Another jeweler told them the stone was very old because the cutting was unusual. Actually, it was worth $40.

With metal prices up, as well as demand for some gems, coins, and watches, many families are selling what has been passed down. Be very careful––most buyers pay little and hope you don’t know what you have. If you have them appraised, ask the appraiser what the market should bring.

If you don’t know jewelry, know your jeweler.

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