Cathy Calhoun, owner of Calhoun Jewelers, Royersford, Pennsylvania. She is a certified gemologist appraiser and past president of the American Gem Society. CalhounJewelers.com
For whatever reason, you might have ended up with some unwanted jewelry. Perhaps you are tired of the piece…inherited something you dislike…the engagement or marriage ended…or you would just prefer the cash. Whatever your reason, here’s how to sell unwanted jewelry safely and get the best price…
First, know what you have. Estate jewelry is the jewelry industry’s fancy name for “used.” Within that category are antique jewelry (100 years or older) and period jewelry (pieces from a specific era such as Art Deco or Edwardian). Estate jewelry doesn’t have to be old. If you bought it last week, it’s preowned now, so it can be called an estate piece.
Where not to sell. Never rush to a pawn shop or “we pay cash for gold” outfit and take whatever is offered. Such businesses almost always treat your items like scrap metal, paying you only a fraction of the gold’s value based on weight. Go to one of those places only as a last resort, once you’re convinced the piece’s only value is as scrap.
Try these instead…
Jeweler: Professionals with an American Gem Society (AGS) designation follow a code of ethics that includes not ripping you off. If they can use your piece, they’ll make you an offer. Google “AGS jewelers near me” to find one. If you’re selling an item that you yourself purchased, go back to the dealer you bought it from first—he/she often will buy pieces back.
Online: Poshmark and TheRealReal will take a cut, but you’re guaranteed to get your money. Poshmark fees are simple—for sales under $15, Poshmark takes a flat commission of $2.95…for sales of $15 or more, Poshmark’s commission is 20%. With TheRealReal, you will get 65% of the sale on an unbranded piece of jewelry and 70% on a branded piece. One thing to note is that Poshmark lets you set your own price for your jewelry, but TheRealReal will have its team of experts appraise and price the piece.
Facebook Marketplace also can be effective, but it is riskier—be security-minded about where and how you make the exchange.
Private party: If a friend or family member has admired the piece, simply approaching him/her could result in a sale.
What about appraisals? Appraisals can run $150 and usually are for insuring pieces, not selling them. Take your piece to an AGS jeweler, say that you’re looking to sell, and see what he/she would give for it. That’s not an absolute value, but it’s something to weigh other quotes against.
Never take the first offer. Shop the piece around.
Appearances matter. If you’re selling online or privately, pay a jeweler $15 to $25 to clean the item. If you have the box it came in and any accompanying paperwork, show it.
Sell the legend: Especially for older pieces, tell prospective buyers a heartwarming story about its provenance.
Take good pictures: You can work wonders with a smartphone camera, a $20 light and a dark background. Be sure to show the piece from different angles.