Is Your Family Jewellery Valuable?

A couple of weeks ago, my aunt contacted me about some family jewellery she came across when she was decluttering. She asked if I wanted a few pieces and if I could find out how much they were worth. So, I decided to consult an expert on the subject.

Dana Westall of Amsterdam Diamond and Gem Grading Lab has over 30 years of experience. He is one of Canada’s top Graduate Gemologists (GIA) and an Accredited Appraiser (CJA), to name only two of his many qualifications. Consulting an expert is worthwhile. You don’t want to mistakenly discard a piece you think is not valuable simply because you don’t want to keep it.

Jane Veldhoven's family jewellery - gold and pearl ring, gold and pearl necklace, gold and pearl brooch

Since these pieces are not something that I would ever wear, my aunt wondered about selling them. According to Dana, the ring is 10-karat gold with a genuine pearl. It would typically have a retail value of $250 to $300. But I probably couldn’t sell it because of the outdated style. The brooch wasn’t gold, but the pearls were genuine. The retail value would be $40 to $60, but I probably couldn’t sell it for more than a few dollars at a yard sale. The necklace wasn’t gold either, but it had genuine pearls with a retail of $50 to $80. But again, it wasn’t worth that much. Because we wouldn’t get much money by selling this collection, we looked for a place to donate it. It’s not an easy task to find the right home for these pieces, so I had to do a bit of research.

Sentimental vs. Monetary Value

Ideally, if you want to sell jewellery, have a qualified gemologist provide an appraisal. The appraiser provides a document containing a complete and accurate description of the item in question. The information includes the quality and weight of gold, a description of all diamonds or gemstones, an estimated replacement value, and the appraiser’s qualifications.

Sometimes, the story behind the piece and its age can lead you to believe that it has significant value. Unfortunately, age doesn’t necessarily translate to monetary value with many of the items we have collected and inherited. That’s because there must be demand for these older items in the market.

Here is a great example. Below are pictures of two similar brooches. The brooch on the left belonged to a friend’s grandmother. She received it as a gift from someone she housecleaned for. Because there was a sentimental attachment, they were under the impression that it was quite valuable. However, Dana says it is not karat gold and the pearls and colourless stones are not genuine. On the right is a diamond and gold basket brooch (Photo provided by Duncan Parker, FGA, FCGmA, Vice President of Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctioneers).

Brooch Comparison

Duncan provided a complete description of the brooch on the right, which sold at auction for $2,750.00 (not including tax).

“Of jardinière design, with round diamond blossoms and leaves, in a textured and polished basket accented by a diamond-set handle and centre rib, mounted in 18k gold. Weight 15.4 g, Height 1 1/8 ins, width 1 1/4 ins. Approx. diamond weight 3.00 cts, G-I/SI/I2, several chipped, in good condition, can be worn as a pendant using the basket handle hoop.”

My advice is to keep any pieces you love, whether they are valuable or not. If you don’t love them and would never wear them but are having trouble letting go, consider taking a picture of the pieces. Perhaps type up the story of who owned them and where they came from and keep that along with the photo. You could also want to post the story and photo on social media and share it with friends and family. Then you might feel better about letting them go to someone who will use them.

If you have a collection of jewellery (or anything else for that matter) that you need to downsize, please get in touch with me, and I would be happy to lend a hand.

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