By Julian Chase
Over the years I have seen some very extensive personal jewelry collections. One memorable collection began with a child’s sterling silver ring, and ended with a 12 carat diamond tennis bracelet given as a 60th anniversary gift. As you can imagine, there were a lot of items sandwiched between those two special pieces.
Many collections may not be as comprehensive as the one mentioned above. However, when it comes to estate planning, insurance valuation, or asset analysis, it is critical to know certain things about your collection.
As you open your jewelry box and look at all of the pieces you have been given, or collected over the years, you may wonder “what is all of this really worth?” The key to determining the answer to that question starts with understanding where the value in your collection is.
Here’s what to look for:
Larger Single Diamonds
A ring with one large stone weighing 1.5 carats is going to be much more valuable than a ring with 1.5 carats in very small stones. Very simply put, diamonds of the same quality become more valuable at larger sizes, and the price difference can be drastic. A cluster of small stones, while pretty, won’t hold value the way a single larger stone will.
Let’s imagine we have two similar necklaces, each with a diamond encrusted heart attached. One of them is valued at five times the value of the other. Why? The more valuable piece happens to be a signed Tiffany & Company piece. Some brands hold value and some do not. Some of the strongest jewelry brands in the world would be Rolex, Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Harry Winston, to name a few. Signed pieces by important designers or brands have more rarity and are worth much more than their nondescript counterparts. A sad truth is that if it was purchased through a chain store at a mall, it probably won’t be worth much more than the value of the intrinsic components: diamonds and precious metals.
The fashions, at least in the jewelry industry, of the 70’s & 80’s were dubious at best. When looking at a piece of jewelry from the seventies always imagine the clothes you wore with the jewelry. Would you be caught dead in that paisley pantsuit, or those 5” platform shoes? It is pretty much the same with jewelry, and you can use this formula with jewelry from any decade. Some pieces are timeless. A diamond solitaire ring, stud earrings, or a diamond tennis bracelet will always be sought after, but many fashion pieces from years ago just aren’t considered desirable anymore. That said, every period produces important pieces and there is always a small market for retro jewelry. True antique pieces are highly sought after. Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Edwardian, and Victorian era pieces are desired by collectors as well as style conscious consumers.
Most jewelry is made from precious materials. Some jewelry while it may not meet any of the above requirements can still be quite valuable just from an intrinsic standpoint. Heavy solid gold or platinum pieces, rare gemstones, and large or high quality diamonds will always be valuable, regardless of the aesthetics of the piece or who produced it. And even if you don’t have any large or “important” pieces, every little scrap of precious metal adds to the value of your collection.
While the above information will certainly help you when evaluating your collection, nothing is better than having some trustworthy, professional assistance. Your jewelry is one of your most precious hard assets, and it is well worth the time to have it professionally evaluated.