Expert Tips for Appraising Estate Jewelry

Expert Tips for Appraising Estate Jewelry

Estate jewelry is usually inherited jewelry that comes from the estate of a loved one, but it can also be purchased in estate sales. It is essentially just jewelry that was previously owned by someone else who has passed away. When people acquire estate jewelry, one of the first questions they often have is how much it is worth.

Appraisals are used to determine the value of estate jewelry, but there are things you can do yourself to give you a better idea of how much it might be worth in the current market. This guide to estate jewelry appraisal covers the key details of how values are determined and what to look for to gauge the possible sale price.

How Do You Find Out the Value of Estate Jewelry?

The first step in working out a fair price for estate jewelry is understanding what factors influence the value of a piece. Here are the primary considerations to keep in mind:


Many estate jewelry items are older period pieces that have been passed down to future generations. Generally speaking, the older the piece, the more it is worth.


Precious metals and genuine gemstones are worth more. The materials used in a piece of jewelry are the most important element when it comes to an appraisal.


The designer and manufacturer of the piece also influence how much it is worth today. Famous designers and renowned jewelry brands known for their high quality are more desirable and collectible.


Rare equals valuable in the fine jewelry world. Pieces that are hard to find or have limited production are often worth more for that fact alone. This is more true if a professional appraiser authenticates the rarity.

Market Demand

Some styles and eras are more in demand than others. If you have a piece that is more sought after by collectors, you are more likely to get a higher sale price.


Although older pieces are worth more, they need to be in good condition to achieve their full value potential. Damaged or badly worn estate jewelry is worth less, regardless of the other factors.

Tips for Self-Appraising Estate Jewelry at Home

The only way to get a true valuation for estate jewelry is to have it professionally appraised by a reputable expert, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some research at home by yourself. Whether you are looking for a rough guide before trying to sell a piece or are interested purely out of curiosity, you can use the following tips to learn more about an inherited piece.

Check and Test the Metal

Look for a hallmark on the metal. This indicates if it is real gold, platinum, or sterling silver. Cheap metals don’t have this.

Bear in mind that antique pieces that are more than 100 years old may not have a hallmark, even if they are made using precious metals. You can test the metal in other ways, but it is best to have a professional take a look to avoid damaging the piece.

Examine the Stones and How They Are Set

Jewelry that contains gemstones is often more valuable- as long as the stones are genuine and in good condition. The first step is determining what type of stone it is. Diamonds are particularly desirable, but many look-a-likes are worth much less.

Next, you should examine the size, quality (using the four Cs), and condition. It is also worth looking at the setting. Valuable stones are usually set with secure prongs, while cheaper stones are only glued.

You can learn more about certain stones through the Gemological Institute of America.

Identify the Era

Age plays a vital role in jewelry appraisals. The era of a piece can make it more desirable and collectible- and may suggest the presence of certain materials and stones. Once you know what era it is from, you can research your piece in more detail.

Look at Current Market Prices

Take a look online, in stores, and at auctions to find out how much similar pieces are selling for. Comparable sales tell you a lot about what you can realistically expect. Also, look at current precious metal prices and the retail value of any stones present.

Evaluate the Condition

Look for signs of wear or damage. Be realistic about the condition of the piece and try to factor it into your price estimation. If the damage is minor, it is worth considering a professional repair and cleaning before having it professionally appraised or advertised for sale.

When to Make a Professional Appraisal Appointment

Professional appraisal services are generally required before you can sell a piece of estate jewelry. Most collectors look for confirmation from a reputable jeweler before buying- and you are likely to get the best price when you have the full backing of an expert.

If you are serious about selling your estate jewelry, make an appraisal appointment after examining the piece at home for an expert second opinion. It may be worth working with more than one appraiser if you want extra confirmation.

Work with Expert Jewelry Appraisers at Abercrombie Jewelry

Abercrombie Jewelry is a leading expert in estate appraisals and fine jewelry sales. Contact our professional advisors to learn more about selling and buying beautiful pieces at the best prices.

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