You may want to have vintage jewelry appraisals if you own vintage jewelry, whether it is estate vintage jewelry or jewelry that has been handed down in your family. It may be important to know a given piece's value for insurance purposes.
When Should You Get a Vintage Jewelry Appraisal?
If you don't know anything about the vintage jewelry that you own, you may find clues on the jewelry that will help you decide whether you should investigate the piece further. First, check to see if the piece is marked with information that will tell you about the material of which the piece is made. You may find markings on the inside of the jewelry or on the clasp.
Pure gold is 24 karats. However, pure gold is too soft to hold shape in jewelry, so the gold is mixed with other metals. The higher the K, or karats, the more gold is included in the piece and the more valuable a piece is. Therefore, a piece of gold vintage jewelry that is marked 14K is inherently more valuable than a piece marked 10K, the age of the piece aside. If the piece includes the letters "GF," it is gold filled. "HGE" indicates a heavy gold electroplate. GF and HGE pieces are generally worth less than pieces marked in karats.
Sterling silver is usually the highest grade of silver used in jewelry and might be marked 925, 92.5, .925 or sterling. Like gold, the silver content may vary. You might, for instance, see a piece marked 800. However, if you have German silver, alpaca or nickel silver, there is no silver in the piece at all.
Now it gets interesting, because even if the piece is not made of gold or has a low silver content, your vintage jewelry may still be quite valuable. If you are lucky, you may also find a name imprinted on your jewelry. For example, you might find a piece marked "Phrygian Cap." If you turn on your computer and search "Phrygian Cap," you will find that your piece was made by Marcel Boucher & Cie between 1944 and 1949.
You have several choices now. You can go to an online auctioning house and see if anyone has bought the same piece that you have recently. Keep in mind that this value, if you can find it, will probably be lower than the appraised value.
Sometimes, local antique stores offer appraisals for nominal fees. While this type of appraisal is unofficial, it will give you an idea as to whether you should formally have your jewelry appraised for insurance reasons.
Another option is to go to an antique show that offers appraisals for small fees. You can find these through free trade magazines that are offered at antique stores. Any appraisals here would also be considered informal.
Unfortunately, not all vintage jewelry is marked as we would like. Go the informal appraisal route if you have a feeling that you have a valuable piece and see what you have.
For those interested in obtaining beauty, and sometimes history, collecting jewelry provides many rewards. From antiques to modernized pieces, jewelry makes for a wonderful collectible.