How to Tell if Antique Jewellery is Valuable in an Estate Cleanout

Cleaning out a loved one’s home can reveal treasureshidden in old jewellery boxes, but are they really worth something? After saying goodbye, it’s not always easy separating their sentimental value from their market worth.

To the untrained eye, anything that glitters could be genuine gold, but there’s a chance it isn’t worth any more than a fancy latte.

So how do you know if you’ve stumbled upon grandma’s costume jewellery or a bonafide antique? Before you take your heirloom jewellery to an appraiser and sell your gold, you’ll want to see if they have these markers of antique precious metals and gems.

1. Weight

Anyone can check for this feature, and you won’t need any fancy measurement tools to do it. Simply hold the necklace or brooch in your hand to get a good feel for it. Compare it to any real gold you have back home to see if it has a similar weight and solidity. Genuine gold or silver pieces tend to be heavier than nickel or brass.

2. Purity Markings

Purity markings — also known as hallmarks — tell you a bit about the origins and materials used by the original jeweller. They’re stamps that certify the purity of the precious metal.

A gold ring, for example, may have a small 22K stamped on the inside of the band. This indicates the ring is 22 parts gold and 2 parts alloy, which means the ring is roughly 91% real gold.

What if you can’t see a stamp? Don’t cast aside jewellery that lacks a hallmark. Real gold wears down over time, especially if grandma wore it every day. At that point, only a real gold appraiser can tell you if it’s valuable or cheap costume jewellery.

3. Prongs

One way to determine your jewellery’s value is by looking at how the gemstones are kept in place. Generally, costume jewellery affixes fake gems with glue. Real gold or silver rings, on the other hand, use prongs or bezels to set delicate gems in place.

4. Talk to an Appraiser about Your Jewellery

If grandma had a few pieces that pass the above three tests, you might know it’s real gold or silver. But you won’t know its dollar value until you speak with a professional.

An experienced appraiser will check for the same markings listed in this guide, but they also account for condition, age, and rarity on the market. These three things can significantly impact the value of your gold or silver.

They’ll also study the “4Cs” of gemstones: cut, carat weight, clarity, and colour.

Together, these features help appraisers determine your jewellery’s true value, so you’ll want to make an appointment with a nearby gold buyer and seller. In some cases, they may even come to you to make in-house appraisals of your gold, diamonds, and silver.

Clearing out your loved one’s estate and selling their jewellery is all part of the healing process. Knowing you received a fair price for their valuable belongings brings a sense of closure, letting you get back to normal after your loss.

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