It’s hard to tell how valuable your jewelry might be just by looking at it. Much of its value depends on the metal and stone types, craftsmanship, age and relative scarcity. Unless you’re a jeweler yourself, you might not be able to tell which pieces are real, which pieces are fake and how valuable they are.
Here’s a basic overview of how to tell if your vintage jewelry is valuable in Mill Valley, CA:
- Look for hallmarks: Typically, all fine jewelry will have a hallmark that tells you what type of metal is used. It may also help you determine the manufacturer, designer and country of origin. For example, gold hallmarks include 18K, 14K, 10K, 750, 585 and 375. Silver often uses 925, Silver, 800 and Sterling, while platinum is usually designated by 950, PLATINUM and PLAT. If the piece is antique, the hallmark may have worn off. However, if it’s newer and there is no hallmark, it’s probably costume jewelry.
- Measure its weight: Fine jewelry made with precious metal tends to be heavier. If you’re looking at necklaces or bracelets, a real gold, silver or platinum piece will be a lot heavier than costume jewelry.
- Plating: If a piece of gold vintage jewelry is starting to wear away and show silver or copper underneath, it’s probably just gold-plated, and therefore not very valuable.
- Inspect the prongs: Prongs are the tiny pieces of metal that hold stones in place. Some fine costume jewelry uses prongs, too. The best way to tell the difference between real fine jewelry prongs and costume jewelry is to look to see if the stone was glued in. If so, that’s a good indicator it’s fake.
- Check the clasp: Clasps can tell you a lot about the piece’s age. For example, lobster clasps didn’t become popular until the 1970s. Box and ring clasps on bracelets and necklaces indicate older pieces, and brooches and pins might use trombone or C clasps.
- Look for a designer: If there’s a hallmark with the designer, or you have the original box, that might indicate how much your piece is worth. For example, Tiffany jewelry is always a safe bet.
- Track down the paperwork: Often, truly fine jewelry comes with paperwork. There are often authentication papers or appraisals, which can tell you important details such as age, value at the time of purchase, designer, seller and more.
- Research online: Once you know some of these details, you can always do research online. Look at online auction sites and other vintage jewelry shops to get an idea of how much similar pieces might sell for.
- Take it to an appraiser: Finally, you can always have your jewelry appraised. Generally, you should only do this if you’re certain it’s fine jewelry with real stones.
You never know what might be lurking in your jewelry box! To buy or sell valuable vintage jewelry in Mill Valley, CA, stop by or get in touch with Collectible Coins & Jewelry today. We look forward to assisting you!