How to Identify Collectible Jewelry

If you’ve just inherited a jewelry collection, you’re probably wondering how much it’s worth. While not all jewelry holds value, understanding what is considered “collectible” can help you narrow down what to take to an appraiser. There are six main categories you should know when classifying collectible jewelry in Mill Valley, CA:

  • Antique: Generally, antique jewelry is any jewelry over 100 years old. You can further subcategorize these pieces as antique fine jewelry or antique costume jewelry. Both may hold value, but fine jewelry tends to command higher prices. Some jewelers consider jewelry from the 1920s and ‘30s to be “antique” too. However, the United States Customs Service strictly defines antique as 100 years and older.
  • Contemporary collectible: This term denotes jewelry made within the last 20 years, often from high-end designers like Chanel. These pieces can be both fine jewelry and costume jewelry: the key is that jewelry collectors consider them collectible and feature them alongside older pieces. Research your pieces online to determine whether they’re sought after.
  • Estate: “Estate jewelry” is a term that used to mean high-end antique pieces, but the meaning has been diluted over the years. You may see the term used to refer to anything from pieces sold as part of an estate to high-end antique jewelry with historical value. Like antique jewelry, you can find both fine and costume jewelry under the estate jewelry umbrella.
  • Mass market import: Mass market pieces tend to be costume jewelry, often originating from Asia. When new, their price point is usually under $25, and they’re made from cheaper materials. These pieces are fun to wear, but typically do not increase in value over time. (There are always exceptions, however.) You might mistake these pieces for vintage jewelry, especially if they were modeled after vintage designs.
  • Period: Period jewelry refers to fine jewelry made within the last 100 years, usually associated with a particular era or decade. It’s generally used to refer to famous designs and pieces by high-end designers like Cartier, Tiffany and more.
  • Vintage: Vintage jewelry generally tends to refer to older costume jewelry—some sellers will only call it vintage if it’s from the 1960s or earlier, while others consider anything more than 20 years old to be vintage. Even if it’s costume jewelry, it can still be valuable. Certain collectors covet pieces made from certain designers or materials.

As you comb through jewelry websites, stores and collectors’ books, you’ll start to get a better idea of how much your pieces might be worth, if anything. Although not every piece is worth significant money, that doesn’t mean they’re not worth hanging on to. After all, jewelry is meant to be worn and enjoyed.

When you need professional help classifying your collectible jewelry in Mill Valley, CA, it can be very helpful to take it to a jewelry appraiser or buyer. Companies like Collectible Coins & Jewelry are happy to evaluate your jewelry and make an offer if they’re interested. To learn more, call or stop by today.

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