Friday, March 8, 2013

Jewelry Trash or Treasure?

My specialty at our auction house is jewelry. Jewelry is my passion and has been since I was a little girl. One of my favorite things to do is sort clients jewelry.  Last year at a client’s house I found assorted 14K gold jewelry mixed in with their mom’s cheap costume jewelry. The jewelry sold for almost a thousand dollars at auction. Treasure from a box that was headed to the Salvation Army.  Another client was shocked when I told her that the cheap silver ring that she bought at a flea market twenty years earlier was actually real platinum, diamonds and rubies. The ring she paid less than $10 dollars for had an insurance replacement  value of  $1,500 to $2,500 dollars. 

Here are some of my secret jewelry detecting tips for you.   

Consider the source. If you have a gold colored charm bracelet that you bought from a department store for under $100.00. Chances are 100% that it’s not going to be real gold. On the other hand if rich Aunt Beatrix presents you with a similar style charm bracelet in a light blue box labeled Tiffany’s than you can bet your life its gold. Unless she’s like my husband’s Granny who used to put gifts in Tiffany boxes just to mess with people. Oh how I miss her.
Which brings us to our second tip.  

Look for Clues. If the piece of jewelry is less than 100 years old it will be marked. If it’s not marked and you think it may be older than 100 years old bring it to a professional.

MARKS Look inside the band, on the back, and on the clasp. The marks are your best clues.  

American Standard Gold marks: 22K 18K 14K 10K

Not Gold Marks:

 18KGE. Electroplated not real gold. If it ends in GE It’s not 18K gold.
14KG.F. If your gold mark ends with G.F. it’s gold filled. Not real gold.
1/20 12K. or 1/10 10K.  If your piece says either of these it has a tiny insignificant layer of gold over the base metal. So sorry a little better, but still not real gold.
14KRPG. Means Rolled Gold Plate. Better but no not real.
14K over sterling. Just means they put an insignificant layer of gold over sterling. Not gold. But real silver.

No matter how much the Home Shopping Network and retailers try to make these fakes seem like the real thing they’re still fake. It doesn't matter if they claim the item is ”genuine” Electroplate or they claim the  “original” sticker price is $500.00 but, 75% off the markdown price. Ignore them and look at the clues. They can say whatever they want, but legally the jewelry has to be marked and if retail jewelry isn't marked it's always going to be fake. Look at this sterling silver ring with a simulated ruby below advertised as being 80% off. In my opinion even at $69.00 the store is making a 50% profit. The inflated retail price is insane.

Outlet Price : $69.95 
Was: $235.00
Retail: $350.00
Save $280.05 (80%) Off Suggested Retail!
More clues.

Does the piece make sense? Now you are savvy and you know that the metal of your ring is 14KG.F. How can you tell if the clear stones are diamonds? Consider the size. If the diamonds are the size of  grains of sand I would assume that possibly they could be real diamonds. If the stones are the size of peas I would assume their is a  100% chance that the stones are simulated.  

Use Common Sense.  Think like a jeweler. If you have an expensive high quality stone you would set that stone in equally fine quality metal right? If the stones and the metal are high quality you would want them sold in a high end jewelry store for a high price. Therefore the best fine jewelry will be set in higher karats of gold and sell for high prices.  Semiprecious or less quality stones are usually set in 10K gold or gold or gold alternatives and more affordable.

Also If the piece is handmade by a jewelry designer it will be signed and be worth a lot more than a piece massed produced by machine. Please tell me that you all know enough never ever to buy jewelry at a mall or from a chain jewelry store right? Oh there is so much to learn. 

That’s all I have time for today. Before you get started a few quick rules.
All of these rules can be broken. That’s why jewelry is so hard to identify and we professionals rely on chemicals and gem testers that can identify unidentified materials. If you want to be 100% sure if your jewelry is worth big money, always go to a reputable professional. If you live in MA, RI, or parts of NH, and CT, I can help you or recommend someone.
Costume jewelry can be worth just as much as the real stuff.
Antique jewelry is like clothes. It goes in and out of style. Your pieces go up and down in worth every 6 months.

Now sort through that jewelry!


No comments:

Post a Comment