Three Critical Factors in Buying & Selling Vintage Fine Jewelry

Like anything else, experience (and mistakes) will teach you what to look for when buying and selling anything collectible.   We all had to start somewhere in this learning cycle.  The following tips will help ensure your journey is as smooth as possible.

As any thought leader of business coach would advise: be a student of the game.  You will only be as good as you want to be.  Putting in the time and energy to cure your craft will pay of well.  Be resourceful with your research and your network.

Without further due, here we go:

Look for all the markings, including: stamps, makers mark, hallmark, etc.

Provenance is huge driver for value.  Consumer love knowing where a piece was made and by who.   Following markings in jewelry can be a treasure hunt in and of itself.  Being able to uncover the country of origin and the manufacturer locale can be a big point of value.  Many sellers don’t invest the time and effort to research the markings in jewelry.  This can be a big point of hidden value when you’re buying or selling.

A wonderful resource is which is the largest catalog of precious metal markings in jewelry and objects of art.  Be patient as it takes time to navigate this giant catalog.            

Inspect the piece for a proper evaluation of the condition.

A piece in excellent condition will always command a premium.  A vintage piece that has not been altered or repaired is relatively rare.  Being able to look for signs of damage and/or repair will help your ability to buy (or negotiate) and will assist you while presenting the jewelry to sell.   Most sellers don’t properly disclose the condition of a piece.  With this knowledge, you can set yourself apart from the competition in establishing credibility when selling.  Look for chipped or broken stones, loose hinges and joints, solder or tool marks showing signs of repair.

Use the best of your ability to identify the materials, quality of the materials and manufacturing styles.

The world of vintage jewelry is vast with materials and the techniques used to make each piece.  Although the cutting/polishing methods of stones has improved in modern jewelry, comparatively speaking, today’s jewelry is much simpler in manufacturing.  In general, much like comparing the manufacturing of today’s furniture to that of vintage furniture, vintage jewelry was made with superior craftsmanship.  Simply stated, decades ago jewelry was made in smaller batches and labor expense was less.  This translated to jewelry involving many more labor hours compared to today’s mass manufacturing environment. 

Like markings and condition, properly identifying the materials can be a notable point of negotiation when buying (especially when there are any compromises).  Conversely, with the added information you can bring to the table when selling, this can be point where value can be added to command a premium and/or establish yourself as an authority in your space.