Today’s topic comes from an Easy Money listener that wants to know the right way to sell jewelry
“Hi, my name is Jenny and I live in Virginia. I love what you’re doing with the Easy Money podcast and I wonder if you can do a segment on how to make the most money selling your jewelry. I’d like to know whether it’s worth paying for an appraisal and whether it’s better to sell jewelry online or in person.”
Jewelry is an asset that’s laying around a lot of homes collecting dust, when it could be collecting money, so I appreciate this question. You want to know how to make the most possible money, but you should also think about how much your time is worth and balance the two. I recommend being thorough but not obsessive.
I do recommend getting an appraisal, because you want to know the value, unless you are absolutely positive your jewelry isn’t worth much. But beware, I asked master gemologist appraiser Martin Fuller your question and he said he’s had clients come to him on numerous occasions believing something was costume jewelry, when it was actually fine jewelry! This guy was full of stories. Once a client brought him a sapphire and the old appraisal attached to it said it was worth $18,000. But the stone looked unique under his microscope, so he recommended advanced testing and it turned out to be a rare Kashmir sapphire worth about $500 thousand dollars!
Appraisals range from $150 to $350 per hour. You should choose somebody who’s a member of the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers or the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. Keep in mind the appraised price represents the retail value of the item, not the amount you can actually expect to get. Ask the appraiser if he or she can give you an idea of the resale value as well.
Once you know the value, the next thing you asked is whether to sell online or in person. I can tell you now that experts I spoke with say in person is better. I also found that to be true in an experiment I conducted when I was an investigative reporter at Good Morning America. We tried selling the same jewelry at multiple places and the local jewelry shop in New York City gave us, by far, the best offer. We sent $350 worth of gold to several online buyers and one of them only offered us $90 dollars for it, another just $66 bucks! If you do decide to sell your jewelry online, for the convenience, know this: When we rejected the companies’ offers, they always made counter offers, sometimes even doubling their money. So play the game.
A more comfortable option might be to sell via an online consignment shop. This can work in your favor, because individuals typically pay more for jewelry than professionals do. Just make sure your profit isn’t eaten up by consignment commissions. One site that stands out is called IDoNowIDon’t, named after the diamond rings it receives from broken engagements. The cool thing is that as the seller you send your jewelry to the company and the buyer also sends their money. iDoNowIDont appraises the jewelry and makes sure the money clears before completing the transaction.
All that said, selling your jewelry in person to a local shop may still be the best option. There are coin shops, consignment store, pawn shops, and jewelers. The American Gemological Society keeps a list of local jewelers who buy jewelry. No matter which type of store you choose, you should get at least three estimates —more if you’ve decided it’s worth your time and/or you own high-value items. Fuller, the master gemologist has a little trick: He says to “Tell them you are required to get at least three offers for the family,” as if someone has died or something, I guess. Jewelry industry people know that means they should put their best offer on paper. A little undercover advice and a little insider advice. Enjoy!