When it comes to selling jewelry, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at all of the options available. Do you sell to a local jewelry shop, a consignment or pawn shop, through an online marketplace, or a jewelry auction?
This final option—a jewelry auction—is something that many people don’t even consider. After all, auctions are for rich folk, right?
While some auction houses cater exclusively to the ultra-wealthy looking to buy and sell items worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, the truth is that they are much more accessible than you might think. Some will accept and list pieces of jewelry worth as little as $1,000—which would account for many engagement rings and other items.
Interested in potentially selling your jewelry through an auction? Below’s a look at some of the most well-known auction houses you might be considering, as well as our top recommendation.
- Best online jewelry auction site
- Reviews of other jewelry auctioneers
- Frequently asked questions about jewelry auctions
Best online jewelry auction site: Worthy
Worthy.com is an online auction site and platform that specifically deals with diamond jewelry that is worth at least $1,000. It’s also our #1 recommendation for a jewelry auction site. This means that for most people looking to sell jewelry like a diamond engagement ring, bracelet, earrings, necklace, or other piece of diamond jewelry, Worthy is the place to beat.
Why do we recommend Worthy above the other options listed below? For a number of reasons:
- Trust: Worthy has an A+ rating with the BBB and a score of 4.58 out of 5 stars calculated from more than 320 customer reviews.
- Audience: The only buyers allowed to participate in Worthy’s auctions are professional jewelry buyers who are willing to pay up for truly valuable pieces of jewelry.
- Control: Sellers have full control over the minimum sale price that will be listed for their item.
- Ease: Selling your item jewelry through Worthy is as easy as it gets, and you can start the whole process in a matter of minutes.
- Safety: Worthy will provide you with a free, trackable, and insured FedEx mailer to ship your jewelry to them for evaluation and eventual sale, and items are insured up to $100,000 from Lloyds of London.
- Speed: Once your item sells, you’ll be paid within 24 hours of the sale’s close.
Selling your jewelry through Worthy works like this:
- Go to Worthy.com, select the type of jewelry you are looking to sell, and click “Get started”
- Describe the piece of jewelry you are interested in selling. This will include the setting, shape, carat weight, color, clarity, and brand of your item.
- Enter your name, email address, and phone number, and you will receive an estimated price for your item.
- You’ll then be contacted by a member of Worthy’s customer service team to answer any questions you may have and to explain the process moving forward.
- If you would like to proceed, Worthy will send you a free, insured FedEx mailer to send your item to them for a formal appraisal.
- Ship the item.
- Your item will then be officially appraised and Worthy will tell you the market value that it believes your jewelry can sell for. This will typically be provided in a range of likely sales prices. As a part of the appraisal process, you will receive a free GIA certificate for your stone(s).
- If you would like to proceed with auctioning your jewelry, you will need to set a reserve (or minimum) sale price, and then your item will be listed.
- If your item sells, you’ll be paid within 24 hours of the sale.
Of course, Worthy does not accept every piece of jewelry. Typically, they will only accept diamond jewelry that is likely to sell for at least $1,000. That typically means it will have a center stone that is at least half a carat in size. If your jewelry does not contain a diamond or is worth less than $1,000, you may be better suited selling to an online metal or diamond buyer, such as CashforGoldUSA or their sister site, CashforDiamondsUSA, both of which have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Reviews of other jewelry auctioneers
Sotheby’s is one of the most famous and prestigious auction houses. In fact, when you think “auction” this is probably the one that comes to mind, alongside Christie’s. Sotheby’s focuses primarily on fine art and high-end jewelry, watches, fashion, collectibles, and even wine.
When it comes to jewelry, Sotheby’s tends to prefer designer pieces from well-known artists and creators, such as Bulgari, Cartier, Chopard, Hermes, Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels, and others. Sotheby’s boasts that it has sold 4 out of the 5 most expensive jewels ever offered at an auction, including:
- “CTF Pink Star,” a 59.60ct oval-cut Fancy Vivid Pink diamond sold in 2017 for $71.2 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.
- “Apollo & Artemis diamonds,” a 14.54ct Fancy Vivid Blue diamond and a 16ct Fancy Intense Pink diamond for $57.4 million at Sotheby’s Geneva.
While Sotheby’s is known for its extremely high-selling items, they do accept items of lower value as well. You can currently find pieces of jewelry as low as $1,620 listed on the “Buy Now” section of their site.
How selling jewelry with Sotheby’s works
To sell your jewelry with Sotheby’s, all you need to do is go to their website and click “Sell” in the navigation. You can then request a complimentary estimate online by submitting photographs of your jewelry, along with a brief description.
Within 5 to 7 business days, you will receive a free estimate on the value of your item, and it meets Sotheby’s quality standards and value threshold, the company will then offer placement in one of its scheduled auctions. These auctions take place throughout the year, both in person as well as online. If the item doesn’t meet these standards, then Sotheby’s may offer consignment placement on the “Buy Now” section of their website.
You can also request an in-person evaluation of your item by meeting with a specialist in the closest city with a Sotheby’s gallery. These include:
- New York City
- Las Vegas
- San Francisco
- Hong Kong
- Monte Carlo
If your item sells through an auction, you will be paid 45 days after the auction has closed. If you sell your item through consignment on the “Buy Now” section of their website, then you will receive payment 30 days after the buyer receives your item.
Pros of Sotheby’s
- Glamorous association and trusted name
- For truly high-value items, the venue will attract a high net worth clientele that may help push the final sale price higher
Cons of Sotheby’s
- Sotheby’s commissions are rather high: between 14.9% and 26%, depending on the final sale price of the items
- Commissions at international auction houses are typically 25%
- Sotheby’s only accepts higher-end jewelry, usually only name-brand pieces. CashforGoldUSA and Worthy both accept a wider range of jewelry.
Similar to Sotheby’s, Christie’s is a known and trusted international auction house with locations throughout the world. Christie’s sells jewelry through 26 auctions per year, as well on its website, and through private sales at its “Christie’s Salons” in London and New York. These private sale salons are simply showrooms where estate jewelry is for sale at retail prices starting at $2,000.
Some of the most famous pieces of jewelry to pass through the Christie’s auction house include:
- The Oppenheimer Blue
- Le Grand Mazarin
- The De Grisogono emerald and diamond necklace
- and more
How selling jewelry with Christie’s works
To sell your jewelry through a Christie’s auction, you will need to first navigate to their website and request an auction estimate. To request an estimate, you’ll need to describe your piece, upload up to 3 photos of your item, and upload any supporting documentation you may have.
If your item is accepted by Christie’s, they will provide a free estimate for a likely sale price of your item. A sales representative will contact you to discuss the best venue for selling your item, whether that is through a physical auction, private sale, or online event.
If your item sells during an auction, you’ll be paid 35 days after the sale of your item, so long as the buyer has made payment. If your item doesn't sell, Christie’s will contact you to discuss either relisting your item in a future auction or to coordinate your collection of the item.
Pros of Christie’s
- Christie’s is a trusted and well-known brand
- International customer base
- Free auction estimate when you submit photos online
- A Christie’s sales associate will help you decide which sales method makes most sense for your item: Auction, private, or online sale
Cons of Christie’s
- Christie’s deals almost exclusively with high-value pieces of jewelry such as antique and designer pieces.
- If Christie’s passes on your item, it will not provide a free estimate. By comparison, worthy provides a free estimate and GIAcertification regardless of whether you ultimately sell through them.
- It takes 3 to 6 weeks to receive an estimate, which is a long time to wait. You will then need to wait weeks or months to actually sell your item at auction. By comparison, you will receive an initial estimate from Worthy in a matter of minutes, and your item can be listed for auction on the site within 7 days.
- Payment takes a long time after sale: 35 days after the close of sale, compared to 24 hours with Worthy.
- You are responsible for paying for shipping and insurance, etc. of your item.
HiBid is an online auction platform that provides auction services for everything from jewelry to antiques, art, cars, electronics, real estate, and more. It is operated by parent company Auction Flex, which also operates other auction sites and brands focused on different categories. HiBid is primarily used by companies who are looking to host auctions for their goods, and is not really used by individuals looking to sell single pieces of jewelry.
How selling jewelry through HiBid works
HiBid caters to professional sellers and not individuals. If you are a professional seller looking to list a piece of jewelry for auction on the HiBid platform, you will need to navigate to their website (jewelry.hibid.com) and click on “Sell Stuff” in the menu. You will then need to provide your name, phone number, email address, location, and a brief description of the item that you are looking to sell. A HiBid auctioneer that is local to you will contact you for additional details about your item as well as to answer any questions you may have.
HiBid supports three types of internet bidding, including
- Webcast Live Bidding: Internet bidders are able to bid in real time against bidders on the auction floor. This will require someone from your company operating the platform to interact with internet bidders.
- Internet-Only Bidding: This works much like you would find on a platform like eBay.
- Internet Absentee Bidding: This allows you to take bids on your items before the auction actually begins, allowing the price to immediately start higher when the auction officially begins.
Pros of HiBid
- If you are a professional seller such as a jeweler, jewelry store, collector, importer, etc., then a platform like HiBid can make sense for you
- Variety of online bidding options gives you flexibility when running your sale.
Cons of HiBid
- HiBid is primarily focused on catering to professional sellers, so the platform is not a good choice if you are an individual looking to sell a single piece of jewelry.
- HiBid is not a particularly well-known auction brand among everyday buyers.
- HiBid is not accredited with the BBB and has a D rating with the company.
- The website and platform are not very user-friendly. This makes it difficult for both the buyer who is looking for auctions as well as the seller who is looking for information or to list their items.
Jewelry-Auctioned is an online jewelry auction site that specializes in auctioning discount jewelry and gemstones to the site’s users. The company has been in business since 2005. Only verified manufacturers and wholesalers are allowed to sell their jewelry through the website, so Jewelry-Auctioned isn’t a good choice for most individual sellers. That being said, buyers can find everything from bracelets and earrings to pearl, necklaces, pendants, rings, watches, and more on the platform.
How selling jewelry through Jewelry-Auctioned works
In order to sell on the Jewelry-Auctioned platform, you will need to be a jewelry manufacturer or wholesaler. If you are, you will need to apply to the company’s Verified Seller program and meet the following requirements:
- Must be knowledgeable and passionate about the jewelry trade and industry
- Must be able to offer competitive prices
- Provide business and professional references to prove that you own an established business
The application process is extensive, requiring multiple background checks and verification of your identity. If you are accepted, you will be placed on a 3-month probation which limits how many items you can list for sale. Probation will be lifted after 3 months of active selling as long as you have 95% positive feedback, 20 or more positive reviews, and meet other criteria.
Pros of Jewelry-Auctioned
- The stringent application process to sell on the Jewelry-Auctioned platform has ensured that the brand maintain a high sense of trust with buyers
- Commission rates are fairly low: ranging from a high of 10% on sales $1-$49 to a low of 5% on sales of $20,000 or more
Cons of Jewelry-Auctioned
- Jewelry-Auctioned only accepts items from verified wholesalers and manufacturers, which means that individuals cannot list their jewelry for sale on the platform. Worthy, on the other hand, allows anyone to submit their jewelry for auction so long as it meets their minimum $1,000 value threshold.
- The platform caters specifically to buyers of discount jewelry, which may make it more difficult to sell higher-end pieces.
Live Auctioneers review
Live Auctioneers was founded in NYC in the early 2000s. In 2002, they partnered with eBay to form eBay Live Auctions, and since then have expanded their own platform to include a website as well as Apple and Android apps that buyers can use to bid on auctions of art, jewelry, furniture, antiques, coins, collectibles, fashion, and more. Auctions take place both in person and online through the platform.
How selling jewelry through Live Auctioneers works
Live Auctioneers does not actually run any auctions itself, but instead acts as an auction platform for professional auction houses. Individuals looking to sell items such as single pieces of jewelry can apply to consign their item by navigating to the website (www.liveauctioneers.com/consignments) and filling out the form, which will include information like:
- A description of the item
- How you acquired the item (inheritance, purchase, etc)
- The category the item falls into
- A photo of the item
Your item will then be circulated among the more than 7,000 auctioneers that use the Live Auctioneers platform. If an auctioneer is interested in your item, they will contact you directly with next steps.
Pros of Live Auctioneers
- Long history and established brand
- Accredited with the BBB since 2015 with an A+ rating
- Network of more than 7,000 auctioneers
- 13 million active bidders on the platform ensure you’re getting your item in front of a wide audience
Cons of Live Auctioneers
- You will only be contacted about your item if an auctioneer in the network is interested. Each auctioneer has their own standards and requirements.
- Estimates are not included as a part of the consignment process. By comparison, when you submit a piece of jewelry to Worthy you will receive a complimentary estimate as well as a GIA lab report for your diamonds.
Property Room review
Property Room is an online auction site and platform where buyers can bid on and purchase abandoned, seized, stolen, or surplus goods like cars, jewelry, watches, and more. The company was started in 1999.
Though the platform was originally just a place for law enforcement agencies to auction the items in their property and evidence room (where the site’s name comes from) it has since expanded to include partnerships with fire departments, parks, airports, and municipalities—totaling more than 4,000 total partnerships. Today, the site also allows certain select stores to list items, particularly during liquidations.
How selling jewelry through Property Room works
Currently, individuals can’t list their own items for auction or sale on Property Room. The platform is only available for law enforcement and municipal offices, and select retailers. Those interested in partnering with the site can navigate to the website (propertyroom.com) and click “Earn with Property Room” in order to submit an application, which will ask for:
- Your name and title
- The agency or organization name
- City and state
- Phone number and email address
- How many officers in your agency (if applicable)
- And the specific category of items you are looking to auction (property and evidence, firearms, vehicles)
You will be contacted by a Property Room associate within a week of submitting the application.
Pros of Property Room
- Makes it easier for law enforcement agencies, fire departments, parks departments, and municipalities to auction lost, seized, abandoned, or stolen property
- Connects sellers with millions of bidders around the country
Cons of Property Room
- The platform is not accessible to individual sellers looking to auction off their personal property, whether jewelry or other items
- In many cases, property is seized from criminals, a concept that some buyers may not be comfortable with
Frequently asked questions about jewelry auctions
Are jewelry auctions real?
The short answer is: Yes, jewelry auctions are just as real as any other kind of auction. That being said, while they don’t happen very often, auction scams are possible.
On the buying side of the equation, items may be misrepresented, which is typically only a concern with online auctions where you cannot view the whole item for sale. Additionally, it’s possible for prices to be inflated by fake bids. On the selling side, there are fewer risks.
This is why choosing the right auction house or auction site is so important. Reputable auction houses will have protections in place for both the buyer and the seller, and these protections should instill confidence in the entire process.
What is the best auction site for jewelry?
In most cases, Worthy.com stands out as the best online auction platform for jewelry, for a number of reasons.
Worthy has a transparent process, excellent reputation, and great customer service. It’s also very easy to get a quote and send your item for auctioning. Worthy only sells to a network of professional buyers, who the site notes are more likely to bid higher amounts for high-quality jewelry than the kind of buyers you might find on sites like eBay or elsewhere.
Of course, if you have an extremely valuable piece of jewelry, like a $4 million diamond tiara, you might be better served going with Christie’s or Sotheby’s, with their posh clientele. But in most cases, for an average engagement ring worth at least $1,000, Worthy will be hard to beat.
What’s the difference in price between a jewelry auction and selling direct to a jewelry buyer?
The primary difference lies in the mechanics of how the sale works.
When you sell to a jewelry buyer, you are selling your item to a single buyer. This means that it’s up to you to ensure that you are getting the best possible price for your item. Usually, this will involve comparison selling, where you will need to seek out offers from a number of different buyers.
When you sell through an auction, you are selling to multiple buyers. This ensures that when the item finally does sell, it goes to the individual who is willing to pay the highest price. The auction process itself can also drive the price higher than you might have gotten through a one-on-one sale, especially in cases where you’ve got a really valuable or in-demand item.
Physically shopping your diamond to the local jewelry stores near you, or a site like WP Diamonds that offers one price based on a single person’s opinion of its value, is becoming a thing of the past. As traditional ways of doing business are disrupted both locally and globally, Worthy, like Airbnb, Seamless and Grubhub, is solving everyday problems via a jewelry auction, also called a marketplace.
Having created the only consumer-to-business model that uses a virtual online auction, Worthy helps people resell their jewelry to a platform of thousands of vetted buyers.
Worthy virtually brings multiple buyers (all professional wholesalers, dealers, and jewelers) from around the country directly to a seller. Worthy’s marketplace is accessible to buyers via mobile, desktop, with auctions running daily, every day of the year. Worthy never purchases the item, but rather acts as the facilitator — just like you never buy an item directly from eBay, but use the eBay platform to buy and sell goods.
When you work with Worthy, your item secures offers from many buyers, who will compete for your diamond. So, when you are searching for diamond buyers or jewelers near you, know that Worthy brings the market to you, no matter where you are.