How to sell your antique and estate jewelry

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Are you ready to sell estate jewelry you’ve inherited, but overwhelmed by the process, or suspicious of jewelers, or online sites?

Here’s everything you need to know:

How do I sell my inherited jewelry?

There are a few typical routes to selling your estate jewelry:

Sell locally 

Sell locally to a jeweler, which can be a safe way to sell, especially if you have a relationship with a jewelry store you trust. You can also sell to a pawn shop, which is quick but typically pay the least of any of the options. 

Sell at an auction 

Selling at an auction house like Sotheby’s or Christie’s is an option if your piece is very valuable and/or has a documented provenance of owner history that is compelling to potential buyers. This is a complicated process that really only is available to high-end items. 

Sell online

High-quality diamonds, branded jewelry like Cartier, Tiffany, Bulgari, as well as fine gemstones and today, because the price is so high, gold jewelry, are always sellable for a good price.

How to sell inherited estate jewelry worth < $1,000

If you expect less than $1,000, there are other quality places to sell your items and get them appraised fairly—both near you, and online.

In my jewelry box were a couple of modest gold and diamond rings that a relative had given me when I married. Bye!

I did some research and decided to try to sell the rings at CashforGoldUSA and CashforDiamondsUSA (they have the same parent company, C.J. Environmental, which has been in business for more than 20 years, and was found by a Fox News investigation to pay three-times its competitors for mail-in gold sales and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Plus, they pay within 24 hours. )

Whether you are selling a wedding ring, necklace or bracelet, the process is simple. I sold a 12-carat gold ring with small diamonds to CashforGoldUSA.com a few years ago. The process was easy:

  1. Go to CashforGoldUSA.com and request a free mailer or FedEx label, which arrives the next day, and insures your item for up to $5,000.
  2. Receive by email or phone (your choice) an appraisal for your jewelry or gold. A tracking number and insurance keeps your item secure.
  3. Accept or reject the quote. If you reject the appraisal price, your item will be returned to you, free.
  4. If you accept the quote (as I did) you receive a Paypal payment within 24 hours. Bank deposits and paper checks also available.

Try CashforGoldUSA now >>

How to sell inherited estate jewelry worth > $1,000

If you have a significant piece of jewelry or a watch that you expect to sell for more than $1,000, check out WP Diamonds. This company is nearly two decades old, has an A+ rating with the BBB, pays within 24 hours of an accepted offer, and insures each item for free up to $100,000 with Brinks. Read our WP Diamonds review >>

Related: You may want to know what to do with what you inherit from your parents — and how to understand how much their antique furniture worth, or what your grandparents’ antique china is worth.

I inherited a coin collection — now what?

How to sell inherited diamonds

Perhaps you inherited a loose diamond or other gemstone, or have an estate piece of jewelry featuring a diamond.

How do you value estate jewelry? 

To understand how much your diamond is worth, you can get a free, online estimate at WP Diamonds for your jewelry and diamonds. A local jeweler near you can offer an appraisal, which is useful for insurance replacement purposes, but not so much for a cash sale. Your local Yelp listings, or referrals from a trusted friend are a good way to find a reputable jeweler.

Jewelry retailers like Kay Jewelers, Jareds and Zales offer upgrade services, in which they will quote you a value for your jewelry, which you can then apply to a new purchase in their store. But if you are looking for cash income from selling your diamond, gold or other jewelry WP Diamonds or CashforGoldUSA are better options. Learn more about the top diamond buyers and how to work with them.

How to sell an inherited watch

If you have a vintage or antique watch — or simply a used luxury timepiece you no longer want — gather all the information you have on it, and start with one of the online marketplaces like Chrono24.com or even eBay, to understand a ballpark price you may receive.

You can take your watch to a local jeweler or watch repairer, who can give you an appraisal, which is a written statement of the estimated replacement value of your watch. Replacement value is not the same as the resale value, which will be much lower. An appraisal is useful to understand more about your timepiece, and for insurance purposes.

From there, if you understand that your watch is worth in the thousands of dollars, consider taking it to one of the big auction houses like Sothebys or Christie’s, which all have qualified watch experts on staff. 

But for the majority of timepieces, Worthy.com is our recommended watch buyer. Rated BBB A+, and insuring all items up to $100,000, with free FedEx shipping and money-back guarantee, Worthy takes a 22% commission and pays within a few business days. 

A few recent vintage and antique watches sold to Worthy:

Rolex 118238 Day Date K264407 sold at auction $10,175.

Rolex 1680 Submariner 5405484 sold at auction for $5,087.

Omega SeaMaster Aquaterra STZ005937 sold at auction for $1,791. 

Learn more about selling your watch for the most money

How to sell inherited gold bullion and coins

Often, an inherited jewelry box, safe, or safety deposit box also contains other treasures — including gold coins, bullion (bars and coins in 24K pure form), and scraps. These are valuable, and can be sold easily for market value.

This is an excellent time to sell your gold bullion, coins or even broken gold jewelry and scrap metal for cash. As of April 09, 2021, the gold resale value in the USA was at a near-record price of $1739.46 per ounce, or $61.36 per gram.

If you have gold coin bullion, gold jewelry or dental scrap check out CashforGoldUSA.com. What you need to know about CashforGoldUSA:

  • 35-year-old company that buys gold, diamonds and silver
  • A+ Better Business Bureau rating
  • Fox Business investigative report found CashforGoldUSA pays 3X its competitors (!)
  • Pays within 24 hours
  • 100% customer satisfaction guarantee
  • Insured up to $5,000
  • 10% bonus if you send in your item within 7 days.

Check out CashforGoldUSA’s online gold calculator on their homepage accurately helps you estimate how much you will get for your coin, and easy steps for sending in your item, securely, for quick payment of cash.

If you have collectible coins, a good place to start your coin sales process is by contacting a gold coin dealer near you, to get a quick quote. Yelp reviews can be useful.

You can also browse eBay to see if you can find a comparable coin, to better understand the price you can expect.

Learn more about selling gold coins, as well as how to get the best price for your gold, and how gold is valued.

Sell antique jewelry or estate jewelry: Who buys antique jewelry near me?

Traditionally, most people who were interested in selling their antique or estate jewelry went local. Perhaps they had a trusted family jeweler, or a personal referral to someone in your town who has a good reputation for buying and selling used fine jewelry at a fair price.

Starting local is a great way to start your jewelry-selling journey, but it might not be the best move to actually sell to your neighborhood jeweler. Keep in mind that pawn shops may offer quick cash, but pay just 13% of purchase price, on average.

This post will help you make the best decision.

Unsure of whether to sell your jewelry online or locally, near you? Read this.

Frequently asked questions about inherited jewelry

Antique jewelry vs. estate jewelry vs. heirloom jewelry: What’s the difference?

The world of used fine jewelry can be confusing. Here is the breakdown:

For the purposes of this post, all jewelry in reference is fine jewelry: Gold, platinum, real gemstones, including diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, as well as semi-precious stones like pearls, opals, tourmaline, coral, onyx, turquoise, amethyst,  aquamarine, beryl, citrine, garnet and jade.

Antique jewelry is at least 100 years old. So, as of this writing, an antique ring, earrings, or necklace would be made in 1919 or earlier. Antique jewelry can include items from the Georgian Era, Victorian Era, Edwardian Era, or Art Deco Era.

Vintage jewelry is at least 20 years old.

Estate jewelry is simply used jewelry — it could have been previously purchased a few months ago, or be hundreds of years old. However, reputable jeweler would always use the term “antique” when applicable — not “estate.”

Heirloom jewelry items are fine jewelry and watches that are passed on through generations — given from mother or grandmother or aunt, uncle grandfather, or father to a younger generation.

Should you sell inherited heirlooms?

Some things to consider when deciding whether to sell or keep heirloom jewelry.

Do you wear the item regularly? Does it give you joy and energy when you look at it or think about it? Yes and yes? Then keep it and keep on loving it!

Have you worn the item more than once in the past year? No? Not your style? Men’s gold chain bracelet, say? That is an asset that is actually losing value by sitting in your jewelry box, closet or safe. Sell.

When you think of or look at the ring, earrings, watch, necklace or cufflinks, how do you feel? Perhaps your relationship with the person who willed it to you was complicated or fraught, and the memories attached are less-than-great.

Maybe it is an engagement ring from a marriage that ended in divorce, or was abusive.

Maybe you adored the person, but the fact that you don’t use the jewelry makes you feel bad. In either of these cases, this jewelry is a negative force in your life — one that could become a positive one should you sell, and use the money in a meaningful way, which would honor the deceased.

Does the jewelry come from someone living? Could they use the money more than you need the jewels?

Perhaps your mom or dad gave you their beloved watch or brooch, and but now struggle with medical or financial challenges that could be relieved by selling the jewelry for the highest possible price.

Money from those items could dramatically increase their quality of life while they are alive.

Not sure what you should use the money for? This is a very personal decision, and whatever you decide is an excellent move (assuming it is not to fuel an addiction, support a militia group, or engage in illegal gambling or other untoward behavior).

Here are a few ideas:

  • College or retirement investments
  • Down payment on a new home
  • Pay off debt or otherwise pave the way for a strong financial future
  • Family vacation
  • Solo vacation
  • Girls vacation
  • Towards a beautiful piece of jewelry you will enjoy in the memory of your loved one
  • Give to a charity your loved one appreciated
  • In a meaningful hobby you enjoyed with the former jewelry owner
  • Redecorate or home remodel

Is there a market for vintage jewelry?

Vintage fine jewelry can be sold just as antique jewelry. For costume jewelry, sell your vintage items through a consignment store, eBay or Etsy — especially if it is a noted brand or an in-style design.

How do I know if my vintage jewelry is valuable?

To learn how much money your antique jewelry is worth, you can take it to a local jeweler for an appraisal, or send it to an online jewelry buyer for an estimate, lab report or quote about how much they are willing to pay for your old jewelry.

How do I know if my brooch is antique or worth money?

Again, a local or or online jeweler or professional appraiser will help you understand whether your item is antique fine jewelry, vintage, or costume jewelry.

What to do with inherited jewelry? Honor your loved one by selling estate jewelry

Recently, I was chatting with my good friend Sarah, who mentioned that she’d inherited her beloved grandmother’s large antique sapphire-and-diamond brooch.

I was surprised to hear this — after all, I’ve known Sarah for years, and see her a couple times per month.

I’ve never seen or heard about this knock-out heirloom bling!

“Oh, it is so fancy, where would I wear it — to the playground?!” she asked. We cracked up.

Even if she did wear it out for a special occasion, Sarah worried she’d lose the pin, or break its delicate gold filigree setting.

We talked about that broach over a few weeks.

Sarah felt really guilt for never wearing it — in fact, she kept it in a box in the back of her closet, in part for safekeeping, but also to keep those bad feelings out-of-sight and out-of-mind.

“My relationship with my grandma has been one of the most important in my life. And that she left me one of her few valuable possessions means so much to me,”

Sarah confessed. She looked as if she were about to cry.

That said, that pin was shrouded with bad feelings: guilt, avoidance, and shame.

She also worried her mom (the grandmother’s daughter) would be upset for selling the family heirloom.

None of those feelings had anything to do with Sarah’s actual memories of her sweet and smart grandma.

If you have antique, estate or inherited jewelry you no longer enjoy, and need the money, consider selling it.

Sarah surprised me, as when we met for a ramen lunch a few weeks later, she told me that she had sold that sapphire brooch and received more than $3,000 for it!

She told me:

“I talked to my mom about it, and I told her that having that heirloom meant a lot to me, but it ultimately was a negative in my life, and that didn’t honor Grandma.”

Sarah told her mom about honoring her grandma by selling the pin and using the proceeds to contribute to Sarah’s twin sons’ 529 college fund.

“My mom really loved that idea, since family and children were so important to Grandma, selling the brooch and using the money for the kids really touched her. She actually teared up a little.”

Sarah’s mom was worried about getting the true value for the brooch, as after the grandmother’s passing, the family had taken the pin to a local jeweler to be appraised for insurance purposes, and been suspicious of the quote.

What is the best way to sell estate jewelry?

Learn what your inherited jewelry is worth at CashforGoldUSA, and get paid within 24 hours >>

Related posts:

Where to sell your jewelry (and tips for selling jewelry online for the most cash)

Estate, will and guardianship planning for single moms

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Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.

7 Comments

I have an antique silver slave bracelet given to me 65 years ago. I can send a picture if you like. My ancestry is from the middle east, formaly Palestine.
The bracelet has a coin that says in Arabic Constantine 1300’s
I would like to know how valueable it is.
I am 80 years of age now.
Thank you
Julia Jaber

Interesting post a debt of gratitude is in order for composing it I just added your site to my top picks and will be back.

I have numerous uncut gemstones (emeralds, garnets, rubies, sapphires, citrine, aquamarine, tourmalines, amethyst, rose quartz, etc.) Many of these stones are large and I had a few cut and faceted that turned out to be over 1 Ct emeralds and rubies. I had a garnet cut and faceted and made into a birthstone ring for my Mother that a jeweler recently couldn’t measure with her instruments, but it was 12×17 which she said is definitely over a 5Ct stone. I have had these stones for over 20 years and need to sell them. I mined these stones myself out of North Carolina, USA, in 1998. Do you have any suggestions as to the best way to sell these. Where I live there isn’t a certified gemologist to give me a value on the stones.

Also do you know where one might take or find out the resale value of signed and unsigned excellent made costume jewelry and vintage items? I have some pieces I have bought from estate sales, garage sales, consignment stores, and even Goodwill and have found out later some are Dior, Givenchy Paris. Others are glass beads, quality broaches, and beautiful pearl earrings and necklaces that are at least vintage. Some seem to date back to the 40’s perhaps, but definitely the 50’s and 60’s. I plan to take them to an antique shop nearby to see if the owner can give me any insight into some of the older pieces, but I thought you may know of a way I could look up the value online for vintage items since I have vintage purses, shoes, hats, etc.

I’m disabled now and need to completely downsize and sell most everything I have since I am on Social Security Disability Income, and receive no assistance for my medications or the numerous expensive tests and surgeries I have to have. Any assistance/advice you could offer me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

I’d use the link in the story and contact Worthy about the gemstones. They work with GIA to appraise them, and will help you sell them on their auction site. The costume jewelry can be sold via Thredup.

I have 2 of my Dad’s Masonic rings, one with diamond, the other has a red stone with the Masonic symbol in the middle. No one is a Mason, so nobody can wear them. I was thinking of having myself a ring made using the diamonds in the one ring.

It just sits in my jewelry box

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