Why you should (probably) sell your heirloom jewelry

sell your 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 safe keeping, 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.

Related postSell your diamond jewelry, find wellness

Selling Estate Jewelry

I told Sarah about Worthy.com, the online jewelry marketplace which I’ve done a lot of business with over the years.

They’re a great tech company that has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and has an incredible history of getting clients — mostly women! — top dollar for their engagement rings, estate and antique jewelry, watches and other jewels.

One of the reasons I’m such a fan of Worthy is that it aligns with my larger life philosophy about living simply and with intention.

As I wrote in this post about selling my own engagement ring, I believe deeply that objects have power, and how we manage objects in our lives affects our ability to live a truly abundant, happy life.

In the case of my own engagement ring, while it did represent a beautiful relationship that ended sadly, selling it for a fair price, and using those funds for something meaningful (a trip to Greece for my kids and their dad, to visit his family there), freed up a negative (and lucrative!) energy that, coincidentally, also sat in the back of my coat closet (dear burglars: my good jewelry is inside a locked 100-lb safe in that closet. TIA).

Selling unused jewelry is an act of honoring that diamond ring’s origins: a beautiful relationship that produced two gorgeous kids.

Honor your loved one by selling estate jewelry

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 on Worthy.com 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 broach 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 broach, 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.

After spending time on Worthy’s site, they both agreed that it was a no-risk venture, since ultimately, Sarah set the minimum price she was willing to sell the broach for and could turn down any offer.

She also liked that Worthy connected her with a friendly representative, Mary, who answered all her questions and didn’t pressure her.

Related post: How to sell your bracelet online for the highest price

Did you inherit estate jewelry? Should you sell it?

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-that-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.

how to sell estate jewelryDoes 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 broach, 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, engage in illegal gambling or other untoward behavior).

Here are a few ideas:

  • College or retirement investments
  • Downpayment 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

Are you ready to sell, but overwhelmed by the process, or suspicious of jewelers, or online sites?

The reason I really love Worthy.com is that that it is a true, global marketplace.

That means that unlike a local jeweler, where you get just one person ‘bidding’ on your diamond earrings, ring or pendant, you are much more likely to get a better price, because on Worthy, thousands of customers around the world are bidding on it, virtually.

Even if your local jeweler is the most honest person in the world, they are out to get the best price, just like anyone would.

The more people bidding, the better the price. Old-school capitalism working for you!

Other awesome Worthy features:

  • 100% secure shipping. You don’t have to worry about your watch, necklace or diamond getting lost, since it is insured up to $1 million and totally secure. These companies depend on online reviews and certifications, so they actually have more to lose than you do by screwing up :) Plus, they pay for all shipping.
  • GIA grading. GIA is the worldwide recognized certification for grading and valuing precious jewelry. In addition, Worthy’s chief gemologist is this really nice guy (I’ve hung out with him), Roy Albers, who used to be Vice President at Tiffany, where he oversaw all acquisitions of gemstones. Dude knows his stuff.
  • You set the minimum. Before the auction starts, you determine the minimum you are willing to accept.
  • Real-time auction. You can watch the sale as it’s happening. Fun, sometimes stressful, but honest.
  • Get paid ASAP. Worthy will Paypal your money

Ready to get your heirloom jewelry or watch appraised? Start selling now with Worthy.com:

sell estate antique watch

Some of the links in this and other posts generate a commission. I never recommend products that I don’t truly believe in. Seriously – I get asked to write about stuff all the time and turn down hard cash if I’m not feeling it.

Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.

The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.

Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.

Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.

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