How not to get ripped off when selling your diamond or gold.

Quick answer: The best way to understand the value of your fine jewelry is with a GIA grading report, also referred to as a lab report.

For gold, diamond and other jewelry, reputable online gold buyer CashforGoldUSA offers a free appraisal or start with the CashforGoldUSA online calculator. Payment within 24 hours.

Online jewelry and diamond buyer Worthy.com provides each jewelry seller with a GIA lab report, for free, and they accept jewelry valued at $1,000 or more.

Both companies have a Better Business Bureau rating of A+.

Of all the items you own in your lifetime, jewelry is often the most personal. Your prized pieces can represent a special occasion, a memory you cherish, or the love you have for another person.  

Unfortunately, sentimental value isn’t a factor when assessing how much your jewelry is worth. If you want to list jewelry or watch for sale, or you are doing estate or tax planning or getting an appraisal for insurance purposes, what you really need to know is how much money your ring, earrings, necklace, bracelet, watch or other item is worth.

Jewelry value estimator

There are quick and accurate online tools to help you understand your estate, used and antique jewelry's value.

Worthy's jewelry value estimator will give you an approximate value for your ring, necklace, earrings or other jewelry. CashforGoldUSA's gold jewelry calculator will give you an estimated value of your gold scrap, gold jewelry or other items based on the current price of gold. CashforGoldUSA pays within 24 hours.

To get an actual, accurate value of your jewelry, you need a jewelry appraisal or jewelry lab report.

What is a jewelry appraisal?

A jewelry appraisal is a statement of value that spells out the worth of your item. The person doing the appraisal — the appraiser — does a thorough inspection of your jewelry to determine the value.

Note, there is a big difference between an appraisal and a grading, also known as a lab report.

The internationally recognized laboratories at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or International Gemological Institute (IGI), will grade your diamond or other gemstone jewelry, determining the cut, color, clarity and exact size, as well as other attributes like name brand, and market value, to give you a certified lab report with detailed information about the metal, diamonds, and gemstones. The lab report will also include an estimate resale price.

An appraisal from a local jeweler, for example, may be useful in determining insurance replacement value, or helping you create an estate or tax plan, but is not useful in understanding exactly the quality, specifications and other attributes inherent to your item.

A jeweler or pawn shop, however, can easily weigh and measure your gold, silver or common gemstones stones for the purpose of scrap metal value.

How to appraise jewelry

A common concern among jewelry owners is how the jewelry appraisal actually works. You might wonder how to appraise jewelry yourself, but the process requires in-depth, scientific knowledge of gemstones and metals.

If you have an engagement ring or other diamond jewelry, and already have a lab report with specific details of the cut, color, clarity and carat of your jewelry, check out Worthy's list of recent sales to get an idea of the marketplace. Worthy accepts jewelry that is expected to sell for $1,000 or more.

If you have gold or silver jewelry, or diamonds or gemstones worth less CashforGoldUSA may be a better fit. If you know the weight of your item or coin, you can use their online calculator to get an estimate, since the value of precious metals like gold, platinum, and silver change every day. CashforGoldUSA has a A+ Better Business Bureau rating and pays within 24 hours.

Gold prices are at a 7-year high. As of , the gold price in the USA was at a near-record price of $ per ounce, or $ per gram.

 A 1-ounce gold bar is about the size of a military dog tag, and 24mm (0.95 inches) x 42mm (1.65 inches 2mm (0.08 inches). Check the latest price of gold with CashforGoldUSA's gold calculator.

You can also use Worthy's online jewelry estimator, which will help you understand the value of your diamond ring, bracelet, earrings, gold, and watches.

How to appraise jewelry yourself

Before you head to a local jeweler near you, or send your jewelry into an online jewelry buyer or gold buyer, you can do a jewelry appraisal at home to better understand the value of your item:

  • Learn whether your diamond is real
  • Understand if the gold is real
  • Educate yourself about the jewelry market. For estate and antique jewelry, understand that there are four ways to value the piece: replacement price (how much it would cost to buy the same item, in the event your piece is lost, stolen or destroyed), estate value retail (what it would sell for in a store), estate value wholesale (the price you would receive from a wholesaler or at auction, and intrinsic value (the market price of the gold, platinum, diamond or gemstones).

How to tell if a diamond is real

A real diamond will not float, shatter under extreme temperatures, or hold the fog from your breath for more than a second or two.

How to tell if gold is real

A real gold item will have a purity marking on the back or inside. This stamp is typically either a carat number, such as 18K, or 12K, in the shape of a rectangle with the corners cut off, and with a number inside. Here is the meaning of those numbers:

999 = 24 karat, 99.9% gold
990 = 22 karat, 99% gold 
916 = 22 karat, 91.6% gold 
750 = 18 karat, 75% gold 
585 = 14 karat, 58.5% gold 
375 = 9 carat, 37.5% gold

You can also test your item by holding it to a flame — if it turns black it likely is not real gold. Also, real gold will not float, turn your skin green or black, and will not respond to a magnet.

Gold prices are at a 7-year high. As of , the gold price in the USA was at a near-record price of $ per ounce, or $ per gram.

Here is more information on how to sell gold jewelry and coins for the highest price >>

Keep in mind that how you get jewelry appraised can make a big impact on the sticker price of your pieces. If you have an item that includes diamonds, finding a certified appraiser who understands how to appraise diamond jewelry is your best chance at a clear value.

How old your piece of jewelry is can also impact what it’s worth, making estate jewelry appraisals a little tricky. While some of your heirlooms could become valuable showpieces with larger price tags, others go out of style and lose their value.

Sometimes a local jeweler can help with general inquiries about how much your valuables are worth. But to know how to get jewelry appraised and sold, partnering with a reputable online jewelry buyer like Worthy can help.

Worthy is an online resource that works exclusively with GIA and the IGA to have certified gemologist appraisers complete a free appraisal and lab report of your prized possessions. There are no other online jewelry sellers that offer this free service.

I sold a diamond engagement ring on Worthy, and here is my review >>

Other leading online jewelry and diamond buyers advertise that their appraisers are GIA certified, but that is very different than sending your item to the GIA or IGA laboratory, where it will be inspected and receive a full laboratory report — for free.

To get an idea of how much your item is worth, use Worthy's free, immediate online jewelry estimator >>

Are jewelry appraisals accurate?

Insurance appraisals may serve the purpose of buying coverage for your jewelry collection, but when selling your valuables, we recommend taking extra steps to get the most detailed report about the specifications of your item. This gives you the confidence that you are getting the highest price for your diamond, gold or other jewelry — as well as providing true value for whoever buys your jewelry.

As a general rule, update your appraisal every two to three years is a good idea, as the price of gold, platinum and silver fluctuate daily, and the market value for all jewelry ebbs and flows.

In the end, the market dictates how much your item is worth. With most online jewelry sites like eBay or Etsy, just 5% of jewelry posted is actually sold. Worthy is a live, online jewelry marketplace where hundreds of vetted buyers around the world bid on your item, based on the information from the lab report from GIA or IGA — so everyone involved in the process understands exactly the quality of the item up for sale — including you!

Jewelry appraisal vs selling price: How do appraisal prices compare with actual selling prices?

It is a common mistake to confuse jewelry appraisal price and the selling price. However, a value given for insurance lists the retail replacement cost, which is very different from what you’d get in the resale market.

If you’re curious about the value, sometimes local jewelry appraisers give you an appraisal for free, which may serve as a good benchmark, but this won’t match what you’d earn if you sell your valuable — whether to a local jeweler, an online jewelry buyer, pawnshop, eBay or another source.

Some recent surveys found that you will get approximately 25-40% of the retail value of your diamond jewelry. So, for example, if you paid $5,000 for a diamond solitaire ring, it should be appraised for approximately $5,000 for replacement purposes. That same ring will sell for about $1,250 to $2,000 or less to a diamond or jewelry buyer.

Keep in mind that the most valuable — by far! — part of a ring is the center stone. If your jewelry is highly designed with many smaller stones, the retail price will be disproportionately higher than the resale price, as nearly all buyers will only resell the center stone — and the metal and smaller stones are considered scrap.

If selling your jewelry is the ultimate goal, consider Worthy.com — the largest online jewelry marketplace. Every item sold on Worthy.com is sent to the IGA or GIA where it receives a certified lab report from a certified gemologist — including an accurate resale price based on real-time market values.

Keep in mind that the sales price will be lower than the purchase price. Here is a good explanation for why that is:

How do you get jewelry appraised?

The main way most people get their jewelry appraised is through a local jeweler, who can give you a decent estimate of how much your item would get at retail value — retail value is how much that jeweler could sell your ring, gold, diamond or earrings for in his or her store. This price is different from the price the jeweler will pay you today for your valuable — which will be far less than the retail value.

A jewelry appraisal is useful for insurance purposes, estate planning and other legal matters, as well as to satisfy your own curiosity.

How do you get a jewelry appraisal for insurance purposes?

A jewelry appraisal for insurance purposes can be had at these locations:

  • A local jeweler near you.
  • A jewelry laboratory, such as GIA or IGI
  • Worthy.com provides each item mailed in a lab report (which is different than an appraisal) as well as an estimated resale price range from GIA or IGI — for free

How much does a jewelry appraisal cost?

The cost of a jewelry appraisal depends on several factors:

  1. The complexity and rarity of the jewelry. A solitaire engagement ring is easier to appraise than an elaborate brooch with a dozen rare stones.
  2. The qualifications of the appraiser may charge less than a lab report from the GIA, since the latter is recognized as the industry standard, and their laboratories are equipped with sophisticated grading equipment to ensure accurate grading. Plus, because GIA conducts huge volume of jewelry appraisals, their market resale estimates are extremely rare and based on thousands of recent sales.

If you are getting your jewelry appraised for insurance purposes from a local jeweler or appraiser, expect to pay a flat or hourly rate, based on $75 to $150 per hour. Some appraisers charge based on a percentage of the appraised value.

A GIA grading and lab report will cost about $200 for a simple diamond ring, and up.

How to appraise a ring

Like most jewelry, your engagement, wedding, diamond or other ring has both metal and gemstones in it. Typically, a jeweler or the GIA will evaluate the stone, and offer scrap metal prices for any gold or platinum setting.

Also, it is important to understand that typically, the large center stone is the only diamond in most engagement rings that counts towards the carat weight. Side stones are typically not worth more than a few hundred dollars, unless they are of high quality and of at least .3 carat each.

Here is how and why I sold my engagement ring after divorce, and what I did with the money.

How to appraise a diamond

Appraising a diamond is one of the most standardized, and scientific parts of the jewelry world. With the exception of very large or rare diamonds, a laboratory like GIA can create an objective grading report, based on these common criteria. A skilled appraiser or diamond buyer can also offer a quality estimate of the replacement value of your diamond.

How to appraise gemstones

Understand your gemstones and what they’re worth

In order to get the most money for your gemstone, you must understand what they’re worth. While there are a number of factors that will influence the value of your gemstone, the most important are the same as for diamonds: 

  • Color: What specific color or hue is your stone? The rarer and deeper the color, generally speaking, the more valuable your gemstone.
  • Clarity: The clearer your stone, the more valuable it will be.
  • Carat: The larger your gemstone, the more valuable it will be.
  • Cut: If your gemstone is processed, the specific cut and quality of cut will impact its value.

While it may be possible to reference online charts and resources to conduct some sort of assessment for yourself, in order to get an accurate picture of your gemstone’s worth you need an appraisal.

How to appraise your gemstone

You can find appraisers who specialize in appraising gemstones; many jewelers and buyers also appraise stones. The most accurate of appraisals will require laboratory testing to measure color and clarity against scientific benchmarks and recent market data. 

How much is alexandrite worth?

Alexandrite is a popular gemstone in how its color can change in different lights: blue or green in daylight, and pink or red in incandescent or candle light. As such, the value of your alexandrite is most impacted by the purity of its color, as well as how dramatic and noticeable the color change.

Other factors, such as clarity, carat size, and cut will also determine the value of your alexandrite. Low-quality alexandrite can sell for as little as $100, but high-quality stones can sell for tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How much are emeralds worth?

As mentioned above, color, clarity, carat, and cut will all determine the value of your emerald. The most important of these factors, however, is color. 

The most valuable emeralds are typically those that exhibit a vivid, saturated, dark green color. The color should be evenly distributed throughout the gem, and the gem should be fully transparent. Generally speaking, the darker the green of the emerald, the more valuable it will be. 

Emeralds sell for anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars. 

How much is a ruby worth?

As with other colored gemstones, color is one of the most important factors determining the price of your ruby. The most valuable of rubies tend to be deep red in color, and may even be a slightly purplish red. Likewise, the clearer the stone—the fewer inclusions, or impurities—the more valuable it will be. 

While darker is typically better for gemstones, if a ruby is too dark in color it may actually negatively affect the price. This is typically a concern with stones that are so dark that the color of the ruby cannot be appreciated because it absorbs too much light. On the other end of the spectrum, lighter (pink) rubies can also fetch competitive prices. 

Generally speaking, the rarer the color, the more valuable the ruby will ultimately be. The most common hues falling in the middle of the spectrum between pinks and deeper reds can sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars, with rarer and higher-quality stones selling for tens of thousands of dollars. 

How much is a sapphire worth?

The value of sapphires, like rubies and emeralds, is predominantly tied to the color of the stone. Stones that have a high degree of clarity, color intensity, and saturation will be worth more than stones of lesser quality.

While most people think of blue gemstones when they think of sapphires, the truth is that these gems can be found in a wide range of colors. Blue, pink, purple, orange, and yellow sapphires are all highly sought after. One of the rarest, and therefore most valuable, of colors is the Padparadscha sapphire, which is peach in color.

Sapphires range in price from $25 to $11,000 per carat.

How much is opal worth?

Opal is a unique stone in how it reflects light, and as such the value of opal is often tied to these unique qualities. The class (single vs. doublet vs. triplet, body tone (white vs. black opal), play of color (variety of colors reflected in light), brilliance (clarity of the stone), and internal pattern can all significantly impact the value of an opal. Rare opals can sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars — or be worth tens of dollars.

How much are pearls worth?

The value of a pearl will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Whether it is natural or cultured, with natural pearls bringing a higher price
  • Its lustre, or how well the pearl’s surface reflects light
  • Its size, with larger pearls fetching a higher price
  • Its shape, with perfectly round pearls being prized above others
  • Its color, with rare varieties carrying a higher price

Again, color plays an outsized role in the value of your pearl. The most common pearls will be a shade of white. Black, silver, and gray pearls are less common than the white ones, but are still relatively common. The rarest of pearls include those which are naturally blue, pink, green, or purple.

The most valuable pearls have high lustre, are naturally sourced, and feature a rare color.

How to appraise antique or estate jewelry

A professional appraiser does an in-depth inspection to determine the value of your rings, brooches or whatever piece(s) you take in. Usually this is done to get the “replacement value,” so you can make sure you bought enough insurance, or to help you with a tax or estate plan. If you’re looking to sell silver, gold or semiprecious gemstones, like a moonstone, tiger eye, lapiz lazuli, or an onyx, a jeweler can give you an idea of their scrap metal value. (So can a pawn shop.)

An appraisal is not the same as a “grading” (sometimes called a “lab report”). Grading takes place in a laboratory, such as the International Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the International Gemological Institute (IGI).

There a certified professional with extensive, scientific training in metals and gemstones will produce a lab report that details a gem’s size, clarity, color and cut, along with information about metals, market value, name brand and estimated resale price. Only a certified gemologist can give the correct value of your brooch, ring, necklace or other jewelry.

(Already have a lab report? Get a feel for the current market by visiting Worthy and viewing the list of recent sales.)

Even if you’re not a gemologist or professional jeweler, you can try a little appraising at home. This can give you some idea of what you have before you take your rings or necklace or other baubles to the jeweler’s or send them to an online gold or jewelry buyer.

It can also be fun – sort of like a science experiment. For example, you can breathe on the stone and then check it quickly; a real diamond will not hold the fog from your breath for more than a couple of seconds. A true diamond will also not break apart in extreme temperatures, or float if you drop it in water.

If you hold a flame next to your “gold” jewelry and it turns black, it’s probably not really gold. Ditto if your skin turns black (or green) when you wear the jewelry. Gold won’t attract a magnet or float.

Real gold should have a “purity marking,” often a carat number such as 14k or 22k. Or the purity might be shown in terms of parts per thousands, such as 585 (58.5% gold) or 999 (99.9% gold).

How to get antique or estate jewelry appraised? So glad you asked.

Antique and estate jewelry can be a little trickier, especially if the gemstones are of an older cut, such as an old mine cut diamond that is less popular than modern cuts, the condition of the item, and the style, which may affect the retail value.

There are ways to value antique or estate jewelry:

  1. Intrinsic value if your antique jewelry. What is the market rate for the weight of the scrap gold, silver and platinum, plus the market rate for any loose gemstones in the piece?
  2. Estate jewelry retail value. How much could this item sell for in a consignment, antique or jewelry store?
  3. Wholesale jewelry value. How much could you sell the item for to a wholesaler or retailer, who would then apply their markup when they put the estate jewelry to market?
  4. Replacement value. An appraisal for estate planning or insurance purposes seeks to set a value on antique jewelry that would help you replace the item were it lost or stolen.

How to sell your estate or antique jewelry for the highest price

Where can I get estate jewelry appraised for free?

Sometimes local jewelers will provide an appraisal for free, especially if you are a long-time customer, or you are in the process of trading or selling an item, or the retailer has other reasons to nurture the relationship.

Reputable online diamond and jewelry buyers and marketplaces such as Worthy.com will include a lab grading report from the IGI or GIA for 100% free. Start your process of getting your free lab report at Worthy.

CashforGoldUSA will give you an estimate right on their website, and pay within 24 hours of sending in your item (free, with an overnight mailer) and receiving an appraisal by email.

Where can I get an accurate estate jewelry appraisal near me?

Sometimes it makes sense to find a local jeweler to provide an appraisal. Again, this can work for insurance purposes, or if you want an initial quote to consider in your resale journey.

To find a reputable local jeweler for an appraisal of your antique or estate jewelry, a search on Yelp, as well as the Better Business Bureau, is a good idea. Keep in mind that you can always get a second opinion, whether through GIA or on Worthy.com in the event that you chose to sell through that site.

Where can I get a free online estate jewelry appraisal?

Reputable online diamond and jewelry buyers and marketplaces such as Worthy.com will include a lab grading report from the IGI or GIA for 100% free. If at some point in the auction process you decide not to go through with the sale, a copy of that lab report is yours to keep, with no charge at all. It is important to note that IGI and GIA are objective, third-party laboratories, not an in-house technician or jeweler at Worthy, so you can trust there is no ulterior motive to inflate or deflate the price quoted.

Also, because the Worthy auction promotes the fact that it comes with an IGI or GIA certificate, that improves the buyer trust, and increases resale value. This transparency is one of the reasons Worthy has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau — which is useful for both the buyer and the seller (you).

Before you try to sell, get a grading report (not just an appraisal)

Regardless of whether you sell to an old family friend, or one of the trusted, quality online wholesalers or marketplaces for jewelry, it is important to get a certified jewelry grading first. Jewelry is a highly scientific product, and only certified gemologists can give you an accurate report on the dimensions, quality and monetary value of your diamond, ring, jewelry or watch.

These laboratories are recognized around the world for their accurate, unbiased grading, and rely on very advanced technology to assess and price your item.

An appraisal can be done in less than an hour, and is typically used to determine the “replacement value” in insurance claims, or for tax or estate planning purposes, and is always much higher than the purchase price.

A grading is conducted in a third-party laboratory like GIA or IGI by certified professionals, and will give you a definitive determination of the cut, clarity, quality, origin and exact measurements of your diamond or other jewelry, as well as an estimated resale value.

If you are seeking resale information about your jewelry, you need a grading report. 

How to appraise Tiffany jewelry

Tiffany jewelry is known for its simple, elegant styles and high-quality materials and diamonds. For this reason, Tiffany jewelry tends to maintain a high resale value, especially if the engagement ring or other jewelry is in good condition, and a style that is currently in demand.

Tiffany & Co. does not offer appraisals, but a reputable auction house will appraise a Tiffany item, or auction site like Worthy will provide a GIA lab report on your Tiffany jewelry.

Learn more about how to sell a piece of Tiffany jewelry or engagement ring you no longer want.

How much does a jewelry appraisal cost?

Often, a local jeweler or pawn shop near you will provide an appraisal for free, especially if you are a regular customer. Keep in mind that an appraisal is often inflated above what you might pay for the same item at a jewelry store, but can be useful for insurance or tax purposes. Some jewelers will charge you an hourly or flat rate of on average $50 to $150 per hour, or a percentage of the appraised value.

For a certified laboratory report from an independent association like the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, a one-carat diamond ring will cost an average of $200, with prices varying on the size, rarity and other factors of the jewelry.

Where to get jewelry appraised for free

Most local, reputable jewelers will give you an appraisal for free. Check the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers for a recommendation. Yelp reviews can also be helpful.

For lower-end items such as gold chains and rings, and smaller jewelry, a local pawn shop can weigh your items and offer a price that may shock you — pawn shop prices reflect around 13% to the dollar of original price paid.

CashforGoldUSA is a reputable online gold, diamond and jewelry buyback site that stands above the rest, with an A+ Better Business Bureau review and Fox News recommendation for offering 3 times the buyback price of other leading jewelry sites. CashforGoldUSA pays within 24 hours.

Reliable online diamond and jewelry buyers and marketplaces like Worthy include an appraisal with a lab grading report absolutely free.

Also, because Worthy has an online auction that advertises a certificate from the IGA or GIA, potential buyers know your gold and gemstones are authentic, increasing the transparency for everyone involved, and really setting the company apart from its competitors.

How much is my jewelry worth?

You might guess that solid gold and silver jewelry is worth more than costume trinkets. Yet, many jewelry owners still wind up wondering, “Is my costume jewelry worth anything?” Some vintage costume pieces have gold plating, but is gold plated jewelry worth anything?

Typically, the answer is no. Some name-brand vintage costume jewelry may have retail value at a specialty resale shop, but you may be better off donating unused plastic and costume items to a local charity, and enjoying a tax deduction.

It’s difficult to get an answer to these questions without an appraisal. If your goal is having a general idea of your jewelry’s value, consider working with Worthy to get an estimate and then lab report from a gemologist.

At the same time, always remember the golden rule of resale: Your stuff is only worth the amount someone else is willing to pay.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't sell if you don't make a lot of money. In this post, I write about all the emotional value of selling engagement jewelry, as well as all the life-changing ways women have invested profits from jewelry sales.

After all, if you're not enjoying it, it is lost money.

Who buys jewelry near me?

No matter where you live, you can work with a reputable online jewelry, gold or diamond buyer. Both Worthy and CashforGoldUSA will send you a secure, insured mailer for free, give you a free appraisal and get you paid a fair price, quickly. Both have an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.

Sell jewelry to Worthy or sell your gold to CashforGoldUSA now.

About Emma Johnson

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, MONEY, 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.

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