Is Your Jewelry Box an Untapped Stash of Cash?

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Like a lot of you, I’ve got a pile of accessories I don’t wear anymore. These include: a gold ring from an ex (not wearing that again…), funky feather earrings (admittedly, I got a little carried away with that trend) and more bangles than I care to count. So I decided to do a little investigating: Is it worth it to sell my unwanted accessories for cash and, if so, how can I get top dollar for them?

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Turns out, now is a good time to sell jewelry for many people. Gold prices are still hovering near record highs, fetching around $1,650 an ounce in January. Silver prices are also high at more than $30 an ounce, up more than 3% for the year. Even if you don’t have jewelry made of metals like these, you can still get top dollar for your gems, watches, and even casual or costume jewelry, experts say — you just have to know how to do it.

Well I, for one, am tempted. (Note to self: Do not use any cash I make to buy more overly trendy jewelry!) But I want to make sure I know how to do it right. So, here are four things I learned to help get the best price for old jewelry.

1. Determine what it’s worth
Do some homework about the likely value of your jewelry, so you don’t get ripped off when you go to sell it. “Use search engines, discussion boards, go to eBay where sellers are talking to each other and you can see what’s been sold at what price,” says Ina Steiner, the founder of EcommerceBytes, a news and resource site for online retailers.  For heirloom pieces, antiques or things you expect could fetch a high price, consider using an independent appraiser to determine the value, she says: “Even though this will cost you, it might actually save you money in the long run by helping you know what the piece is really worth.”  Click here to find an appraiser.  For costume and other less valuable jewelry, doing your homework on places like eBay or visiting a local consignment shop is probably your best bet for figuring out the price.

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2. Find the right venue to sell the item
There are a ton of options when it comes to selling old jewelry, including online sites like eBay or Craigslist, pawn shops or consignment shops.  No matter where you sell, you need to determine one thing first: That the site or store is trustworthy, says George Souri, CEO of UltraPawn.com, a new site where people can pawn their jewelry and other goods.

This isn’t always easy, but experts recommend searching for reviews of the company on Yelp and checking with the Better Business Bureau. If you’re going to a store or pawn shop, it’s a good idea to ask them for references, adds Steiner, so that you can hear the experiences of other customers. “If they don’t want to give them to you, that might be a bad sign,” she says. Furthermore, “if you decide to sell your jewelry to either a pawn shop or a jeweler, you will likely be offered similar amounts,” says Andrew Schrage, the founder of personal finance site MoneyCrashers.com. “Both locations look to purchase items for the least amount possible, so be sure to haggle over price and compare offers from various locations.”

He adds that you can often get more money if you sell the item online, but that it’s important to watch out for online scams (there are a number of them, especially around selling gold). Click here for ways to avoid these scams. If you’re selling online, start with reputable sites like eBay, Etsy, Ruby Lane, and Ecrater, he says.

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3. Know what’s hot — and what’s not
Just because you love the piece (ahem, neon 80s hoop earrings) doesn’t mean other people will. And that means you probably won’t be able to get as much as you’d hoped for that piece — even if it’s high quality. For example, “even though diamonds don’t tend to depreciate, the shapes in diamonds tend to trend,” says Souri. So, right now, you can get more for round diamonds than for princess and marquis cut diamonds of the same quality, which aren’t in style right now, he explains.  For watches, Rolexes are always a good bet, but lately Franck Muller, Patek Philippe and Panerai have been selling well.  Gold and silver jewelry is also a good bet right now, as prices for these metals are high.  A lot of costume jewelry is quite popular right now too, especially items from the 70s, says Steiner.  Perusing through fashion magazines or popular stores can give you an idea of what other kinds of jewelry are in right now.

4. Check out these additional resources
In researching this piece, I came across these articles, which I found particularly helpful.

 


 

 


 

 

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