Spending more time at home means organizing — and possibly uncovering baubles you no longer want. Here are five common but valuable jewelry pieces and easy tricks to discovering their worth!
Tennis Bracelet: Numbers Say It All
What it’s worth: $1,450
“A tennis bracelet — called so because pro tennis player Chris Evert once paused a game to pick up the diamond-lined gold bracelet that had fallen off her wrist — is measured by two components: gold and diamonds. When it comes to gold, karats indicate how much there is in a piece of jewelry; the more it weighs, the more valuable it is. And the higher the karats, the more yellow and pure the gold is. You’ll usually find the karats (14k, 18k, and 24k) stamped on the clasp or interior of the piece.
“For diamonds, you want to look at the four Cs: cut (the proportion, symmetry, and polish of the stone), color (or how white the stone is graded on a scale from D to Z, with D being colorless), clarity (based on the number, size and location of the diamond’s imperfections) and carats (how much the stone weighs). For example, this tennis bracelet is made of 14k gold, and the yellow color helps set off the 1 carat of small diamonds so they pop and sparkle, making imperfections in clarity or color less noticeable.” -Loryn Elizabeth Taylor, owner and designer at LEFineJewelry.com
Pearl Necklace: Color Matters
What it’s worth: $1,500
“Freshwater pearls can grow into unusual shapes and colors, and can only be created by nature, but in the 1950s, jeweler Mikimoto Kokichi created ‘cultured’ pearls by inserting mother of pearl beads into a mollusk so they would form perfectly round pearls. Today, these types of pearls are still very popular.
“When assessing their worth, you need a good light to evaluate the depth of color. You want white with slight pink overtones, like this necklace, and to be able to look into the pearl and almost see the layers underneath. Sometimes sellers dye the pearls to make them look more expensive — but it doesn’t increase their value. So pay attention to the drill hole which the pearl is thread through — it will often give away surface coatings of coloring of artificial pearls, where they chip the surface. Shape also adds value. When held up to the naked flame of a candle, you should be able to see the bead inside indicating that it’s a perfectly formed pearl, like ones in this necklace, which has uniformly round pearls about 8 to 9 mm. in size.” -Marc C. Gillings Cert-GA, co-owner of sustainable jewelry store eco925.com
Watches: Details Tell the Story
What it’s worth: $3,995
“When it comes to assessing the value of a watch, think of the 4 Ws: Who made it? When? What is on the dial? Where are the parts from? The ‘Who’ is the most important, because watches are more valuable when they’re signed by a well-known manufacturer.
The name should be clearly visible and the letters evenly spaced on the face of the watch. In counterfeit watches, the letters or numbers might be misaligned. “When it comes to vintage, a little wear and tear is expected: A watch that has lived for 30 or more years has natural aging. Take a vintage Tag Heuer Formula 1 water-resistant watch.
It’s powered by a scratch-resistant sapphire quartz driven battery and has a stainless steel case, satin pink leather strap and mother-of-pearl dial with luminous hands — all in great condition. With good materials like these, even with a little scratch here or a ding there, a watchmaker has the ability to rejuvenate the watch to make it look like new, adding even more to its value.” -Andrew Brown, CEO of WPDiamonds.com
Gemstones: Saturation Sells
What it’s worth: $10,000
“With gems, you want a deep, even color throughout. For example, ‘cornflower blue’ is the most desired sapphire tone, as is ‘pigeon’s blood’ red for rubies. Today, many gemstones are heat-treated to alter the color, which brings down their value. But in jewelry from the 1930s, like this Art Deco ring featuring square-cut sapphires, the stones weren’t touched.
It was created and signed by ring designer Oscar Heyman — it’s worth so much because they simply don’t produce these gemstones anymore.” -Stuart Hermans, vice president of VintageDiamondRing.com
Cameos: Material Is Key
What it’s worth: $1,800
“Cameos, carvings often made out of materials like shell, stone or porcelain, date back to about 3200 BC. They’re a style that has improved with time. Stone tends to age well — but it doesn’t take much to do damage to porcelain or shell. This cameo is made from a conch shell, so it’s delicate but it has stood the test of time. You can see the variation of colors, the background, the ladies’ skin, their hair — making it worth even more.” -Patti Geolat, founder of Geolat & Associates, Dallas
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.