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How to Sell Your Fine Jewelry and Not Get Taken

How to Sell Your Fine Jewelry and Not Get Taken

In today’s economy, many people are looking for options to raise some quick cash. As a result, more and more people are selling their fine jewelry. Maybe you’ve seen the commercials about cash for gold or cash for diamonds. I can’t honestly say if these are scams, I haven’t researched them, but I can give you some tips on getting the best deal you can in your community.

Pawn Shops

Pawn shops are a good option if your looking for a short term loan and want the option of buying back your jewelry. Most pawn shops will hold the item for a specified length of time and allow you to buy back the piece at a percentage of interest over what you recieved. You also have the option to sell the piece outright which sometimes gets you a slightly higher offer. However, be aware that pawn shops give you a fraction of the value. Period. If you bought a solid gold chain for $400, you may get $75 for it depending on how heavy it is. Pawn shops – and other retail establishments – buy gold based on weight. Pieces with gemstones will have a fraction of the estimated gem value added to the offer.

Consumer Tip: Gold is bought solely based on the weight of the piece because gold is actually an alloy. As a result, the gold will need to be refined before it can be reused in jewelry. Since the retailer cannot measure the actual amount of alloy, they solve the problem by buying based on weight.

Selling the Piece

If you have particularly valuable piece of jewelry an option to consider is selling the piece outright to an establishment that sells “estate jewelry” (this is just a fancy term for pre-owned jewelry).

The first and most important step in this process is ensuring you have a recent appraisal of the piece in question. You’ll want to find an appraiser that is certified by either the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) or the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). I highly recommend finding an appraiser that is not affiliated with a jewelry store as this eliminates the possibility of them undercutting the deal in their favor. Most appraisers are ethical and any certified through either the ASA or the NAJA have signed a code of ethics but simple common sense dictates that an independent third party is the best, most objective option.

Next, armed with your appraisal find local stores that buy jewelry. Arrange to meet the buyer and shop the piece for the best offer. Keep in mind that it is unlikely any buyer will give you the full appraisal value. They need to make a profit reselling the piece so they are going to offer you less in order to mark the piece up. But, knowing the value of the piece on the market will allow you to evaluate the offers being made.

At this point, it’s a judgment call. Go with your gut and take the offer you feel is the best one. Don’t be pressured though. Chances are if they want you to make a decision on the spot it's not the best offer you could get.


Another possibility is consignment. In this scenario, you give the piece to a store, which then offers it out for sale, and you receive a percentage of the profit (not the entire sale) once the piece is sold. In my experience, it is easier to consign your diamond pieces if you are willing to sell the center stone by itself. In other words, the jeweler will remove the center stone from the setting and offer it as a loose diamond. This doesn’t mean that every jewelry store has the same the policy and it is certainly possible that you will find a store willing to resell the entire piece on consignment. Do your research and call around to find the store with the best options for you.


Finally, there is always Craigslist, eBay, Amazon Marketplace, etc. In each of these you can post an ad or auction and ask for whatever price you want. In auctions, there is usually a commission charged on the sale price so just be aware of that. Also, with a valuable piece you’ll want to limit your payment options to something more verifiable such as PayPal.

So, while I hope you never need this advice, if you do, just be smart about how you approach it. You’ll come out better in the end.


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