As a young officer in the Navy, I followed engagement ring tradition and scrimped and saved three months’ worth of Ensign pay to buy a brand new ring for my future bride. Had I known then what I know now about estate jewelry, I could have either saved quite a bit on the ring I was after or would have been able to get a lot more bang for my buck with my full budget.
Estate jewelry is simply another term for “pre-owned” jewelry. It may be antique (crafted over 100 years ago) or as recent as a few months old, if the piece happens to be from a broken engagement or divorce. And depending where and how you shop, you can save a significant amount over the retail price of what you seek.
Two favorite buying venues of jewelry deal seekers are estate sales and auctions. Estate sales are typically held at the home of the owner may include the sale of fine jewelry amongst home décor, art, clothing, and other household objects. Jewelry sold at estate sales should be listed at a fixed price that is competitive to similar pieces in the market or online. The greatest selection of pieces is available during the first day of the sale, when everything is listed at full price. You may be fortunate to get a discount on pieces if they are still available on the second or third day of the sale.
Auctions are another great way to get super deals on estate jewelry. Whether you buy locally or online, be sure to set a budget for yourself and factor in any additional fees and taxes beforehand so that you don’t end-up overpaying for pieces that can be found elsewhere. Some of the most expensive and desirable estate jewelry is sold via auction, so it’s a great way to find a variety of high quality and designer pieces at wholesale prices.
Last but not least, do your homework before and after you buy estate jewelry. Be sure to inspect anything you plan to purchase beforehand, looking for signs of damage, repair, or missing stones, which should be factored into the price. A jeweler’s loupe with a 30x to 60x magnification can be purchased for a mere $10-$15 online and is a great tool to have for examining jewelry.
You’ll want to ensure that you’re purchasing from a reputable seller with a fair return policy, should you encounter unexpected problems with the authenticity or quality of the piece after purchase. Additionally, any valuable jewelry should have an appraisal performed by a certified independent appraiser, who can provide a more rigorous evaluation of a piece than what is oftentimes provided by a staff appraiser.