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Buying Second Hand Jewellery: Tips for Ensuring Authenticity and Value

By Maria Hickey on September 27th, 2023

For jewellery shop owners, stocking beautiful and unique pieces is key to attracting customers. While buying brand-new pieces from designers allows you to sell luxury, high-end items, acquiring second hand or vintage jewellery can also be a great way to offer your customers affordable, quality jewellery with authenticity and value. 

Before purchasing second hand jewellery, it is important to research the piece thoroughly and know the characteristics of genuine items.

Where to Buy Second Hand Jewellery

There are several places jewellery shop owners can look when buying previously owned ornaments and accessories:

  • Estate sales – Keep an eye out for estate sales in your area that are selling the jewellery collection of the previous owner. This can uncover vintage styles and classic designs.
  • Auction houses – Auction houses will often have jewellery lots available in their catalogues, allowing you to bid on pre-owned pieces. This can secure luxury items at more affordable prices.
  • Antique stores – Visiting antique and vintage stores can help you find unique, retro looks and one-of-a-kind jewellery items from past eras.
  • Online marketplaces – Websites like eBay and Etsy have individual sellers offering pre-owned jewellery, sometimes at very economical prices.
  • Pawn shops – Checking pawn shops regularly can uncover previously owned jewellery that customers have pawned for quick cash.
  • Customers – Consider buying directly from your customers. Offering to buy their pre-owned jewellery can secure items for your shop.

Evaluating Authenticity 

When buying used or second hand jewellery, evaluating authenticity is crucial to ensuring you get value for money. Here are some tips:

  • Examine markings – Authentic jewellery will be stamped or engraved with markings indicating the metal type (e.g. 14K gold) or brand name. Study these closely.
  • Assess weight – Solid metals like gold and silver will have substantial weight. Costume jewellery tends to be lighter.
  • Look at stones – Precious gems like diamonds should sparkle and refract light. Plastic and glass stones look dull.
  • Check certifications – Ask if antique and estate pieces come with certifications of authenticity from reputable appraisers.
  • Research styles – Study hallmark styles, designer signatures and period styles to spot replicas.
  • Test metals – Use a magnet on metals. Gold, silver and platinum shouldn’t react. Base metals like steel will be magnetic.

Determining Value and Price

Once you’ve verified authenticity, determining the true value and ideal resale price is important for profitability. Tips for finding the true value of jewellery include:

Research the current market value

Research the current selling prices for any designer, brand or style you are buying to align with market rates. You should look at the average sale price of similar pieces to get an idea of what’s expected.

Find out the Gem’s worth 

If stones are present, appraise them based on cut, clarity, colour and carat to gauge their value. If authenticity or value is uncertain, consider having a professional appraisal done by a reputable appraiser. Professional appraisals tend to cost money, but they provide peace of mind when selling. They can also be useful for obtaining insurance on certain pieces.

Consider the Metal value 

Consider the melt value of any gold, silver or platinum pieces based on weight and today’s spot metal prices. Again, if authenticity is uncertain, a professional appraisal can help.

Check the Condition

Check for damage like scratches, cracks and missing stones. Excellent condition means higher value, but pieces that have been repaired or altered from their original condition may still be worth something. Researching similar items on the market can help determine value.

Look out for Rarity

One of a kind pieces in obscure styles can increase desirability. Common designs may fetch less money, but still have collector’s value. Market trends and evaluation of comparable pieces can help determine a fair price.

Consider Provenance

Famous previous owners or intriguing backstories hold cachet that boosts resale prices. Acknowledging a piece’s history makes it more desirable. Documenting previous owners and verifying provenance with an appraiser may increase the item’s worth.

Keep up With Current Trends

Vintage styles gaining popularity like art deco and retro can increase value. Knowing when a trend is peaking can help determine the right time to list an item for sale. Keeping up with current trends and market fluctuations will help ensure the best returns on vintage pieces.

Caring for Second Hand Jewelry

Once your pre-owned jewellery is in your shop, proper care and cleaning will keep it looking its best:

  • Use anti-tarnish strips in display cases to prevent dulling and oxidation.
  • Clean regularly by gently scrubbing with soft cloths and warm water or jewellery cleaner.
  • Have a jeweller do professional cleanings of very dirty or tarnished antique and vintage pieces. 
  • Store jewellery individually in separate soft pouches to avoid scratching and tangling delicate chains and gems.
  • Keep jewellery in a cool, dark place like a locked safe when not on display. Heat and light can damage gems and metals.

Get Jewellery Shop Insurance From Brisco Today

Selling pre-owned and vintage jewellery can set your shop apart while providing your customers quality, luxury jewellery at more affordable prices. 

At Brisco, we provide tailored coverage options for jewellery businesses. Our jewellery shop insurance protects your business against risks like theft, property damage and loss of income. 

We make it easy to protect your livelihood so you can focus on acquiring beautiful jewellery that dazzles your customers. Get a quote today to protect your shop. 

Maria Hickey

For more than 20 years, Maria has worked in the insurance sector and has extensive underwriting and customer service expertise. Maria is an experienced Senior Underwriter with a particular specialism for shop, office and surgery related insurance.

All articles by Maria Hickey

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