Question from Dean in Chicago:
Dirk, I took your advice and bought a storage unit. There was a really nice box of jewelry. It looks to have some gold, silver and diamonds. I don’t know how to tell if any of it is real. Help!
Dean, congrats on scoring some jewelry – it’s great to open a little treasure chest isn’t it. Ok, second hand jewelry is almost it’s own specialty. There are many people that just trade jewelry, making a great living. I’m going to give you some tips to get the best price you can for it. First, you need a magnifying glass or loupe. You need to inspect each piece for markings. You’re looking for the amount of karat for gold or the marking sterling or 925 for silver. The higher the karat, the more pure the gold. With silver, the marking “sterling” or 925 indicates that it is .925 percent pure silver. Then you need to do some internet research on what the going price for gold and silver is, it fluctuates on a moment to moment basis. This is just so you know what you have. If it’s not marked, take a strong magnet and run it just over the piece, if it has no magnetic pull whatsoever, it’s a precious metal. If there’s some magnetic pull, it’s plated. Plated jewelry is worth much less – it’s about the artistry of the piece at that point. There are acid tests that you can buy to determine the purity of the metal but you shouldn’t need to go that far – you just want to get top dollar for it so I’ll give you some ideas how to go about that.
Take a piece that you think has some value to a pawn shop or jeweler that “buys” jewelry. In a matter of 30 seconds or less, they’ll tell you if it is real or not. They may even give you an offer but you’re not going to take their offer. They will offer you a third or less of what they think they can sell it for. You’re not a sucker so you don’t accept their offer, but now you know you have something of value. If they offer you $50 for the piece, take four photographs of the item and list the item for sale on craigslist at 4 times the pawn shop offer. If you get a call within 30 minutes from your ad, you under-priced it. Tell them you already sold it and put it away for a couple weeks and re-list it at a higher price or go pay for an appraisal of the piece. If you get a call later in the day of your ad or the next day, you probably are close to the best price you can get. If you get no calls, re-list it a week later less $50 or whatever and try again. If you don’t like selling on craigslist, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t, list the item on ebay at the pawn shop’s offer and let the auction do it’s thing.
If you have gold and silver that doesn’t have precious stones, consider trying cash4gold.com. We sent off a package of body piercings and got a check for $900 in the mail a couple weeks later. This method is not top dollar, it’s scrap value and you’re taking a chance on being swindled but it worked for us.
If you think you have real diamonds or really like selling second hand jewelry, there’s an easy way to tell if the stone is real or not. All you need is the electronic diamond detector which works surprisingly well and is less than $100. It’s a great tool in your arsenal.
I hope this helps and thanks for the question.
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