No matter how you got your collection of gold jewelry — pawn shops, secondhand stores, estate sales, a family inheritance — there's a good chance you have a question or two in the back of your mind about how much these pieces might be worth.
While there's no guarantee that your old gold jewelry is worth much of anything, there is a chance that you've been sitting on an old, unused item worth quite a bit of money. So if you're wondering what a few signs are that signify that your gold jewelry might be worth its weight in gold, here's what you need to know.
Minimal (or No) Damage
Unlike silver, platinum, or steel, gold is a relatively soft metal — and that can lead to countless dings, scratches, and other marks that can mar the surface of your gold jewelry and, consequently, make it worth a bit less. When pricing gold jewelry, the pieces with the least damage will be worth the most, every time.
If your piece of gold jewelry in question is set with gemstones, that can automatically raise its asking price — that is, if the gems are real. Look for signs of fake gemstones; if the "diamond" is chipped or cracked (or fogs up when you breathe on it), it's probably CZ or another diamond look-alike. Other gemstones will also have tell-tale signs, such as visible air pockets or seams.
But what if the gemstone is just colored glass and not worth anything? When in doubt, clean the piece and then use your tongue; because of their higher thermal conductivity, real gemstones stay cool for much longer than glass ones do when exposed to body heat.
Jewelry by some brands is worth much more than a similar piece designed and created by a no-name shop, so check your jewelry carefully for brand markings.
Is it in a box labeling it as a product by Tiffany's, Cartier, or Van Cleef & Arpels? Is it stamped with date and location, like some jewelry from the UK is? Does it have the signature eagle's head stamped on it, indicating that the piece hails from France?
All of these markings are an indication of the value of the jewelry and are a key part of determining a piece's overall price. Make sure to ask your family about inherited pieces; a relative might remember when and where the piece was purchased, which can go a long way in determining its origin.
There are many other small details that go into sizing up a piece of gold jewelry to see if it's valuable.
Check the weight; gold should feel heavy for its size, while gold plating covering another metal will be much lighter. If there are stones, higher quality jewelry (and thus jewelry that is worth more) will have its gemstones held in by metal prongs, rather than being glued in. Pieces where the finish is good on the back of the jewelry have a better chance of being worth more than pieces with sloppy backs.
Things Worth Remembering
It's a fact of life that while the old jewelry you inherit or score at an estate sale might be valuable, you're just as likely to come across gorgeous accessories that aren't so blessed, monetarily speaking.
Don't let this discourage you, however; you can find some real treasures among someone else's trash, and, if worst comes to worst, you can always add those sparkling bits of jewelry that turn out to not be worth so much to your personal collection.
For more information about how much your old gold jewelry might be worth, visit American Jewelers at their website today.