Selling Estate Jewelry: Emerald and Diamond Ring

Find out what your estate jewelry is worth, how to appraise it, and where to sell it for the most money.

What is Estate Jewelry?

Estate Jewelry is the pre-owned jewelry belonging to the estate of a deceased person. The age can vary from antique to vintage, and may also include modern and contemporary pieces. A lifetime jewelry collection could be part of your inheritance, or could be part of an estate’s assets as it moves through probate court. It is also a way for jewelry dealers and resellers to identify pieces of used jewelry.

  • Antique and Ancient Jewelry
  • High Carat and Fine Gold
  • Diamond Engagement Rings
  • Gemstones and semi-precious stones
  • Luxury and Fine Watches
  • Men’s jewelry
  • Costume and Fashion Jewelry
  • Retro and Vintage Jewelry
  • Sterling Silver and Southwest pieces
Antique 22k Gold Diamond Ring

I have a collection of estate jewelry: “Where do I start?”

After a family member passes away, valuable items are often removed from their home for safekeeping. One of the first things removed from an estate is the jewelry. Often, valuable pieces of jewelry get a bit mixed up in the process. I have discovered many diamonds and fine jewelry at the bottom of a jewelry box stuffed with cheap beads and plastic bracelets. Finding a trusted professional is a great way to help sort and identify estate jewelry.

Antique 22k Gold Diamond Ring

Sort Estate Jewelry into categories:

  • Fashion and Costume
  • Designer pieces: Tiffany, Van Cleef Arpels, Cartier
  • Sterling Silver: Southwest, Modern, Danish, etc
  • Wrist Watches and Pocket Watches
  • Fine Gold, Diamond, and Gemstone
  • Unknown

What is Estate Jewelry worth?

The value of estate jewelry is determined by several factors. Estate diamonds should be evaluated and may need to be certified by a trusted source such as the GIA. Some pieces of old or broken gold jewelry may be considered scrap gold. The value of scrap gold is determined by the market price, weight and purity. Collectors and dealers of vintage jewelry are always looking for good fashion and costume pieces. It may look like junk jewelry, but a rare or signed piece can easily be worth hundreds of dollars. The real value comes from rare designer pieces: Tiffany, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chanel, and David Yurman pieces are worth much more than the value of the gold or silver. Find a trusted professional to help determine values before you sell.

Is it Scrap Gold?

When a piece of jewelry has reached the end of its life it can be recycled for the value of the metal. It may also pay to have a jeweler look at a piece of antique jewelry before you melt it down. A simple repair could revive and increase the value of a piece.

Estate jewelry or scrap gold?

Important note:

        Just like the stock market, the value of estate jewelry changes over time. The price of gold, silver, and diamonds vary from day to day. Written appraisals usually have a shelf life. Most insurance companies and probate courts will not accept an appraisal that is more than two or three years old.

Should I get an appraisal?

A professional appraisal can be very helpful in determining the value of estate jewelry. Probate courts and family disbursements may require a formal written appraisal. When estate jewelry is itemized and insured as line items on an insurance rider, a current appraisal is required. A certified professional appraiser can prepare a formal written report for your insurance company or the probate court. A certified professional appraiser will most likely use one of two methods to determine value: Fair Market Value and Retail Replacement Value.

Fair Market Appraisal:

Fair Market Value is the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. This is an excellent method for a disbursement appraisal, or a research appraisal that will help you price items for sale. These values often represent what an item might sell for at a well advertised public auction.

Retail Replacement Appraisal:

Retail Replacement Value is most often used for insurance. It is the highest amount that would be required to replace a property with another of similar age, quality, origin, appearance, provenance, and condition within a reasonable length of time in an appropriate and relevant market. This method of appraisal accounts for the fact that if an item is to be replaced quickly, you may have to pay a retail price. Replacement value is very different from what you can expect to sell your estate jewelry for.

How and where can I sell Estate Jewelry?

There are so many buyers of estate jewelry out there that it can be confusing. Everyone seems to have a “We Buy Gold” or “Highest Prices paid” sign out by the street. It is important to find a reputable and honest buyer. Here are some of the things to look for when choosing to sell your estate jewelry:

  • An established business with a good reputation
  • A physical address and presence in the community
  • True and Positive online reviews
  • A transparent and comfortable transaction



Antique Cameo Estate JewelrySo, now you know what Estate Jewelry is, How to sort and identify Estate Jewelry, How to determine the value of estate jewelry, and the different types of appraisals. The next step is to find a reputable buyer and sell your estate jewelry for the best price. Remember to ask questions, and get more than one quote! You might be surprised at the different prices each buyer is willing to pay.