Selling jewelry is a bit like buying and selling a car: when you buy it brand new, you are paying a premium price, and as soon as you drive it off the lot, that price goes down. The price you can now get for it as a used item now depends greatly on who you are selling it to and how.

There are a few different types of jewelry resale:

Selling gold has been around for a long time, but Cash4Gold made it a craze. However, my personal opinion: don’t send your jewelry or other valuables through the mail to be sold for cash. You want this transaction to be hands on, not hands off.

1.  Selling your jewelry for scrap.

2. Selling your jewelry as a piece.

3. Selling your diamond or gemstone.


Selling for Scrap

Selling jewelry for scrap has gained some serious traction in the last decade. You’ve seen the signs, stores, and kiosks all over the place, I’m sure. It’s hard to ignore the giant yellow logos flashing dollars signs everwhere: “We Buy Gold! Bling!” Personally, I’m a little more than skeptical of most of these places, but selling for cash is a viable option, so here are some guidelines and things to be aware of to make sure you get the most out of the sale:

1. Separate your jewelry as best you can into these categories: gold, silver, pieces with gems, and pieces without gems.

2. Any jewelry with gems should be evaluated before you do anything else. There might be stones of value that you may want to sell separately.

3. Take your pieces and shop around. This is super important. Each potential buyer is going to offer you a different price based on current market values. You want to find the place that is paying the highest value per gram, ounce, or pennyweight.

Tip: You will get paid more on days when the gold or silver market is high. You can check here to see the current market. It changes everyday, so keep an eye out.

4. The purchaser will—and should—separate your jewelry by metal type and karat. These differences will affect the value of your pieces.

5. The jewelry will be weighed in front of you, so both you and the purchaser can see the weight. Like metals should be weighed together, separated by karat and metal type.

Tip: Be very wary of any purchaser that does not look at the metal type or karat. This is a major red flag! Gold is worth more than silver, and 18-karat gold is worth more by weight than 14-karat gold, so be aware and don’t be swindled.

6. Depending on state laws, the purchaser may ask for proof of identity and may make a copy of your ID. This is done to ensure that the person selling the jewelry has not stolen it. The ID copy is kept with a receipt of the transaction for future records.

7. The buyer will pay you in cash or by check on the spot for the items being sold.

Tip: Do not accept a check from a business you are unfamiliar with. Only accept a check if you are very confident in the business’s reputation and/or are already familiar with them. If you aren’t, insist on being paid in cash. If they refuse, well, go elsewhere.

Selling as a Piece

Selling your jewelry as a piece means that you are not selling it for scrap value, but you think someone would buy it and wear it. You are expecting to sell the item for more than its scrap value. When doing this, you have a few different options regarding how and where to sell. But before you even make that choice you need to determine the value of the piece . Once you have an idea of what its worth, then you should consider at what price you are willing to sell it. Most people buying secondhand jewelry will be looking for a deal, so be prepared to negotiate. Set a minimum price for each piece to make the process and negotiations go more smoothly.

Now you can find your buyer. There are two primary audiences to target for jewelry sale:

A reputable establishment will take the time to check the karat of your jewelry, whether you are selling for scrap or as an item.

1. A jewelry store or other reseller.

A great first place to try to sell a piece is to an actual jeweler. Not all jewelry stores will buy pieces, but even if the store you go into isn’t interested, they may know someone in town who might be. If you are selling to a retail business, like a jeweler or antique dealer—many sell antique or used jewelry—you have to be prepared to accept a relatively low offer. Resellers want—and need—to make a profit on the item, so they will typically offer one-third to one-half the item’s retail (what they expect to sell it for) value .

The benefit to selling to a reseller is that you can get the cash quickly. You may also ask if the store would be willing to put the piece on consignment, which could yield you a larger profit. This means that the reseller will keep a percentage of the sale price in exchange for selling the item. You will receive your cut only after the item has sold in their store. Auction houses may also be a good reseller option for a high-end item.

2. The public.

Selling a piece to an individual can be more profitable than selling to a retail store, but it will oftentimes take a longer amount of time to find a buyer. These days, the best way to sell to an individual is through an online retailer like eBay, Craigslist, or (If you don’t know about them, yet, check it out! They offer security for both the buyer and the seller.)

For all three of these sites, or any others you may use, you will want to take lots of photos of your jewelry. Pictures and scores of accurate information will help get you a good price and find a buyer more quickly. You may also want to get the piece cleaned and polished before taking said pictures. Having an appraisal or original receipt for an item will help, as well, as it’s great proof of the item’s worth and description.

Tip: The popular saying, “It’s worth what someone will pay for it” will definitely apply to selling a piece of jewelry for more than a piece’s scrap value. If the item’s style is out of date, even if it’s in great shape, it may be hard to find a buyer willing to pay more than it is worth in scrap. However, this does not really apply to larger gemstones and diamonds, so be careful if a buyer tries to pull that line if you are selling a 15-carat aquamarine.

Selling as a Stone

The overall approach to selling a gemstone or diamond is similar to that of selling your jewelry as a piece. But there are a few additional things to keep in mind when selling a jewelry item with a large-carat gem or diamond or when selling loose stones. (Many of these tips can be followed if you are trying to sell your jewelry as a piece as well.)

1. Make sure you know exactly what you are selling.

Just because Aunt Shelly told you the pink stone in the ring she gave you is a sapphire does not mean that it actually is a sapphire. And when it comes to selling an item, that can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars difference in a sales price. So protect your interests and have your piece looked at by a jeweler or gemologist. There is a lot of misinformation floating around out there!

The setting of this large aquamarine may not be the most stylish, but that does not diminish the value of the gem itself!

2. Get your piece appraised.

If your item is worth more that $2,000, its best to have an appraisal done. It will make the sale easier for you and reduce risk factors for both you and potential buyers. Now remember, the appraisal will serve two functions: it will tell you exactly what you have in your piece of jewelry—the type of stone, grade, color, cut, clarity, carat weight, metal type, etc.—and it will provide you with a true value for your item. This is a retail value, not a resale value—just keep that in mind when negotiating your sale price.

 3. Gemstones and diamonds have “going rates” that increase and decrease based on the market and availability.

The cost per carat of any gemstone or diamond changes over the years with the fluctuations in supply and demand from the market. This is especially true for larger-carat items, for example a three carat diamond you purchased in 1990 is worth more now than when you bought it. Make sure that when you are selling your gem, you are familiar with the current market. The cost per carat will also depend on other factors, such as color, cut, clarity, carat size, and grade of the stone. Some gemstones can also be worth more if they are from specific mines or regions of the world, which is something to look into if you have a unique gem.

Once you’ve done your due diligence to prep your gemstones or diamonds for sale, you can get looking for those potential buyers. Again, you have resellers and the public, but the process is slightly different:

1. A resale buyer

The resale buyer is going to be your fastest option for selling a stone. Some potential resale buyers will be jewelry stores, gem dealers, diamond buyers, antique dealers, and pawn shops. As with resellers for pieces, this is someone who will purchase the item from you with the intent on selling it again. Once more, you will be made a lower offer from a buyer who has the intent of reselling your gem, but it will be a much faster and easier sale than trying to sell it to the public on your own. And sometimes, time really is money.

2. The public

Selling a gem to the public is challenging but not impossible. As I mentioned prior, you can sell your gem at the same places you can sell your pieces online. Some jewelry designers and creators do troll the web for gems (so a reseller masquerading as the public) so you might get lucky. If the gem is of great value, though, you may want to look into finding an auction house that specializes in jewelry items. You can expect to get a better price for your gem when selling to the public, though it will most likely not be full-blown retail value.

Happy informed selling!


Jess the Jeweler

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