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5 Things You Need to Know About Estate Jewelry

Buying estate jewelry can be tricky. There’s more to it than finding some trinket, deciding it would look nice to wear to that party, and then dropping big bucks on it simply because it’s old. It’s a process of evaluating individual pieces, authenticating the origins and determining the value. Beyond the sentimental attachments to the past, the estate jewelry industry represents a meticulous approach to cataloguing quality items that have withstood the test of time.

The basics every buyer should know:

1 Evaluate pieces based on these three factors: rarity, quality and value. Rarity refers to whether or not an item is one of a kind versus mass-produced. Quality is defined by how the piece was made – by hand or by machine. Value is determined by several components, such as whether a piece is signed or not, which period it belongs to and the price in relation to the current market.

2 Old does not necessarily mean valuable. The pricing hierarchy is more dependent on rarity, the presence of a signature and current trends than the specific date of a piece. Art Deco has been the rage for the last 15 to 20 years, so items from this period will fetch a higher price. And of course, value depends on the specific piece itself.

3 When in doubt, defer to the experts. Before making a purchase, become educated on that particular period and the items available. Antique jewelry shows provide an opportunity to speak with industry leaders. Ask to take pieces to an estate jeweler to be evaluated. Provident Jewelry offers a free verbal evaluation for those who bring items into any of its South Florida locations.

4 Keep documentation, especially when treating it as an investment opportunity. According to the Changing Face of Wealth survey by BMO Private Bank, 68 percent of high net-worth Americans have a hobby investment. Of those, 38 percent invest in jewelry. Floridians specifically have the highest hobby investment participation in the U.S. at 76 percent, with 41 percent of that number investing in jewelry. Michael Dyer, managing director for BMO Private Bank in West Palm Beach, advises clients to have pieces appraised and keep all records for the tax basis.

5 Beyond the numbers, buying estate jewelry offers a unique opportunity to own a concrete part of history. “There’s a story behind every piece,” Seth Berman of Provident Jewelry explains, “and they can be passed down through a family.” Imagine a ring adorning the hand of a Victorian lady, passed down through generations only to be lost in a war and then found again. The possibilities are literally endless. And somehow that piece ends up in this modern day, and the story continues.