Senior Living

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Health & Spirit

Selling Old Jewelry

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Q: I have a bunch of old, outdated family jewelry that none of my children are interested in. I have no idea if the items are even worth much.

I've figured out the rest of my estate plans, and I think the best option for me is to sell these old pieces and split the cash fairly between my heirs.

The only problem is I don't know where to start! I don't know anything about jewelry, and I'd like to get a fair price.

How do I go about finding the value of what I own?

A: First, get your jewelry appraised by a professional.

Look for someone who belongs to the American Society of Appraisers, International Society of Appraisers or National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. Members of these organizations adhere to ethics and standards that will help protect you.

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For the appraisal process, your fee should be either per item or per hour -- not a percentage of the value of the item appraised! More complex pieces, with intricate settings or multiple elements, will take the appraiser more time.

Ask your appraiser if your jewelry would be worth more as it is or if you sold the components off separately. You can ask for a "melt" price, which tells you the value of precious metals in your jewelry.

You're unlikely to sell your jewelry for the estimated price. Your resale price will likely be much lower, due to retail profit margins and labor costs. Appraisals are frequently done for insurance purposes and, therefore, calculate the replacement cost of your belongings -- not what they're worth to someone else.

One selling option is to look online. Although you will find a larger market, there is more risk involved. Before selling, do your research. If you're selling to a company, check them out with the Better Business Bureau first.

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