Purchase of second-hand or vintage jewelry : appraisal methodology
Buying old or second-hand jewelry is not a simple task. That's why individuals, in their own interest, are better off buying from an expert, such as the Miller jewelry in Paris. You may be wondering how we ensure the authenticity of the luxury jewels sold in our store? Here is how we carry out appraisals before buying vintage or second hand jewelry.
Jewelry appraisal is a discipline that requires a lot of knowledge:
- Ability to calculate the value of precious metal (gold, platinum, etc.) of any jewelry
- Capacity to assess the weight and quality of diamonds
- Identification of precious stones and their value
- Knowledge of the different jewelry eras, especially from 1900 to nowadays
- Ability to identify hallmarks and signatures of historical jewelers and major brands
This expertise allows us to sort out authentic jewelry from fake pieces. The value of a reproduction is, of course, much lower than the value of the real deal. The value of a copy is calculated based on the intrinsic value of its components. In case of doubt, the expert jeweler who appraises and buys back second-hand jewelry will seek the advice of colleagues.
What questions should you ask to someone selling second-hand jewelry?
If you want to sell second-hand jewelry, you will be asked how long you have owned it. The more recent the acquisition date, the more likely there will be a gap between the purchase amount and the proposed buyback price. The buyer must, of course, justify his price. It is also common to ask if the piece of jewelry is a gift or if it was purchased. If bought, one can ask where the purchase took place, which helps to establish the authenticity of the item.
How to determine the authenticity of an old jewel?
Authenticity is the trickiest subject in the second-hand jewelry business due to the relatively high number of quality counterfeits circulating. Fake signatures on vintage jewelry are usually easier to spot. Among the signs that make it possible to recognize fake antique jewelry, we have:
- Inferior craftsmanship
- Fonts or hallmarks mismatch
Today, luxury jewelry sold by the prestigious maisons are mostly laser engraved. Unfortunately, this makes signature forging much easier. This is why some professional jewelry stores are reluctant to acquire certain pieces unless they come with a proof of purchase or they know well the seller. At Miller, we cannot afford to sell jewelry that is not 100% authentic, since this is a guarantee we offer to our customers. This is why we will not buy vintage or pre-owned jewelry we are not 100% sure it's authentic. Which, of course, does not call into question the good faith of the seller, or even the authenticity of the piece.
Certain stylistic attributes can also raise doubts. For example, in the case of old Art déco jewelry featuring modern diamond cuts, or traces of modern tools on vintage jewelry. When a customer wishes to sell a diamond of more than one carat, we ask for a gemological certificate. This is in our interest, but also of the customer, who will thus know exactly what he is selling. If we end up purchasing the diamond, we pay the certificate cost.
Price of a second-hand jewel or a diamond: what you need to know
To assess the value of a diamond, you can compare prices on specialized sites. For a piece of jewelry, one can also consult websites or auction results. The price can nevertheless be dictated by economic conditions. For example, if we see that the demand on the market is high for a specific model, we can offer a higher price, and vice versa. The need (or not) to replenish stocks with a specific product (a brand, earrings, emerald jewelry, etc.) can also influence the price offered.
In the process of purchasing and selling second-hand jewelry, excessive bargaining is to be avoided. If there is always a margin of negotiation for both sides, in this business each party must ensure that the interests of the seller and the buyer are preserved. This responsible attitude favors long-term relationships and helps in establishing an atmosphere of mutual trust.