Ask LH: How Much Are My Vintage Earrings Worth?

Dear Lifehacker, I was wondering if you can help me appraise some gold stud earrings I wish to sell? They're jadelite cream with a vintage apple design. Each piece has 11 diamonds on the back totaling 22. I can see hallmarks but can't quite make them out. I don't know their value or maker. I would appreciate any help! Thanks, Sharon

Image: Supplied

Dear Sharon,

We have many skills at Lifehacker, but appraising vintage jewelry unfortunately isn't one of them. Your best bet is to have it professionally evaluated.

Most jewelry stores provide this service for a small fee, although you might need to seek out a specialist for rare vintage items like the ones above. Most diamond and gold buyers will appraise your jewelry for free although you should obviously take their evaluation with a grain of salt -- it's worth visiting multiple buyers to get a ballpark figure and weed out the cheats.

Alternatively, if you have contents insurance you should be able to get an appraisal from your provider. The plus side of an insurance appraisal is that you'll be compensated in the event of theft or loss. (Check the terms and conditions of your policy to see what type of valuables are covered.)

Just be aware that the insurance provider's quoted replacement value usually doesn't translate to resale value. Indeed, the same goes for the retail appraisals we mentioned earlier. These are just opinions and should be treated as such: unless it's exceedingly rare, you're going to struggle to find a buyer who will match the evaluation.

So why bother getting it evaluated at all? Well, a third-party appraisal will at least give you some idea of what your earrings are worth. Plus, you'll receive official documentation from the jeweler or gemologist. This can be a handy thing to have when auctioning off the item; particularly if you're willing to sell below its quoted value.

Once you know what your earrings are (roughly) worth it's time to find a buyer. This guide contains plenty of advice; from preparing your items for sale to tried-and-trusted selling options.

We're also going to open this one up to readers. If anyone has expertise in this area, feel free to provide additional tips in the comment section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Jewellery: A trinket that is worth a lot until you sell it.

    Yeah, impossible to value from a photo.

    Sharon best hope is they're old and made by a desirable jeweller. In which case, get them appraised and sold through a speciality shop, dealer or auction. Then, only expect to see around half to 2/3rds of market value - they are businesses after all.

    Otherwise, the average high street shop will likely just offer what the raw components are worth and would likely reclaim them to make new pieces. In which case, it may not be a lot. For example, that the diamonds look glued not set suggests they aren't up the higher end of the grade scale.

    Going privately is an option but, as above, unless they would be highly sought after, the return may not be much higher ... assuming they sell at all.

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