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Selling our grandmother's jewelry
August 16, 2006 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Please help my sister and me liberate ourselves (in a wise way) from a bitter, albeit shiny, inheritance

Our grandmother died years ago and we've finally admitted to ourselves and each other that we will never want to wear any of her jewelry. The memories it brings up aren't pleasant and, in the intervening years, my sister has had to factor its value into her homeowner's insurance, which totally sucks.

I'm moving out of Brooklyn in the next couple weeks and she is coming to help me. We plan that she'll bring the jewelry and we'll sell it here in NY somewhere (a friend of hers did that and was happy with the result).

It's mostly 18-24k yellow gold bangles and necklaces. There are also a couple of cocktail rings. The only advice we've had so far is to remove the gems from the rings, sell the metal by itself, keep the stones and get them reset. As my sister says, "No one in our family is ever going to buy a diamond again, right?" Right. Might as well keep these, then?

So...

Do you have some advice in a general way about selling old jewelry, or specific recommendations about where to take it in New York City? I should warn you that we are not at all hardnosed people and we're not good at bargaining. In addition, this grandmother was our beloved mother's mother, our mother died well before her time (and before her own mother) 15 years ago AND their relationship was.... tense. As you've no doubt gathered by now, these objects are extremely emotionally loaded. Both of us are quite fragile when dealing with them and I'd like this to be as painless as possible. We want to rid ourselves of these things, but we also want to be smart. There's not a lot of precious metal floating around in our family.
posted by killerinsideme to Work & Money (8 answers total)
 
Go to the Diamond District in NYC. Pick any of the stores, and politely explain that you're looking for the best price for the jewelry. When they've given you a price range or quote, thank the proprietors for their time, and say you'll be back just as soon as you get a second opinion on the value of your goods. This isn't offensive, it's expected, and will help you get the best price for the items.

Also, you and your sister might consider keeping two of the cocktail ring stones for yourselves if they're emotionally loaded (in a good way). I inherited a bunch of jewelry from a grandmother, and it turned out the stones I found the most aesthetically pleasing were the ones with minimal resale value. I had them reset into pieces I'd actually wear regularly - for example, the giant gold cocktail ring stone turned into a simple silver strand necklace. Something to consider if you are hesitant to part with everything.
posted by lalex at 7:49 PM on August 16, 2006


Criminy, the Diamond District is like throwing these folks to the wolves (albeit Hasidic Jewish wolves). My 2 cents: Open the New York Times and scan for a couple ads from the high-end "we'll buy your grandma's jewelry" places that always advertise in the first section. They specialize in old-money swag unwanted by the kids. These places should give you a written offer, and you won't worry that they've switched your jewels for worthless paste in the back room. (Which is very un-Hasidic, of course, but you never know. I've seen those guys do deals in Dunkin' Donuts, spreading a half-pound of raw diamonds on top of a garbage can.)

If the hifalutin' places laugh at your puny gold trinkets (especially if you're removing the stones), then it may be time for the Diamond District and a haggle-fest.
posted by turducken at 11:25 PM on August 16, 2006


We plan that she'll bring the jewelry and we'll sell it here in NY somewhere (a friend of hers did that and was happy with the result).

Find out how the friend did it, do exactly the same thing, take the first offer, and be rid of those evil stones forever.
posted by pracowity at 1:41 AM on August 17, 2006


If you are keeping the stones, and scrapping the gold, I recommend that you check into selling directly to a precious metals smelter, particularly if you have jewlery of any weight. A retailer/broker is likely only to give you between 30% - 70% of the scrap value of your metals. You can do better at a refinery, and have a more "business-like" transaction.

Though I would check around, I suggest you start with Midwest Refineries. I have heard good things about them.

You can email me if you have any further questions.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:02 AM on August 17, 2006


Oh, I can also tell you that unless you have some valuable jewelry all retailers/brokers will pay you based on the scrap value of the metals. If you do have some valuable pieces (i.e. art jewelry, quality stones, unusual or hot design/maker), you will be offered between 30% and 60% of their actual resale value of the piece, assuming they are being "honest," which they probably won't be unless you already know it's good. If you think you may have some valuable pieces, take them to a reputable jeweler and ask for a fee (not free) appraisal, making sure they know you are not there to sell. A buyer makes most of their money buying large quantities of "scrap" gold to get to the unnoticed 1 or 2 quality pieces mixed into the collection.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:12 AM on August 17, 2006


If you take it to a jeweler for an appraisal, a handy dodge can be that you're just getting them valued for insurance purposes, not to sell.
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 AM on August 17, 2006


One of the companies that advertises in the NYT is Circa, formerly called SellJewelry. I've never used them or contacted them, but clearly their ads did the trick, as I thought of them immeditaly upon seeing your question. Let us know what happens!
posted by hsoltz at 9:42 AM on August 17, 2006


Sorry, don't mean to self promote but having written much of the code for such a thing, thought I should mention our jewelry classified.
posted by GilbertZ at 10:08 PM on December 6, 2006


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