How to sell jewelry?
January 12, 2012 4:41 PM   Subscribe

How can I sell a piece of gold and diamond jewelry and how much should I expect to receive?

I recently won a sweepstakes, and my prize was a diamond ring. It is 18 carat gold, with a pearl "disc", and 22 small diamonds totalling .40 carats. The retail value is listed as $1150. I don't want the ring because I could really use the money.

I have no idea where to start with this. Those stores that buy gold all seem a bit shady to me. Plus, I'm not sure if they would give me anything for the diamonds. I don't want to be ripped off, of course. I'm not sure where else one would go to sell jewelry. Also, how much can I expect to get for something like this? Would half of the retail value be reasonable? Maybe more?

Any tips on how to get started would be great. Thank you!
posted by waywardgirl to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, I should mention that I am in the Detroit area, if anyone has any recommendations of shops.
posted by waywardgirl at 4:42 PM on January 12, 2012

Previously. In a nutshell: figure out what the gold is actually worth, find a good local jeweler, and hope to get 90% of the melt value. The retail price of the ring is irrelevant; all that really matters is how much gold there is in it unless you want to try selling it on eBay.
posted by DrGail at 5:48 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Selling gold is pretty straightforward, selling diamonds is just about impossible. Their value is artificially upheld by the diamond industry, and they have absolutely no interest in resales.
posted by xingcat at 6:07 PM on January 12, 2012

Just for reference, I recently purchased a ring with several diamonds totaling close to that in total weight and high-quality white gold, and retail at a Boston jeweler, it cost an order of magnitude less than that.
posted by olinerd at 6:45 PM on January 12, 2012

I read somewhere (maybe on here) about someone who bought or sold their engagement ring on craigslist, and then about other people who had bought or sold jewelry on craigslist. Consider getting the ring appraised (I don't know how much that costs) and then trying to sell it on craigslist for less than that. And obviously make sure you are smart and safe about the whole transaction.
posted by echo0720 at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2012

The "retail value" is probably a fantasy number. Visit a real jeweler and try to find something similar and note the price, before bringing out the ring and that you want to sell it.

And strangely enough you'll probably get a fairish deal at a long-established pawnshop. They will offer you around 60% of what they will try to sell it for as it is, or maybe 75-80% of the gold melt value if they intend to melt it. You can take that or try to sell it yourself, which will be very difficult.
posted by caclwmr4 at 9:17 PM on January 12, 2012

Best answer: IANYJ. I am formerly a jeweller.

First, you need an independent, accredited appraisal. Here is why. And here is some great information about how to choose an appraiser and what should be contained in your jewellery appraisal. Cheap ones aren't good, good ones aren't cheap. You could also take your current appraisal along, and forget about the investment in the appraisal, but be prepared for it to have no value in the transaction.

In addition to asking for the retail (not insurance) value on paper from an independent, univested appraiser (which is the likely value you were given with the ring - or you perhaps even have the suggested retail value there), you want to know (informally, perhaps) the fair market value (what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller in an open market with all conditions known and no urgency to sell) - and also informally, a cash disposal value, which is essentially what the parts are worth. What you could hope to sell it for is somewhere between the latter two values. Likely, closer to the "melt" value, but that depends on whom you sell it to, as well as how desirable the style of the ring is.

First, your gold is 18k, so that's 750 parts out a thousand gold vs. alloy. Depending on your ring mount's gram weight, that's where most of your value is. The diamonds are about .01 ct each, so they're probably small single-cut, not round brilliant diamonds -- and even if they're full-cut, they never use the best diamonds in those, only wonky ones. They are, likely and sadly, negligible. Your disc pearl may be a mabe pearl, and again, their wholesale prices are pretty reasonable.

I say that your price will depend on who buys it.

An end-user will pay the most, but will be hardest to sell to. This is the person who will ultimately buy it to wear it. Craigslist, Kijiji - what ever options you have locally. Follow the usual means to protect yourself. On eBay, rings with similar qualities would list just under a thousand, and not necessarily sell.

If it's a local sweepstakes, the jeweller who donated the ring may offer a credit toward something you want more. He may want your business in the future. If it's a larger sweepstakes, well, it was probably purchased wholesale and you're out of luck as far as that goes.

If you take it to a jeweller who has estate or second-hand jewellery, they will sell it at a price that's 30-50% below the appraised retail value (by the time their customer haggles with them and they consider their costs to sell it for a while) They will pay half to a third of that, to leave wiggle room for their expenses (including sizing it, absorbing tax etc.). They may also consign it for you. This takes longer for you to receive cash, but your percentage is higher when it sells, which could be five minutes or five years.

An auction house may be glad to offer it for you. This is where gold buyers sell pieces they don't want to break up, where deceased people's jewellery goes, etc. This reaches end users and dealers alike. The percentage is similar to what you'd get on consignment at the store, and can often be negotiated as well. You can set a reserve so that if it doesn't sell, it can be returned to you. It's faster than consignment with the potential for a higher return if it's bid up. Read your terms carefully.

A gold buyer will give you slightly less than than the melt value, really. There was a previous question here not too long ago where this was discussed when someone wanted to turn a ring into another piece of jewellery.

I don't know where you are, but I would ask trusted friends (or their parents, even - they're more likely to have cultivated a long-term relationship with someone) for referrals to jewellers. And remember that while you probably have a very nice ring there that has a very impressive piece of paper attached to it, every time something like this changes hands, each person only makes a very small percentage of the fair market value.
posted by peagood at 9:55 PM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Any chance that the jeweler who donated it to the raffle would buy it back from you at a discount?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:06 PM on January 12, 2012

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