How can I sell a collection of gemstones?
May 30, 2008 12:46 AM   Subscribe

My husband inherited his late father's gemstone collection 6 years ago, and we want to know how to sell it. Thousands of rocks and stones are in the collection, some valuable, some not. Some are labelled, some not.

Should we ask/pay for an appraiser to come to the house and take a look? Where would I find an appraiser? Can we sell them as a job lot? I'm worried about getting ripped off since we have no skills in this trade ourselves. How hard would it be to sell individual pieces on eBay? (We're in Australia).

This collection could potentially be a down payment on a house for us, so if we are going to sell it, we want to do it right.
posted by wingless_angel to Grab Bag (6 answers total)
Call the people in your local area that do estate sales. They will get them appraised by an INDEPENDENT source (who has no interest in purchasing your stones), provide adequate advertising, and get you market value (minus their commissions). But even with their commissions, you will get a WAY better deal with them than by anyone else (for a large collection).

Good luck!

PS...Do NOT let them sell it in large lots. DO NOT!
posted by hal_c_on at 12:53 AM on May 30, 2008

Ahh, you're in luck. There will be a local Lapidary Club wherever you are. Get in touch with them. If they can't help you all that much they are generally friendly with any family owned jewellers (or vice versa) and they can definitely help you. (If you're within reach of the Sunshine Coast QLD I can recommend someone.) Make sure you know exactly what they are before you start selling any of them. Probably forget ebay?? It all depends on what you have though! Collectors, lapidaries and jewellers? Just a wild guess but you have at least some rough/uncut stuff? With things like Opals you don't really know what you've got until you get in there. Sometimes it's disappointing but other times it can be fucking exciting!
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:41 AM on May 30, 2008

Try the Gemmological Association of Australia. Call them and ask for a contact for a collection identifier and valuer in your state. You may find that with jewellery quality (as opposed to collection quality) pieces, the GAA identifier suggests you visit a jeweller valuer.

You can sell collections at estate auctions. You can also sell the pieces individually on ebay. A lot of high quality/interest gems get sold through ebay for reasonable prices. Have a look at other gemstone sellers on ebay to get an idea of what is being sold - check their feedback, then look at the item referred to to see what has been sold for what price.

You don't have gem knowledge/selling experience so do not feel bad about not squeezing every last cent out of each stone. 'Rare' does not always equal 'valuable' when it comes to stones in rock collections so don't set your expectations too high without informed assessment.
posted by Kerasia at 2:17 AM on May 30, 2008

i would sugest first of all contacting a gem club and asking them to give you an idea of what your looking at and its worth. although worth is relative, they will be able to steer you in the right direction.

i have sold a lot of gemstone material on ebay before. i used to do it for a living. the hardest part will be getting good pictures. a good idea is to watch what the particular stone is selling for, it will give you an idea of what you might get.

i have also sold through qld public trustee before too. they are a bit of a mixed bag realy. sometimes, they have given very impressive results, other times, its been very slow. if you sell as a job lot, it will sell fast, but maybe not for as much as if sold seperatly, and slower.

if your not in a massive rush to sell, gem shows are always a good place to sell too. GAA will be able to advise when there are any on in your area.

best of luck with it. if you would like an opinion of what you have, and you live in brisbane. post here. i will keep an eye on this thread. im not a valuer, i have been in the opal trade for over 25 years though, and have learnt a bit over the years.
posted by dent8101 at 4:28 AM on May 30, 2008

Thanks! Some great leads to follow up. We're in Sydney, I'm sure we can find some local clubs.
posted by wingless_angel at 5:57 AM on May 30, 2008

And of course... pick through them to keep anything you really fancy. Custom-made jewellery is always lovely, and could become something of a family heirloom (presuming that you have and/or want kids), with a nice tie to your father-in-law.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:14 AM on May 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

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