Buying and Selling Jewelry On-line
By Edward Lewand
For the past year I have noticed more and more people are buying and selling on the internet. Even my wife sells jewelry and miscellaneous items, everything from shoes and small “interesting” things (that I would have thrown out). She sells these items not for a lot, but in the end it all adds up. I remember at one time there were shops that sold items for people on eBay, but they have fallen by the wayside (maybe they were ahead of their time). Now with everyone and their brother buying and selling everything under the sun, especially jewelry which is a changing industry (a story for another day), I find myself buying more on-line than in stores. So the internet has not only changed the way people buy clothes and household items and jewelry, as well. Buying antique and modern jewelry on-line is a great way to find that special item you’ve wanted and just following common sense when “Love” kicks in will save you time, money and stop you from falling out of “Love” with that piece you have always wanted. Here are just a few suggestions and ways to help you enjoy it.
Diamonds are offered at prices that are close to wholesale (in some cases) and come with money back guarantees. They can also design the settings and direct you to insurance. The savings can be dramatic so young and old alike are buying more and more on-line and the brick and mortar stores are running more sales and trying to get the consumer back in. Unfortunately, many have lowered their quality to be able to offer a better price. If you’re buying a diamond, do your research. Print the information and ask the local jewelry store if they can match or come close. As an appraiser I don’t buy or sell, but I will be traveling with my friend Michael who has been doing his on-line research to see if the stores could match the price. I’ll let you all know how that goes.
So it is not unusual for people to start to buy and sell antique and estate jewelry on-line. The only difference is you can’t hold it or examine it. When buying on-line make sure of the return policy; that you can take it to a professional independent appraiser for verification and that it is unconditionally returnable within so many days.
In buying on-line you have tremendous resources for research. One of the things to check is the information you are finding on the sites you are buying from. Most have educational material on the site, periods, styles etc., but offering free education might be selling from the back door. They win your trust by saying we have your best interest at heart, but we really want you to buy from us. So check the information at other sites as well. The return policy (again should be unconditional) and customer reviews are important to read. Use a credit card when paying and check the company policy as to handling disputes especially on-line issues.
I have found most of the reputable sites show every angle of the piece and list and show repairs. Pricing of the item is something you can research on-line at auction sites, eBay and other selling sites. Remember with antique jewelry you should buy what you love. This makes all the difference – don’t settle because it is close or almost. Make sure the period and style is correct, the workmanship matches the period, and the diamonds are the right cut and style for the time and style. When finding an appraiser one with lots of initials after their name is great, but they might not have the knowledge or the experience in examining a period piece. Find an appraiser who works with antique stores and has had the experience in valuing antique jewelry. A lot of what an appraiser does is based on research and comparison so if you have already done your homework you’ll understand what the appraiser is doing. It is up to the appraiser to do his own research: to identify the period, confirm its authenticity, and that it is the correct for style of the period, etc. The appraiser will then put everything together to form an opinion on the value. Always remember value should be in the range of the purchase price. It could be slightly higher or lower but there could be a small range. It does not mean you over paid, don’t get me wrong, if you paid $10,000 and it appraises for $5,000 then I would be very concerned. If you love it get another opinion or return the piece if the love for the piece is soured. A small range in value is expected being that there are no price guides like with diamonds, so it is up to you to decide if the range is acceptable. A small amount in medium to high priced items (you will have to determine what is your medium and your high price on jewelry) of a few hundred dollars is more or less reasonable. In some cases you might get a much higher value then you paid, the appraiser should be able to explain why, when this happens. And if the value is extremely higher (double) you might want to question the appraiser as to why, especially if it does not agree with your research or get another opinion.
Edward Lewand, GG, ASA, AAA. Private independent Appraiser, Consultant Appraisal Service, LLC.,
New York and Georgia. He is also an Instructor at New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies “The Art of Jewelry Appraising”
Mr. Lewand along with his wife Sandy are the directors’ of the “Antique Jewelry and Art Conference, Inc.” known as “Jewelry Camp” – (www.Jewelrycamp.org) now in its 37th year in New York and Atlanta.
“Jewelry Camp” is a conference of lectures and hands-on sessions pertaining to antique, estate and costume jewelry.
For more information or questions, you can email Edward Lewand at: firstname.lastname@example.org Please include “Journal” in the subject line or call 516-429-2622.