Thursday, April 5, 2012

Determining The Value of Costume Jewelry

We all know that costume jewelry has little inherent value as it is not made of precious metals or gemstones. Therefore you cannot measure its value based upon the standards of gold and diamond jewelry.  The value of costume jewelry is perceived in relation to its collectibility or wearability.  Thus, the condition of your pieces as well as its desirability are the two biggest factors in determining its value. Other factors affecting value will be in what venue it is sold, such as antique store, mall, cyber auction, etc., geographic area, Current trends and fads, and supply and demand.

While it is possible to comparison shop your jewelry by looking in antique malls, on the internet, or in published price guides, you need to know that all of these venues can be inaccurate.  Prices are often determined by the owner of the pieces rather that being based on actual sales.  The collectible value of a piece can change rapidly based upon fluctuations in supply and demand.  In addition, the books themselves may be dated.

Ultimately, regardless of what some book or Antiques Roadshow says, your jewelry is worth what someone will pay for it, if you are selling it. If you are keeping it, then it is worth whatever value you  wish to place upon it.  

Should you decide to sell your pieces, the following is a breakdown of factors that afffect the value of costume jewelry:

Inspect your pieces for conditions that will have an impact on desirability and value:

  • Wear and scratches   
  • Chipped or peeling paint, plating, or faux pearls  
  • Dark spots, graying, yellowing of stones  
  • Missing parts   
  • Poor repairs 

The following factors impact a piece's desirability in a re-sale market:

  • Color  
  • Condition  
  • Size  
  • Era   
  • Style and Design  
  • Designer and/or Manufacturer   
  • Current fads or collecting trends 
  • Supply & demand   
  • Price  

These factors will have an impact on value in a re-sale market

  • Desirability
  • Condition 
  • Geographical area  
  • Sales venues such as thrift, re-sale, antique shop, internet (website or auction)


  • Sentimental Value - Priceless
  • "Book"  Value - What value guides indicate
  • Antique Value - as seen in an antique store/jewelry store
  • Secondary Market Value - as seen in a Resale Store
  • Thrift Value - as seen in a low end Resale Store
  • Fair Market Value - what you can, as a willing seller,  sell it for to a willing buyer
  • Estate Value - what it can be sold for easily & quickly in order to dispose of an estate 

As the places to check for jewelry values are numerous, so will be the value you get for your specific piece. Let ebay be your friend. You can search ebay's closed auctions to see what your item is selling for as well as the completed listings to see what they actually sold for.  Alternately, doing a Goole search will take you to some web sites that have similar pieces of jewelry.  Your local library and bookstore will have many books with price guides on Costume Jewelry.  Check your local antique stores for similar items.  If your piece of jewelry is difficult to search for because it is very non-specific, or a custom piece, browsing through antique stores, resale stores, and on line web sites is probably the best way to go about it.

There are some online appraisal services available and these are usually  fee based.   You may wish to seach the internet for these services.  One such service is  My opinion of online appraisals?  Personally, I have never used one as most of the items I sell are relatively easy to appraise with a picture. Other categories I admit, can be more difficult, such as fine or costume jewelry which might  need to be seen and examined closely and then researched.  Given that there are inherent problems in an appraisal given from a picture only, you may still find it an option when the fees are reasonable and the experts are professional and well versed in their subject.

After doing the research to price your jewelry you can sell it yourself.  If you wish to sell at  retail prices you must establish a website, or rent a mall space, or find some other way of  disposing of it, such as a neighborhood jewelry party.  You may find that you enjoy the challenge of finding creative ways to sell your jewelry and the learning experience can be invaluable.  Plan to spend a fair amount  time,  a good deal of effort, and a little bit of seed money in making this a profitable venture for you. Also keep in mind that there will be a percentage of pieces that will never sell.

If you are looking for some excellent pieces for your personal collection or even some inventory to re-sell, be sure to stop by my eBay Store where I am having a Jewelry Extravaganza, with pieces starting at an unbelievable 49 cents!  Here are a few items I have for bid right now:

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