If you visit estate sales, you will notice that at many of them, there is a lot of jewelry for sale. Some of this jewelry is usually costume jewelry — it's worth a couple of dollars, at most. But other estate jewelry may actually be quite valuable.
Ultimately, you will want to take a piece of jewelry to a professional jewelry appraiser to see how much it is worth before you resell it. But you don't exactly have this option when you're buzzing through an estate sale and deciding which pieces are worth buying up. So, you'll want to instead look for these characteristics to help you determine which jewelry is valuable.
Is the jewelry magnetic?
Bring a small magnet with you to the estate sale. You can hold it over pieces of jewelry to see if they are metallic. If a piece of jewelry is metallic, then you can be pretty certain it is costume jewelry. Quality, valuable jewelry made from gold and sterling silver won't stick to a magnet.
Are there any engravings on the jewelry?
Look at the inside of ring bands, the backs of pendants, and the underside of bracelets. Costume jewelry is not usually engraved. But if a piece does have an engraving — even if it is just initials, an indicator of the gold content, or a brand name — then there is a good chance the jewelry is valuable and worth buying.
Can you see any glue?
Quality jewelry is usually made with very precisely placed prongs and fasteners that hold the gems in place. Costume jewelry is sometimes held together with glue. If you look closely at the edges around any gems, you might be able to see a little cloudy area or maybe even tiny globs of glue. If you see any evidence of glue, then the jewelry is not valuable and is not worth buying.
How heavy is the jewelry?
As you sort through the various pieces of jewelry for sale, compare their weights in your hand. The heavier pieces of jewelry are more likely to be valuable since gold and silver are heavy. Lightweight jewelry is usually made from nickel or steel, which are not very valuable.
Hopefully, this guide helps you select valuable pieces of jewelry when you visit an estate sale. When you then take them to an appraiser, you will know for sure whether you chose wisely.