When you’re ready to sell a piece of jewelry, you’re going to try to get the best price for it—and that’s going to take a little bit of preparation. The price of pre-owned jewelry can fluctuate between extremes on the market based on a variety of different factors. In light of that, we have put together this guide to helping you boost your jewelry resale value.
1. Clean and repair your jewelry before you put it on the market.
Naturally, you want your piece to be appraised at its best possible condition. As such, we recommend you make the effort to clean your jewelry and make as many repairs to the piece as you can without changing the integrity of its original structure. For example, a necklace with a broken clasp will probably fetch less than one with a functioning one, unless it is valuable on its own, like a Tiffany & Co. clasp would be.
Cleaning your piece shouldn’t be a particularly laborious task, but there are very specific methods to follow that come with caring for different types of metals and gemstones. In general, you should wipe down your piece regularly with a polishing cloth to keep build-up from forming. Don’t use paper towels or other paper materials because the fibers can scratch the jewelry. Store the piece in a fabric-lined jewelry box with anti-tarnish strips as to keep it from tarnishing.
Cleaning metal jewelry
If the piece needs more substantial cleaning, make sure you only use the least abrasive cleaners available. Metal jewelry can be submerged in a bowl of water with two drops of mild dish soap diluted into it. Make sure that you rinse it in warm water and dry it off with a polishing cloth. For more comprehensive guides to cleaning metal-specific jewelry, you can go through our literature on cleaning tarnished gold and silver jewelry, white gold, and mixed-metal jewelry.
Cleaning jewelry set with gemstones
If a piece has a precious stone in it, however, the rules do change. While diamonds are very hard and can withstand treatment with a cleaner and a soft bristle toothbrush, precious stones like pearls are too soft for that. Never use cleaners or submerge a piece of pearl jewelry in water without consulting a jeweler first, as you can literally dissolve a pearl completely by using the wrong cleaner. Stick to a soft cloth to clean pearls instead, or bring it to a jeweler for professional cleaning.
If you prefer to care for pearl jewelry yourself, we have a guide to help you do so here. However, we do recommend taking your pieces to a jeweler for professional cleaning, no matter what material the piece is made of. A professional will be able to assure that your jewelry remains undamaged while still treating the piece to a deep and thorough cleaning.
2. Do your research.
Doing a little homework on the piece you’re trying to sell could definitely pay off. As each genuine piece of designer or branded jewelry comes with a serial number, you should be able to look up that specific model to find out more about it from the manufacturer. The more information you have about your item, the better.
In addition to looking it up for specifics, you could also see how similar pieces are selling on the market. Google has a Shopping tab you can use for exactly this purpose, which would help come up with a ballpark price to aim for when selling your item.
Researching a potential buyer is also very important to the process; you need to make sure that the person or the institution you’re selling your item to is reputable so they don’t just run off without a trace with your precious piece of jewelry. When selling to a jeweler or a pawnshop, look them up (preferably through the Better Business Bureau) and read through customer reviews. This goes double for online retailers: it is far too easy for people to steal your product or your information through faulty websites and fake addresses, so make sure your online buyer is a reputable one.
3. Decide on the medium you want to sell through.
Different kinds of buyers will yield different cash values for your item. Because of varying overhead fees, time constraints, and other factors, a piece could be worth one amount at a pawnshop and significantly more at auction or at a jeweler. As such, choose your potential buyer carefully and factor in things like the ideal time frame in which you want to sell your item.
Go to a Jeweler or a Pawn Shop
If you choose to sell your item to a jeweler or a pawn shop, expect to be paid less than the amount you bought it for. You probably won’t fetch the amount the item was appraised for, either: appraisals are usually done for insurance purposes, so the result will likely be inflated.
In addition to that, a jeweler or pawnshop will have to make a commission on the purchase somehow so they can keep their lights on and doors open. Because their purchase of an item is essentially a bet that they will be able to find someone else who will want to buy it, they tend to lowball prices to assure that they will make back the money they invested into it plus extra. Also, because you can get cash immediately for your item at a pawnshop, the person behind the counter will offer you an especially low amount for it.
Sell to a Friend
As convenient as the fast cash might be, it would be worth it to hunt down a better price elsewhere if you have the time to spare. For example, selling the item to a friend would probably yield a better value, since they don’t have overhead fees like rent and electricity for a brick-and-mortar shop to worry about. This also comes with the assurance that the piece is going to someone who will take care of it, which could be a valuable point if you’re emotionally attached to the item you’re selling.
Auction it Off
If you don’t have any interested buyers among your friends, then perhaps an auction would fit you better. It’s important to remember, however, that this can also be a gamble: after all, the auction house might not even accept your piece, especially if it’s a particularly high-brow auction house like Christie’s or Sotheby’s, because auction houses have strict qualifications for the items they auction off. If your item is accepted, though, there are also extra fees associated with putting an item up for an in-person auction. After all that, the item could still not sell well and fetch very little, if anything at all. Then again, interested buyers might also drive the price up far past its potential value at a jeweler or a pawnshop. A successful auction has a lot more to do with luck than anything else.
A consignment store is a much more reliable option. If your piece sells, the consignment store will take a cut of the earnings and you keep the rest. If it doesn’t sell, it is returned to you. At a brick-and-mortar consignment store, you have very little control over how your item is displayed or how many people get to see it, which can be a disadvantage for people who want to curate their pieces’ reach more.
One of the best jewelry resale options out there is to go through a trusted online marketplace like TrueFacet. With us, you have more control about how your item is listed, and because we have a global reach and an elite client base, you can rest assured that your item will be exposed to as many of the most discerning buyers as possible.
The services we offer our resellers are also some of the best in the business, so your product will receive the first-class treatment and fetch a better price. Plus, unlike brick-and-mortar consignment stores, which can ask for up to 60% of the final cut of your product’s sale, we make sure you get back as much of the sale price as possible—you earn back 85% of your final resale price. For more information about the services we offer and about selling your item with us, click here.
4. Include a descriptive listing.
It should go without saying that the more information a potential buyer can get about your piece once it’s on the market, the more likely they will be to move forward with buying it. When looking to resell a piece of pre-owned jewelry, be ready to include comprehensive descriptions of the item itself and the accessories it comes with. For example, jewelry that comes in its original branded box with certifications of its quality and authenticity could sell for more than the same piece without a box or papers, so those details are crucial for ensuring a fitting price.
More importantly, though, is the description of the piece itself. Besides including information from the manufacturer about the model’s specifications, you also need to inform the buyer of the flaws your piece has sustained. Nicks or scratches in the metal or on the gem, broken or missing parts, and other imperfections will affect the price of the item, so it’s paramount to include as much information about these things as possible. If you’re selling the piece online, you should also make sure photos of it are high-definition so a potential buyer can see exactly what they’re buying. For tips about photographing your jewelry for resale, visit our story about it here.