OTTAWA – Anne Wallner carefully removes a platinum and diamond clip made by Cartier from a cabinet in her jewelry store.
Often worn in pairs, it has only one of the mid-century handmade pieces for sale.
With over seven carats of diamonds, including a 1.25 carat center stone, the price is $ 28,000.
“A comparable new piece would cost over $ 50,000,” said Wallner, owner of Alyea’s Jewelers in Ottawa.
This is the allure of buying estate jewelry.
“The price of estate jewelry is typically 40, 50, or even 60% less than a comparable new piece,” she says.
But it can offer more for those looking for a distinctive trinket as Valentine’s Day approaches.
Collectors looking for authentic period pieces are looking for estate sales, and those looking to minimize their environmental footprint may also want to take a look.
“It is certain that today, the fact that it is, in a sense, recycled products, and that it therefore has a very low environmental impact, is very attractive, especially for young people”, Wallner said.
Estate jewelry is jewelry that has been owned by someone else in the past.
It may be only a few years old or it may be a piece over 100 years old with a fascinating provenance.
When considering an estate jewelry, it is important to consider the quality of the materials, including metals, gemstones and workmanship. You need to make sure that the clasps are working, that the gems don’t move, and that the prongs that hold them in position are in good condition.
“Those claws that hold the stones in place wear out and the stones can then loosen, so you want to make sure they don’t come loose,” says Lee Rock, Gemologist, Certified Diamond Appraiser and Certified Master Appraiser. .
Rock, who also teaches diamond classification and jewelry valuation at George Brown College in Toronto, explains that if it is an antique piece, potential buyers should know the approximate date of its manufacture and know s ‘it comes with its original box.
“The value almost doubles on antique jewelry if it comes with the original box,” she says.
Hallmarks stamped on a coin will indicate the type of gold or silver used, while a mark will indicate the maker, but not all coins will have them. Diamonds can be laser engraved with a traceable identification number.
Rock says jewelry made in Canada could include both an hallmark and a trademark, or neither.
“Both are legal,” she said, noting that small independent jewelers may not have a registered trademark.
Donna Hawrelko, president of the Canadian Gemological Association and a gemology teacher at Vancouver Community College, advises people to ask the store if you can have the piece independently appraised.
“If he doesn’t rate what the store is selling him for or more, then you want to have the option to bring him back,” she said.
If the store is unwilling to allow you to have the item appraised before purchasing it or to return the part after purchasing it, Hawrelko says to consider bringing an appraiser to the store with you if it is. something you always want to buy “especially if you are spending thousands of dollars for a part,” Hawrelko said.
“It’s worth spending maybe $ 100 or $ 150 to bring in an appraiser and make sure that’s what he says,” she said.
Buying estate jewelry means that the choices can be limited by more than the amount of money potential buyers want to spend.
Finding the right piece that matches your taste – or that of your Valentine – can be more difficult. But with a little luck and patience, it is possible to find a beautiful piece with the added bonus of a story.
Hawrelko has a combination of estate jewelry and contemporary jewelry, but she says she prefers estate items.
“I am personally an art deco fan, so I love the designs of the time,” she said. “I am attracted to this kind of jewelry, so I like it when I see this kind of pieces.”