When Christine Gerardi arrives at a client’s house, shoe boxes start to come out of the cupboards. The boxes contain piles of old jewelry – most of it worthless, some valuable, a little in between – and always a puzzled owner who doesn’t know what to do with it all.
“No other item in a home is more controversial than family jewelry,” says Gerardi, a jeweler concierge (which means she works with clients from the comfort of their own home), based in the center of the city. Florida.
Family jewelry carries the stories of love, commitment, milestones and celebrations. And because jewelry symbolizes love and money, it is the subject of legends, traditions, and lawsuits.
I met Gerardi through a friend who had rummaged through his mother’s things. “Christine took the time to help me sort and separate,” said Teri Siciliano, of Altamonte Springs, Fla. “The whole process was so much easier and less terrifying than getting everything to a place where we buy gold.”
“People looking to sell jewelry are often at a low point,” Gerardi said. “They are facing death or divorce or are in need of money.” While I’ve been in each of these tricky places, luckily I wasn’t in one last week when I invited Gerardi to walk me through the process of sorting out my family jewels.
If I could afford anything, what would my house look like?
What I wanted to understand, when I was still of questionable clarity of mind, was what to keep, sell, or throw away, and if I had anything worth anything.
I spread my mishmash of jewelry on the table between us. I stabilized when the flashbacks hit. I have jewelry from my mom, my grandmother, and boyfriends from a very long time ago. I found tiny gold earrings that I wore in high school, my class ring, a sorority pin. Why? Ninety percent of this stuff I would never wear. But somehow, like every other woman reading this, I bet I’ve amassed an entire drawer full of old jewelry that I don’t know what to do with.
What I do know is that I want to reduce it in a thoughtful way and not leave a mess for my kids. I don’t want to hang on to worthless, worthless coins that I’ll never wear, but I want to cash in anything that’s valuable, but not for myself. And I want to narrow the collection down to what makes sense, what I like and what I’m going to wear.
This is where Gerardi can help. Here’s what she recommends:
HAVE CONVERSATIONS: Before liquidating family jewels, ask family members what they want now or later. Don’t sell anything of value that is part of a will or court case.
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GET REAL VALUE: Misunderstandings arise when people do not know the difference between appraised value and cash value. An appraisal gives you a price, usually high, for the cost of replacing the item if it was lost or stolen. This is useful for insurance purposes. An appraisal is what a buyer will pay you in cash on that day. They can buy the part to melt it down or resell it. Either way, their bid will be well below appraised value. “The difference can be a shock,” said Gerardi. “Grudges arise when someone has a ring they paid $ 10,000 for and an appraisal that says it’s worth $ 12,000, and a buyer will only give them $ 3,200. Yet, it happens all the time because 95% of jewelry is not worth roughly what people paid for, or what people think they are worth.
MAKE THREE BATTERIES: Gerardi divides jewelry into three groups: costume, sterling and precious metal (gold or platinum). Costume jewelry is virtually worthless. Keep what you like and throw away or give the rest. The same is true for sterling, although you can find a market for it online. The pile of gold is what interests buyers.
LOOK FOR GOLD: In the pile of precious metals, take out whatever you wear and appreciate, which has sentimental value, or which comes from a designer of a luxury brand, like Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels or Cartier. (There are a lot of them.) Designer pieces typically sell for more than their fusion value. The rest can be converted into quick cash.
MELT OR SELL? : Before selling for merger value, consider selling some good quality jewelry or designer pieces yourself on eBay or a consignment site like RealReal. If you think a piece of a lesser brand might have market value, see if it has a name or stamp. Look for it online to see what it’s worth. Some companies will list the items for you and handle the transaction and shipping for a fee. Otherwise, consider selling to a gold buyer.
GET THREE OFFERS: The value of gold depends on the day, and sometimes on the hour. While Gerardi and I were meeting, the price of gold went up by $ 6 an ounce. The price also depends on the buyer. Gerardi suggests getting three deals: ask at a jewelry store, a pawnshop, and a place that buys gold what they would pay in cash. Know how many grams you are selling and compare offers with online gold money calculators.
CHRONICLE WHAT MATTERS: Keep a fine jewelry record with receipts, records and photos. If you own a gemstone, including a diamond over one carat, get it certified by the GIA.
REDEFINE IT: I showed Gerardi a large cocktail ring that belonged to my mother. The gold ring had a swirl of half a dozen (not too pretty) black sapphires curved around a row of five diamonds. It wasn’t my style. I had the diamonds reinstalled in a plain white gold ring, which I wear daily. “What you did was perfect,” Gerardi said. “You want to preserve history, not necessarily the ring. Keeping jewelry in a box is no use.
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Unionized columnist Marni Jameson can be reached at www.marnijameson.com.