5 Factors That Affect Your Jewelry’s Value

5 Factors That Affect Your Jewelry’s Value

Jewelry appraisals consider several factors before assigning a value to a specific piece from your collection. The type of metal, gemstones, and even the condition and age of the jewelry play into how much it’s worth on the open market.

Whether you’ve inherited a family heirloom or carefully chosen a piece to mark a special occasion, understanding the influences that affect its value is important for many reasons.

In this guide, we discuss the 5 most common factors that affect your jewelry’s value and why. Understanding them can help you make more informed jewelry purchases in the future.

Factor 1 – Type of Metal

The metal used in the jewelry piece is a fundamental factor in its overall worth. Precious metals like gold, platinum, and silver generally have intrinsic value. Superior carat or purity levels command higher prices.

  • Gold is one of the most popular jewelry metals. Its value is determined by its purity (measured in karats), weight, and current market price. Higher karat gold, such as 18K or 24K, is more valuable than lower karats because it contains a higher percentage of gold.
  • Platinum is a dense and durable metal that is rarer than gold. Jewelry made from platinum commands a higher value during jewelry appraisals due to its intrinsic qualities and limited supply.
  • Silver is less expensive than gold or platinum, making it a more affordable option. While it doesn’t have the same essential value as gold or platinum, well-crafted silver jewelry with intricate designs can still fetch a high price on the market.

A sapphire and diamond ring on a woman's hand.

Factor 2 – Gemstones

Next to the type of metal, gemstones are the second most important factor in the appraised value of your jewelry collection. The type, quality, size, and presence of gemstones has a substantial impact on the overall value of a piece.

Here’s a breakdown of how gemstones affect jewelry appraisals.

Type of Gemstone

There are two types of gemstones: precious and semi-precious. Precious gemstones include diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. They command premium prices on the market and earn some of the highest ratings for jewelry appraisals.

Semi-precious gemstones include amethyst, garnets, peridots, and citrine. While they’re beautiful and can enhance the value of a piece they generally have a lower base value.

Gemstone Quality

Gemstone quality is another factor in appraised value. For diamonds, jewelry appraisers consider the four Cs – carat weight, color, clarity, and cut – when determining worth. Diamonds with higher carat weights, better color, and higher clarity are more valuable on the market.

For colored gemstones, jewelry appraisals consider color and clarity. The intensity, hue, saturation, and clarity of the gemstones – plus any slight imperfections – account for the overall rating of the piece.

Gemstone Size

Gemstones are measured in carats. The size of the gemstone significantly affects its overall value. Larger gemstones – especially precious gemstones such as diamonds – are worth more on the market compared with smaller ones of the same type and quality.

Gemstone Rarity

Gemstone rarity and origins play a significant role in overall worth. Rarer gemstones command higher prices on the open market.

Factors that affect rarity of a gemstone include the geographical origin. Gemstones from certain regions may have unique characteristics or historical significance that enhance their value.

Factor 3 – Quality and Craftsmanship

Quality and craftsmanship are integral factors that influence the appraised value of jewelry. The skill and attention to detail that go into creating a piece, as well as the overall quality of the materials used, can greatly affect its worth.

Some of the aspects of quality and craftsmanship that contribute to value include:

  • Attention to detail. The attention given to every aspect of the jewelry, from the placement of gemstones to the finishing touches, is critical. Meticulous attention to detail demonstrates the craftmanship’s quality and can elevate a piece’s overall value.
  • Condition and maintenance. The overall condition of the jewelry, including any signs of wear, damage, or needed repairs, is considered when making an appraisal. Well-maintained jewelry retains its value.
  • Durability and wearability. Jewelry designed and constructed to withstand daily wear and tear is more valuable than delicate pieces that require special care. Durability adds to the longevity of the jewelry, which increases its value.
  • Materials used. Metals, gemstones, and any additional elements like enamel or pearls, greatly increase the quality and value of a piece of jewelry.
  • The precision and skill exhibited by the jeweler in crafting the piece is crucial to its worth. Expert craftsmanship creates well-proportioned, symmetrical, and finely finished jewelry that’s more valuable.

An antique bracelet with rare gemstones.

Factor 4 – Rarity and Uniqueness

Jewelry appraisals always consider the rarity and uniqueness of jewelry when assigning value. These qualities make a piece stand out from the crowd, attract collectors, and contribute to its overall desirability.

Some of the characteristics that earn jewelry a rare and unique classification include:

  • Limited availability. Everyone wants what they can’t have, a desire that extends to limited edition jewelry pieces. Collectors are willing to pay a premium for the opportunity to own such pieces, increasing their overall value during an appraisal.
  • Collectible appeal. Unique or rare jewelry pieces are considered collectibles. Collectors, enthusiasts, and investors are drawn to jewelry that holds the promise of appreciation in value over time.
  • One-of-a-kind jewelry becomes more valuable because it offers a sense of individuality and distinction that can’t be replicated.
  • Gemstone rarity. Rare and sought-after gemstones, such as colored diamonds or exceptionally large gemstones, can increase the value of a piece.
  • Jewelry with an interesting story or documented provenance can increase in value. Historical connections, previous ownership by notable people, or documented journeys make a piece more appealing and unique.

Factor 5 – Condition and Age

The condition and age of jewelry are important factors that impact appraised value. These aspects provide valuable insight into the piece’s history, wear and tear, and overall desirability in the market.

When it comes to the condition of the piece, jewelry appraisals consider the following criteria:

  • Overall state of preservation. The condition of jewelry, including its physical state and any signs of wear or damage, are critical considerations. Well-preserved pieces free from significant damage or wear command higher appraised values.
  • Repairs and restoration. Pieces that have undergone professional repairs or restoration can impact the overall worth. Appraisers must be told when repairs or restoration have happened so they can factor that into their estimate.
  • Original components. Jewelry containing original components such as clasps, settings, and gemstones have an increased value. Replacements or substitutions of original parts, if not disclosed, can lower the piece’s value.

Age also factors into the overall worth of the piece in the following ways:

  • Design and trends. The design and style of jewelry often change over time, reflecting the prevailing trends of a specific era. Vintage pieces of this nature are generally valued higher during appraisals.
  • Historical significance. Some jewelry may have historical significance due to its age, origin, or previous ownership. Historical context greatly enhances overall value.
  • Patina and character. Vintage and antique jewelry can develop a patina over time that enhances their character and appeal. Well-preserved patina adds value.

A jewelry appraiser conducts a jewelry appraisal on an antique necklace.

How to find jewelry appraisals near you

Jewelry appraisals are required any time you plan to insure jewelry from your collection. Insurance companies want to know the overall value so they can recommend the best kind of coverage.

John Thomas Jewelers has a jewelry appraiser on staff with extensive expertise in the appraisal process. Stop by our showroom and request to speak with our appraiser if you need to determine the value of a piece from your collection.

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John Thomas Jewelers

John Thomas Jewelers