The million dollar question….What’s my jewelry worth?

The million dollar question….What’s my jewelry worth?

What is my jewelry worth?

One of the most common questions about jewelry is also one of the most difficult to answer: “What is my jewelry worth?” Whether the the jewelry is a family heirloom passed down, or a lucky find at a swap-meet, knowing the value of our jewels is a strong desire. However, to properly answer the question of what jewelry is worth, we need to understand what “value” actually is.

Sentimental value Vs. Monetary value

No item has an intrinsic value. All forms of value come as a relationship between the item and how it interacts with the people around it. Much of that value can not be directly expressed as an amount of money. The emotions we feel when wearing jewelry, or when seeing others wear it, or the pride we feel in our own collections, are all examples of value that jewelry has to it’s owner. Monetary value also relies on these relationships and comes in two primary forms: Jewelry Replacement Cost and Jewelry Trade In Value.

Jewelry replacement Cost

Jewelry Replacement Cost is exactly what it sounds like; the cost to make or acquire a new jewelry item as closely identical to the original jewel as possible. This is the value that is placed on jewelry insurance appraisal documents as it informs the insurance company as to the amount of money needed to replace the jewelry if it is damaged, lost, or stolen. Jewelry replacement cost is the sum of the cost of materials and labor and is typically the type of monetary cost with the highest numerical value.

Jewelry Trade In Value

Jewelry Trade In Value, on the other hand, is what a jewelry store is willing to pay a customer for a piece of jewelry. This is always a much lower value. Often, the labor that went into making the jewel is ignored and only the value for the raw materials (gold,gemstones,diamonds,) is given. For this reason, and because sometimes the intention is to melt down the gold material, this is often called the “Gold Scrap Value”. The most notable exception to this comes in the form of fine swiss watches, where the craftsmanship is far more prized. In all situations, however, the Jewelry Trade In Value represents the lowest numerical value of the jewelry piece.

Jewelry Retail Cost

So where does the Jewelry retail price come in? Somewhere in between. Although it will often be close to the Jewelry Replacement Cost, the Retail Cost usually does not need to account for the extra labor of attempting to exactly duplicate an item. Jewelry Sales and incentives may drive the price down lower, but never below the Jewelry Trade In Value. A store that sells below Jewelry Trade In Value, or buys above it, is losing money and will not be in business for long.


Of course there are a few exceptions. Jewelry Clearance sales may sell at a loss out of the necessity to create space. And on the other side of the scale, vintage watches for which parts are no longer available may not even have a replacement cost on account of being irreplaceable.


Fundamentally, any  monetary value comes down to the connection a person had made with the jewelry item, whether it is a symbol of eternal love, a reflection of one’s faith or something so unique the purchaser  is willing to pay any amount for it.


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