A Guide to Inheriting Jewelry

A Guide to Inheriting Jewelry

Inheriting jewelry can raise a lot of mixed emotions. As you grieve over the loss, receiving a treasured heirloom may provide some comfort in a time of sorrow. While looking over the pieces, you may be confused about what to do with them. Should you keep them for yourself, scrap them, or sell the entire inheritance? Don’t rush into your decision; we’re here to help.

Keeping What You Want: Sentimental or Personal Value

Heirloom jewelry often comprises pieces with stories to tell or conjures up memories of a relative. If you can’t bear to part with something that holds personal significance to you or your family, keep the jewelry for yourself for a future inheritance, as a gift, or to wear.

Wear it Yourself

Well-made jewelry can last many lifetimes, and an expertly crafted mens diamond ring may even look as new as the day your relative purchased it. If a piece of jewelry is in good condition or only needs a shine or a new, tighter mount, wear it yourself after it’s been repaired.

Save for a Future Inheritance or Gift It

Your son, daughter, or other relatives may appreciate owning an heirloom that’s stayed in the family for generations after you pass, or they may prefer to keep that item right now.

Deconstruct it for Another Piece

Jewelry trends come and go. Sometimes that unique gold necklace will fit right in with a modern aesthetic, but more often than not, it’ll need a few tweaks. If you’re not too attached to your inheritance, ask a custom jeweler to design a new piece from its components.

Selling What You Don’t Want: Appraisals and the Marketplace

Jewelry that provides no meaningful value to you or another family member can be sold, but some people may feel guilty about selling inherited items. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, as it’s better to sell unneeded pieces and use the money elsewhere. With those added funds, you could put a down payment on a house, send your kids to college, or create new memories.

If you’ve made the decision to sell your inheritance, it’s crucial that you do it right. Many “Cash for Gold” establishments will buy your jewelry for next to nothing, so avoid those places at all costs. To know the actual value of your items, be sure to get them appraised before selling.

Getting an Appraisal

Seek out an antique jewelry appraiser from a professional organization, like the American Gem Society, to complete the process. Most appraisers will charge $50-$150 per piece, but you may get a discount for a bulk appraisal. Jewelers may evaluate jewelry in your presence. If that’s the case, ask them to agree to this preliminary value if your pieces are lost or damaged.

Scrapping Inexpensive Jewelry

Sometimes a portion of your inheritance may include costume jewelry or small pieces that don’t hold significant value. If an appraiser states that the value isn’t worth the cost of an appraisal, you can scrap it for metal and gemstones at a jewelry store to earn $50-$100 per piece.

Finding a Buyer

Local jewelers may not offer the best bang for your buck, so you may want to sell your pieces privately. Some marketplaces will allow you to sell certified gems or jewelry at a cost higher than what you’d receive from a shop. Determine your selling price based on the market and your appraisal. Keep in mind that you’re unlikely to receive the total appraisal amount when selling.

Secure Your Inheritance

Don’t keep your jewelry on you while selling, as you could leave yourself open to theft or burglary. It’s better to put your items in a secured facility, like in a safety deposit box, to prevent a future incident. If you’re transporting your jewelry overseas, find a company you trust and insure your package if it gets lost, damaged, or stolen from the delivery truck.