How Can I Tell If My Jewelry is Valuable?

man examining jewelry

The aphorism “All that glitters is not gold” has been with us for centuries.

The exact phrase comes from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, but people have been using some form of the saying since at least the 12th century.

However you say it, it basically means “Some things in life are too good to be true.”

While we are not the Merchant of Venice but as Bucks County jewelers – we take the saying literally. A lot of what seems like valuable gold jewelry is really an imitation, just as seemingly simple pieces are sometimes quite valuable.

Maybe you’ve come across a piece of jewelry that you’re not sure about, something you inherited from a distant relative or picked up at a garage sale. There are a few things you can do to determine whether what you’ve found has any value.

1. The hallmarks of good jewelry

Hallmarks on a piece of jewelry are markings that can tell you their level of quality. They can typically be found on the inside of a bracelet or ring, the clasp of a necklace or an earring’s post. They can tell you the metal make-up of the piece, as well as where it was made and who made it.

For gold pieces, look for hallmarks such as 10K, 14K and 18K, along with 375, 585 and 750. On silver pieces, the hallmarks to watch for are “silver,” “sterling” and 925 and 800. And with platinum, look for “PLATINUM,” “PLAT” or 950.

Other fine jewelry hallmarks include Cartier, Tiffany & Co and Tacori. If you see any of these, have them appraised for authenticity.

These are just a few of the hallmarks you might find, but the bottom line is that any hallmark will usually indicate you’re dealing with higher quality jewelry.

And if you don’t see any hallmarks but the piece still looks like it might be antique, you might want to start sourcing Bucks County jewelers to have it appraised.

2. The proof is in the prongs

With many costume jewelry pieces, stones are simply glued into place. Fine jewelry will feature better craftmanship, with stones held in place with prong settings. And even vintage costume jewelry that uses prongs to keep the stones in place can still be valuable, as long as it’s in good shape.

3. The weight of good jewelry

Real gold and silver are typically going to be heavier than metals like brass (which resembles gold) or pewter (which is silvery but not actual silver). If you have two gold-colored chains, compare how they feel. The lighter is likely imitation or hollow gold.

The look is important here as well. When solid, authentic gold begins to wear down, it will still appear to be gold all the way through. When white gold wears down, you’ll see darker colors showing through. Generally speaking, the heavier the piece, the more valuable it will be.

Have you been scouting out Bucks County jewelers to find someone who’ll appraise – or even buy – your jewelry? Look no further than Doylestown Gold Exchange.

We’re a family-owned operation with more than 20 years’ experience with precious metals under our belts and a reputation for fairness with all our sales and purchases. And with a graduate gemologist on staff, you can be sure that we have the expertise to determine whether the glittery item you found is in fact gold. Visit our store today to learn more.