Jewel School, Part 1
Today’s Transitions talked to Ashley Davis of Davis Jewelers, specializing in fine jewelry, and Judy Champion of 2023 Vintage Shop, specializing in costume jewelry, who offered a few tips for sorting through your jewelry.
First and foremost, separate your entire collection into two categories: fine jewelry pieces (gold, platinum, or silver and set with real diamonds) versus fashion or costume jewelry (sterling silver, gold and silver plated, brass, and other materials and set with rhinestones). Set aside any pieces you are unsure about into a separate category for guaranteed appraisal.
Determining whether to keep or sell costume jewelry often depends on the designer, quality of the piece, and age of the piece. According to Judy Champion, a quality piece of costume jewelry includes soldered on pins, posts, and clasps that create one consistent piece and individually, hand-set prongs for stones. Some features of a possibly valuable piece of costume jewelry include unusual stones like the aurora borealis, which produce a rainbow-colored sparkle, and brooches with an animal motif such as bees, horses, or elephants. Some popular designers and brands include Miriam Haskell, Weiss, Ciner and Bakelite. Judy advises customers to look for markings on their costume jewelry — “925” indicates the piece is sterling silver and “GF” for gold filled.
“Bakelite is a plastic that was created in the early 1900s for more utilitarian purposes like electrical appliances, light switches, and toaster handles,” Judy says. “During the Great Depression they turned it into jewelry and sold it at the dime store for a dollar or two. Now it is extremely collectable and something that many people would probably overlook when cleaning out their jewelry. You may think it’s just a piece of plastic, but a simple bangle can sell here for $35 and some up to $750.”
By Emily Gahafer | Photos by Melissa Donald