Is Your Jewelry Valuable? Here’s a Few Ways to Find Out

Is Your Jewelry Valuable? Here’s a Few Ways to Find Out
  • Opening Intro -

    Whether you're looking to clean out your jewelry collection or just curious about some family heirlooms sitting in your jewelry box, there are ways at home that you can get a clue as to the true value of what you have.

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While getting a professional at a pawn shop or jeweler to give an estimate will give you a more specific price range, you can at least find out if your jewelry is authentic or fake on your own. Here are a few ways that you can do your own amateur examination of your jewelry and possibly discover hidden value in otherwise old or garish pieces.

Read Test

Fake diamonds will give themselves away with what is called the read test. Get a newspaper or other piece of printed text and hold the diamond over it. Cubic zirconia is transparent, so you’ll be able to read the text with ease. Real diamonds refract light in a way that would prevent you from reading the text on the other side.

Take it to a diamond specialist for an appraisal if you’re still not sure. (This is an especially good idea for smaller diamonds that probably won’t respond as well to a read test.) You can also do a scratch test by scratching the diamond against glass. If the gemstone leaves a mark, you can at least be sure that it isn’t costume jewelry, though other gemstones besides diamonds can pass this test.

Nitric Acid

The word "acid" sounds extreme, but nitric acid is actually a great way to check if your gold bracelets, rings, or necklaces are real or not. Make a tiny (and we mean tiny) scratch on the gold, preferably on the inside where it won’t be seen. Then drop a bit of nitric acid on the mark. You’ll know the metal is gold leaf or even just painted if the mark turns green.

Milky coloring means the material is gold-over-silver. Authentic gold won’t change color at all, as gold doesn’t react to nitric acid. The purpose of the scratch is to expose any underlying metal layers that may be thinly overlayed with gold. You can also test your gold by weighing your jewelry to see if it’s in the right ballpark for gold as opposed to other metals.

How Secure Are The Prongs?

Many rings have gemstones that are set in raised prongs. You can get a clue of the quality of a ring’s craftsmanship by its prongs. If your jewelry is costume jewelry, then the gemstone will be set into the prongs with an adhesive, whereas higher quality jewelry tends to be loosely set and held in place with the prongs alone.

Of course, many gemstones will be set with prongs alone, but whether it is loosely set or glued in place can be helpful in telling if the gemstone is actually cheap glass or plastic. Only lower quality or fake gemstones will be set with glue, so checking for this is a great first step in evaluating the worth of your jewelry.

Learn Who Made It

Check for hallmarks as part of your examination. A "hallmark" is kind of like a branding stamp. There are a couple of indicators that you should look for. Hallmarks are particular common in the U.K. where it shows the material’s quality and who tested it. Sometimes a hallmark can also indicate if the jewelry was made for a special event.

Older jewelry, especially, will carry hallmarks of the manufacturer. If you have an older piece of jewelry and it has a hallmark on it, then you’ll want to take it to a jeweler or pawn shop for a professional evaluation, as you may have something valuable on your hands.

While there are many ways to test the quality of jewelry, the most effective way to do this is to have it appraised professionally. However, if you don’t want to take the trip just for a cheap piece of costume jewelry, these tests can be done at home to give you a clue as to the accessory’s true value.

If your jewelry is passing the tests you put it to for high quality, then it could be well worth your time to get a professional appraisal so that you can sell it, use it as loan collateral, or insure it against theft.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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