By Indra Jhaveri and
Carlo Dino Calescibetta G.G.

Many individuals have acquired estate, vintage and antique jewelry but may not understand the differences between the three categories. For example, vintage items are between 20 to 100 years old while antique items are considered to be more than 100 years old. Estate jewelry refers to high-end pieces that have been pre-owned and costume jewelry is made with non-precious metals.

Often times determining the exact value can be difficult as materials, metals and stones are all quite diverse. A well-informed, knowledgeable individual is essential in providing an accurate assessment and appraisal.

The value of any piece of jewelry is dependent on materials, the quality of manufacturing, the era and condition. As times change, styles evolve — Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco are some examples. Culture influences style, as do new gem discoveries and economic times.
Metal jewelry can be evaluated fairly easily; however, when assessing stones, there are numerous technical factors to consider. An appraiser might need to examine the color to determine whether the stone is natural or synthetic, included or clean. A professional will also determine whether the stone has undergone any heat or radiation treatments. Some stones have fractures filled with glass, and emeralds are often oiled to disguise fractures.

Gems are also valued in many ways. Rubies and sapphires have been manmade since 1890, and synthetic spinel, a common simulant of many stone types, is produced in many colors not found in nature. With the development of synthesis technology, there now are many new offerings including coatings on quartz, topaz and glass.

Synthetic diamonds are now available in jewelry, and diamond coatings are offered on stones to increase durability.
Pearls have been imported for thousands of years and cultivation of these sea beauties has been evolving more than 100 years. Before that, true pearls were only found in the wild seas and considered extremely rare. Cultivation has made pearls available to all, and Chinese freshwater pearl production has exploded to the point that the market is flooded with inexpensive pearls made of glass, plastic and shell. Rare pearls from areas like Tahiti and the South Seas maintain higher values based on size, color, quality of luster and shape.

Costume jewelry has established value because during the Depression, high-end jewelers such as Miriam Haskell, Coco Chanel and even Matisse developed their own costume jewelry lines. The value of costume jewelry depends on materials, quality of manufacturing, design and rarity.

There are several U.S. laboratories that offer expert gemstone identification and quality analysis.

The Gemological Institute of America, considered the industry leader, originated the “4Cs” diamond grading system, which has been adopted worldwide.

Other labs of note include the International Gemological Institute and the American Gemological Laboratory and European Gemological Lab.

All jewelry has value, even if the primary value is sentimental. When having jewelry appraised, it’s important to entrust this job to an experienced, accredited expert to determine the value of these personal treasures.

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