Simple questions do not always have simple answers, but knowing the market value of your antiques, fine art and jewelry is important for many reasons. Are you interested in selling your treasures or do you plan to keep them? If selling, you want to get the highest possible price. If you are keeping them, you want to insure the items to cover the full cost of replacement should they be lost, stolen or damaged.
Every item in your home actually has two values — wholesale and retail. Wholesale value is what you could expect to get for an item should you want to sell it and retail value is what you would insure it for and what you would likely pay in a retail or antique store if you had to replace it. Retail value is typically about 3 times wholesale value, so keep that in mind when you visit a dealer or auction house with an insurance appraisal in hand.
Whether you are keeping or selling your items, their value is always dependent on the market and the collectors who drive it. This often fluctuates with the economy. Generally, value is determined by three attributes:
- Beauty (this is, of course, in the eye of the beholder!)
In most cases, an item must have all three attributes to be valuable. A great example is Sterling silver flatware. Many, if not most, sets have beauty and there are a number of rare patterns on the market. But because lifestyles have changed and people don’t entertain like they used to, there is little demand for any of these sets. Most are worth only the value of the silver itself. One caveat is that quality trumps all. Even an item that is in low demand might have great value if it is in pristine condition.
What are some items that are valuable in today’s market?
- Chinese Items—As the Chinese economy has strengthened in recent years, the Chinese have been buying back many of their native treasures.
- Japanese Items—This market has been very weak for the past 20 years but is just starting to come back. Hang on for a year or two and it should improve greatly.
- Old Miner’s Cut Diamonds—These are diamonds that were cut by hand inside the mines in the 1800s…very rudimentary. They were out of favor for many years because technological advances made modern round cut diamonds much more brilliant. Now old miner’s cuts are wildly popular because they are “recycled.”
Before making decisions about keeping, giving away, or selling items in your home, do yourself a favor and bring in an expert to tell you what they are worth. If you have jewelry, silver, coins or watches, you can get a free evaluation from NovaGold, LLC. For any other items, Peenstra Antiques Appraisals will appraise for a reasonable fee after a free phone consultation.
Steve Gouterman is a gemologist who has been buying and selling diamonds, precious metals, coins and timepieces since 1980. His experiences include import/export, wholesale and retail. He is the co-founder of NovaGold, LLC, which specializes in working privately with clients and their families on strategic sales of their estate and antique jewelry, gems, and coins–specifically determining how to maximize value. www.novagoldllc.com
Through the years, Todd Peenstra has worked with both world-renowned collectors and first-time art and antiques buyers. To each he brings knowledge, perspective and insight, tailoring his advice to meet specific needs and wishes. Todd is also a candidate member of the International Society of Appraisers. From single acquisitions to furnishing entire estates, Todd’s professional expertise, attention to detail, excellent customer service and refreshing enthusiasm are valuable assets to his clients.