Don’t be a fool about your mother’s jewels

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Collecting Treasures: Get a second, and in some cases a third, unbiased professional opinion when it comes to your loved ones’ jewelry and collectibles

One of the biggest mistakes we continue to see in the estate auction
business is what people do with their family’s jewelry.
There are many reasons these mistakes keep happening.

Just don’t know

Let’s say, you’re not in to jewelry like you mother or grandmother was, so you see it as old fashion, outdated or passé. Some turn-of-the-century, Art Deco and French Art Nouveau jewelry are the most highly sought after. Also, European Hallmarks such as .750 and .585, which mean 18 karat gold and 14 karat gold, are strange here in the states and therefore missed by the layman.

636023343021287065-Antique-Platinum-Diamond-Ruby-Art-Deco-Ring

Antique Platinum Diamond Ruby Art Deco Ring
(Photo: J. Levine Auction Appraisal)

Just don’t care

Many times, mom’s jewelry box is overlooked as it’s deemed costume jewelry; not knowing some vintage costume is quite collectible. For many, it’s the same reasons as above or just overlooked by a male heirs. Let’s call them Dudes. (I am in their clan.)

Trusted family adviser


636023345853485220-Platinum-and-Emerald-Cut-Diamond-Engagement-Ring---2
A family friend offered $4,000 for this platinum and emerald-cut diamond engagement ring,
but it sold at auction in 2015 for $9,500. (Photo: J. Levine Auction & Appraisal)

Here’s one that makes me crazy. When people are dealing with the loss of a loved one, they are overwhelmed, most understandably, and rationale can be thrown out the window. Enter the “trusted family adviser,” neighbor or “good friend.” These people do exist, so I don’t want to paint a bad light on them with a broad brush; however, a second and third opinion no matter who it is, is recommended.

I have seen these people do amazing things when large sums of money and even a few hundred dollars are involved.

One of my favorite experiences was with the family realtor who was going to help the son donate the “gaudy costume jewelry” to the local animal shelter’s thrift shop. She had it all piled up by the door to take herself out of the “goodness” of her heart.

We asked if we could just take a look and were shot daggers by the woman. Not wanting to make a scene, we waited until she left and talked to the son. We just wanted a look. Lo and behold, it was all 14 karat and 18 karat gold designer jewelry.

In the end, we sold it for approximately $30,000.

The smart one in the family


636023348254496611-Fine-Antique-Shell-Cameo-in-Brooch-with-Pendant-Frame
This fine antique shell cameo brooch features a non-precious metal frame,
neither silver or gold, and sold for $225 at auction in 2014. (Photo: J. Levine Auction & Appraisal)

This is the one sibling who knows what mom or dad had, and the others don’t. In tennis terms, “advantage, bad kid.”
I have seen this in antiques, collectibles and so often, jewelry. It’s where one sibling knows everything about the item, or they are married to an expert.
Things like “we just want this little old thing” and “mom wanted me to have this” can be the signs of that’s the piece or pieces worth all the money.
I’m not looking to start family fights, but rather to urge you to get a second, and in some cases a third, unbiased professional opinion when it comes to your loved ones’ jewelry and collectibles.

Josh Levine owns J. Levine Auction & Appraisal in Scottsdale. Contact:josh@jlevines.com or @jlevines1 on Twitter.

Read this article on AZCentral.com

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