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What Makes Jewelry & Timepieces Valuable?


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There are several factors an appraiser looks at in determining the auction value of an individual item.

Age: Was the item designed during a particular period or era in history (i.e. Victorian, Art Deco, etc.)?

Complication: With regard to watches, how complex is the movement? Does it have any specialty features such as a repeater, chronograph, dual time zone, etc.?

Designer: Is the jewelry item attributed to a particular designer such as Cartier or Tiffany? In the case of watches, does a Swiss maker such as Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe or Rolex produce the watch?

Materials: What is the item made of, gold or platinum? Metals carry different values. Are the gemstones precious like diamonds or semi-precious such as citrine?

Provenance: Did the item belong to a famous or well-known individual? Can the provenance be proven?

Quality: Basically, one is looking to make the distinction between fine materials and commercial grade materials. There are a number of observations to make with regard to quality. Are the gemstones lively and bright? Are the diamonds white? Are the sapphires medium blue vs. inky blue? In an item having numerous gemstones, how well matched are the colors? This question also applies to pearls. Is the strand well matched for color, shape, luster and surface?

Rarity: In a material sense, is there an uncommon gemstone type or size (for example a 10.00 carat diamond)?

Size: Is the diamond, gemstone or pearl larger than usual? An example would be a South Sea cultured pearl vs. a seed pearl. Is the pocket watch a standard or common size? Is it over-sized or is it extremely thin such as a tuxedo watch?

Uniqueness: Is the item one-of-a-kind or is it mass-produced?

We regret to inform you that Heritage Jewelry Department:
  • Does not market costume jewelry or hat pins
  • Does not evaluate clocks or comic watches
  • Does not evaluate sterling silver jewelry.
  • Does not evaluate ivory jewelry.
  • Does not market costume or vintage non-precious metal, rhinestone and imitation stone jewelry.

What Makes Luxury Accessories Valuable?
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How do I get my Collection Appraised?
The first step in getting an accurate appraisal is to have the items assessed by a professional. Heritage has been serving the collectibles community for over three decades. During that time we have grown to become the world's largest collectibles dealer by staying on the cutting edge of technology, emphasizing great communications and, above all, listening to what our customers want and then giving them a fair deal on their material. With the agreement of your Heritage representative, Heritage can provide insurance on overnight delivery for your package. Contact us today to discuss a free auction evaluation.

For a formal written appraisal for estate planning, insurance, or tax purposes, please contact our Appraisal Services Department. Charges for formal written appraisals are based on our experts' time. Appraisal fee schedule can be viewed here.

Sell Now or Consign to a Heritage Auction
We are always looking for quality Jewelry & Timepieces to purchase or auction. We'd love to talk to you about your collection, your buying and selling needs, and how Heritage can work for you. Call or email us today if you would like our experts to help you in determining the best options for your collection. Learn more...

Headshot photo of Jill Burgum

Meet our expert: Jill Burgum

Senior Director, Fine Jewelry, Dallas
1-877-HERITAGE (877-437-4824)  x1697

View Biography

Jill Burgum, Senior Director of Fine Jewelry for Heritage Auctions, brings a wealth of jewelry expertise to the company.

A graduate of University of Hawaii at Manoa, Ms. Burgum received her B.A. in Art History. After completing her degree, she attended Bowman Tech and Stewart's International, both for training in jewelry manufacturing and repair, then the Gemological Institute of America in Santa Monica, California, where she completed degrees in both Graduate Gemology and Jewelry Design in 1994.

Ms. Burgum began her working career as an on-call preview worker for Sotheby's Beverly Hills, California. She then moved to San Francisco as a jewelry cataloguer for Butterfield & Butterfield Auctions in 1996, transferring to their Los Angeles Jewelry department in 1997 as lead specialist, which she eventually left to build two jewelry web sites for start-up companies. She has also worked in retail jewelry sales and owned her own independent jewelry appraisal business.

She has been a contributor to Art + Auction, Brilliant, Eclat, Modern Jeweler, MSN Money, and Rapaport magazines.

Ms. Burgum has been a guest lecturer for the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, Gem & Mineral Council, and appeared as a specialist on HGTV, KTLA, CNN, FOX Business and ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

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