Best Ways to Sell Old Jewelry & Turn Your Heirlooms Into Cash

If you like big bucks and you cannot lie, then our easy tips to sell your old jewelry could just help you maximize your profits.

Published January 22, 2024
Vintage necklaces and jewelry for sale in the antique shop

If you've got jewelry that's just not your style, selling it could actually pay off big time. Getting top dollar is all about understanding the best ways to sell jewelry, especially when you're dealing with vintage or antique items. How you present it (and even the timing of your sale) can matter a lot. We've got some great tips to help.

Look at Your Jewelry Like You've Never Seen It Before

When you sell vintage jewelry, especially if it's a family piece or you've had a lot of good experiences wearing it, it can be difficult to separate sentimental value from what the jewelry is actually worth to a buyer. The key here is to look at your jewelry as if you're seeing it for the first time. What kind of shape is it really in? What would make a buyer think twice before paying for it? What makes it valuable?

Fix Any Condition Issues Before Selling Vintage Jewelry

Over time, things can happen to your jewelry. Little spots of damage can have a big impact on value, though. To get the most for your pieces, it pays to fix any minor condition problems. These might be things like broken clasps, missing beads or gems, serious tarnish, and that kind of thing. If you can fix it yourself without causing further damage, it's definitely worth doing. If you suspect the jewelry might be worth a lot of money, it's better to have a jeweler make the repairs.

Quick Tip

Antique jewelry is an exception here. Unless it's a simple matter of polishing, you're better off leaving the jewelry in its original condition and letting the buyer repair it as they see fit.

Clean Your Vintage and Antique Jewelry Before You Sell

Jeweller hand polishing and cleaning jewelry diamond ring with micro fiber fabric

It's not a shocker if you think about it, but it's not always something sellers consider: clean, sparkling jewelry is always going to sell better than grimy or tarnished pieces. Grab a soft cloth, some cotton swabs, and a gentle dish soap. Depending on the material you're dealing with, you may need to use a silver polish or special jewelry cleaner. Taking the time to clean it in preparation for sale will help you get the most for your jewelry.

Quick Tip

If you plan to sell antique jewelry, you should still clean it gently before you put it on the market. Make sure you're not using anything too abrasive and that you use a light touch (don't scrub or scrape). Avoid soaking antique jewelry because it can dissolve glue or even paste gemstones.

Discover Everything You Can About Your Jewelry

Before you list your jewelry for sale, take some time to make sure you know everything about it. Grab a magnifying glass and look for markings on the jewelry. These will tell you a lot about what you have, including the metal content, the manufacturer, and sometimes, even the age. Don't sell your vintage jewelry without looking for the markings first.

If you notice markings that tell you about the silver or gold content, this is very important. Jewelry made from precious metals has melt value (the amount it would be worth if it were melted down), and it's often going to be worth more than that. Precious metals also mean that gemstones in the piece might be valuable, too.

Related: Silver Hallmark Identification Made Super Simple

Get a Sense of the Value Before You Sell

Once your jewelry is in the best condition possible and you know everything you can about it, it's good to get a sense of what it might be worth. If you're seeing precious metals and possibly gems, consider a professional appraisal. Otherwise, you can usually get a good idea with a little detective work of your own. Look at recently sold items on auction sites that are similar to your jewelry and see what they sold for. Don't compare what someone is asking for it, though, since that doesn't mean a buyer was willing to pay that price.

Related: 9 Most Collectible Vintage Costume Jewelry Brands

Know Where to Sell Vintage Jewelry

Senior woman shopping in an antiquity store

Knowing where to sell antique jewelry is important, too. You can sell it in an online auction or on a classified site like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, but one of the best options is actually local antique and vintage stores. If you walk in with a pretty good idea of what your piece is worth, many stores will confirm your value. They will also sell on commission. You can expect to hand over about 25% to 40% of the sales price to the store, but they will handle all the details of the sale.

Related: Where to Sell Antiques Safely

To find local antique stores that handle jewelry, visit an antique mall in your area. If you don't see any booths that have jewelry like yours, ask at the front of the store about where they would recommend you go. This word-of-mouth referral is better than a web search since you can deal with a store that has a good reputation.

Quick Tip

If you plan to sell your jewelry for its precious metal value, look for local jewelry stores that buy gold or silver. It may take a little longer than working with a pawn shop, but you can feel confident you're getting a fair price.

Selling Vintage Jewelry Is a Simple Process

Just like selling anything vintage or antique, the best way to sell jewelry is by doing your homework and working with a reputable dealer. It's a simple process once you get started, and you've got everything you need to get the best price for your old jewelry.

Best Ways to Sell Old Jewelry & Turn Your Heirlooms Into Cash