Buy and Sell Jewelry: Ins & Outs for Success

Updated May 3, 2021
Young woman standing in a shop, looking at a necklace

Knowing how to buy and sell jewelry can be useful in a variety of circumstances. Whether you are starting a jewelry collection or looking to raise some money by selling some old or unwanted pieces, buying and selling jewelry can be both an interesting and a rewarding experience.

Why Should You Buy and Sell Jewelry?

The buying and selling of jewelry needn't be just for professionals. There are many occasions when having to buy and sell jewelry, such as rings, pendants and brooches, might be necessary, and knowing the procedures to follow can help ensure that there's a smooth transaction regardless of the reason.


Many people collect jewelry; this can be as simple as someone collecting interesting costume jewelry through to the more specialized world of the collection of vintage or antique jewelry. When starting out with a collection, people begin with quite a broad brief out of necessity. It is only when the collection starts to grow that collectors are able to become more discerning, and this might involve selling some of their original collection to invest in new items. Collectors will buy and sell jewelry through specialist fairs, trade magazines, dedicated jewelry retailers, or auction websites.

Necklaces hanging on rack

Unwanted Jewelry

There are times in life where you find that you have jewelry that you no longer require. This might be jewelry from a failed marriage or relationship, or jewelry that has been bequeathed by a departed relative. Selling jewelry in these circumstances can be a stressful and upsetting experience therefore finding a dealer who is sympathetic is important. Many jewelers with long experiences in the trade will be familiar with the emotional turmoil experienced by people in this situation and will go out of their way to help make the process easy.

Raising Money

Another common reason why people may sell and buy jewelry is to raise money. Perhaps an expensive engagement ring is sold and a cheaper one purchased to help finance a special trip or new car. Making wise selling and buying decisions is necessary to help ensure that the maximum capital is generated from the transactions.

Business Ventures

Creating income from purchasing and re-selling costume or fine jewelry from estate sales, auctions, and other venues can be both a creative outlet and a money-making opportunity for individuals with an eye for beauty and a nose for business. The rise of online marketplaces (like Etsy, Mercari, Depop, and Facebook Marketplace) where individual sellers can share their goods has really bolstered the business of selling vintage and secondhand accessories.

Tips for Successfully Selling Jewelry

Most people want to realize as much money as possible from the sale of an item of jewelry. Here are some common sense tips that will help you achieve this goal.

Get an Appraisal

Use a reputable and experienced jeweler or auction house to appraise the jewelry. This will help to give you an idea of its value. Ask around and ask for other people's experiences, this can help establish the credentials of the jeweler or auctioneer.

Be in the Right Frame of Mind

Don't sell family or sentimental jewelry while you are emotionally upset. This can cloud your judgment and leave you open to being manipulated to make decisions that perhaps are not in your best interest.

Keep Receipts

Keep receipts relating to the original purchase of the item of jewelry and any receipts for cleaning or mending of the item. This can help support the price that you are asking.

Don't Be Afraid to Walk Away

If the jeweler offers you an amount that is way under what you are asking, don't be afraid to walk away. There are plenty of jewelers and appraisers around, it can be worth getting advice from more than one party.

Do Appropriate Research

Don't forget to do your homework! With the advent of the internet it has never been easier to research the value of items. This can be a useful complement to a professional appraisal and is particularly useful with unusual pieces of jewelry. Given your knowledge of the history of an item of jewelry, you ought to be able to compare the value with other similar pieces. Remember that the jeweler will take a commission and therefore the prices you see items being sold at are not what you will receive; however, it will certainly give you a good indication as to your piece's fair market value.

Street vendor sell jewelry in an outdoor market

Tips for Successfully Buying Secondhand Jewelry

Whether you're a collector looking to expand your collection, or are perhaps looking for something special for yourself, buying secondhand jewelry can be an exciting prospect. Here are a few key tips that'll help you successfully buy second hand jewelry.

Buy From a Jeweler

Buy from a specialist jeweler or auctioneer. Although general antique shops or secondhand stores may sell jewelry, a professional jeweler will be able to give you more information about the piece's content and value.

Look Online

Consider buying online. Online auctions such as eBay open up a worldwide market. It is possible to view items for sale from many countries of the world and this can present exciting options. Before buying online, however, do read the vendor's feedback and ensure that you are confident about the purchase before proceeding. If something is marketed as gold for instance, you need to check that the seller is giving you the right authentication information to be sure because you should always be getting the full value for your money.

Do Your Research

Research is a vital element to any sale! As important as it is when selling items to do some research before embarking on the transaction, it is equally important when buying jewelry. Some basic research will give you some good guidelines when looking to buy the perfect piece and will help ensure that do your emotions don't encourage an unwise investment.

Young woman advertising jewelry

Remember to Always Make a Plan

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a potential purchase or sale, but you shouldn't let that excitement cloud your judgement. Before you buy or sell anything, make sure that you have a plan for what you're looking for, where you're going to find it/sell it, and the costs of either choice. Any successful collector or entrepreneur knows that at the center of a good transaction is an educated buyer/seller, and keeping yourself informed will ensure that you make the most advantageous decisions for yourself and your pieces.

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Buy and Sell Jewelry: Ins & Outs for Success