Did You Inherit Estate Jewelry? 10 Things to Know (Including How to Sell It)

Did You Inherit Estate Jewelry? 10 Things to Know (Including How to Sell It)

The passing a loved one is an emotional time, and people are rarely of the state of mind to make the best financial decisions. Unfortunately, it’s one of those forced decisions that comes with such an occurrence – the settling of an estate. And if your loved one (usually a parent, grandparent, or older sibling) accumulated jewelry over the years, what to do with that old gold, silver, platinum, diamonds, and gemstones is a question that needs to be dealt with when it comes to the estate.

Taking your time with the process is always a good idea, so you don’t make too emotional of a decision and just sell everything off for much less than it’s worth. This may also deprive interested parties from obtaining family heirlooms or pieces that remind them of the person. Maybe a brooch your grandmother wore all the time, or a ring that has been passed down for generations.

While it’s up to the individuals inheriting the estate to deal with the valuation on items being kept, you can always get an appraisal for them and make sure they are valued appropriately. Some items can then be kept, and others may be sold off.

Especially when people lived through times when gold was much cheaper (essentially pre-2000), the value of accumulated jewelry can be substantial. It’s not as if every piece is special either. Casually purchased necklaces, bracelets, or rings when prices were low are often worth hundreds of dollars now.

Many of these treasures come with a rich history and significant value. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the various aspects of inheriting estate jewelry.

various silver items you may find in an estate

1. Valuation and Appraisal

One of the first steps after inheriting estate jewelry is determining its value. This often involves getting a professional appraisal to understand the market value of the pieces. Certified jewelry appraisers can provide a detailed assessment, considering factors like the type of metal, quality of gemstones, and overall craftsmanship. Accurate valuation is crucial whether you plan to keep, sell, or insure the jewelry.

While you can get a good idea of what it’s worth yourself by using some of our resources like our gold value calculator or by learning how to calculate the value of scrap gold, these will only help you with the intrinsic value of the gold. Which is fine, in most cases. But if you have some antique jewelry, or jewelry made by sought-after brands, then you’ll want a professional evaluation (which we can also provide).


2. Identification and Authentication

Identifying and authenticating estate jewelry is essential to verify its origins and materials. Many pieces may be vintage or antique, requiring a keen eye to determine their era and authenticity. Professional jewelers or gemologists can help you identify gemstones and precious metals, ensuring you understand the true nature of your inheritance.

Of course, this gets a bit more complicated with diamonds, where slight changes in the composition of the piece can have a dramatic impact on its value. Pricing them is less straight-forward, so having an expert look at them is important. Of course, we’re also certified Diamond experts and can help you know what you have and what it’s worth, even if your diamond doesn’t have a certification.

Diamond Ring from an Inherited Estate

Authentication adds to the jewelry’s value and historical significance. In very rare cases, it may be worth putting certain pieces up at auction or listing with a professional dealer. In the vast majority of cases, when jewelry is worth a few hundred or a few thousand dollars each, a company like ours or a trusted dealer can handle the transaction effectively.

3. Selling Options

If you decide to sell the inherited jewelry, exploring the best selling options is vital. Options include selling to a jeweler, through an auction house, or directly to buyers via online platforms. Each method has its pros and cons regarding potential returns and ease of sale. Researching these options thoroughly can help you make an informed decision that maximizes your profit.

Selling to a Cash for Gold Mailer


  1. Convenience: Quick and straightforward process.
  2. Fast Payment: Payment made within 24 hours of an approved offer.
  3. Expert Evaluation: Professional appraisal of the jewelry’s worth.
  4. We Buy it All: We don’t just buy your best pieces or pieces that we want like jewelers or auction houses. We’ll make you an offer on everything with intrinsic or collectible value.
  5. Security: No need to worry about fraud – all our transactions are fully insured.


  1. 2-3 Days: If you need the money today, we can’t help you. But our overnight shipping and immediate payments mean you’ll get paid within a couple days.
  2. No Auctions: We buy direct and do not offer auctioning services.

Want a free, no obligation appraisal from us? Request a free mailer now!

Selling to a Jeweler


  1. Convenience: Quick and straightforward process.
  2. Immediate Payment: Instant payment upon agreement.
  3. Expert Evaluation: Professional appraisal of the jewelry’s worth.
  4. Security: No need to worry about fraudulent buyers.


  1. Lower Offers: Jewelers need to resell at a profit, so offers may be lower than market value.
  2. Limited Market: Jewelers might be interested only in certain types of jewelry.
  3. Less Competitive: No competitive bidding to drive up the price.

Selling Through an Auction House


  1. Potentially Higher Prices: Competitive bidding can drive up prices, especially for rare or high-demand pieces.
  2. Expert Marketing: Auction houses often have a wide reach and can effectively market high-value items.
  3. Credibility: Established auction houses provide a level of trust and professionalism.
  4. Appraisal Services: Auction houses typically provide appraisal services, ensuring items are valued correctly.


  1. Fees: Auction houses charge commission fees, which can be substantial.
  2. Time-Consuming: The process can take several months from consignment to sale.
  3. No Guarantee of Sale: There’s a risk the jewelry might not sell or may sell for less than expected.
  4. Less Control: Sellers have less control over the final sale price.

Selling Directly to Buyers via Online Platforms


  1. Higher Potential Returns: Selling directly can eliminate middlemen, potentially resulting in higher profits.
  2. Wide Audience: Online platforms can reach a global audience.
  3. Control Over Pricing: Sellers can set their own prices and negotiate directly with buyers.
  4. Flexibility: Sellers can list items at their own pace and convenience.


  1. Time-Consuming: Managing listings, responding to inquiries, and handling transactions can be labor-intensive.
  2. Risk of Fraud: There’s a higher risk of dealing with fraudulent buyers.
  3. Shipping and Insurance: Sellers are responsible for securely shipping items and obtaining insurance.
  4. Platform Fees: Online platforms often charge listing fees or a percentage of the sale price.
  5. Market Saturation: High competition on online platforms may make it harder to sell items quickly.

4. Restoration and Repair

Estate jewelry often requires restoration or repair, especially if it has been worn or stored improperly over the years. That is, if you either want to keep it, or sell it at a premium at an auction house or private platform. If you’re just selling it for its value, or the cost to restore and repair wouldn’t significantly affect the price (which is most cases), then you’re probably just selling it directly to someone like us.

Finding a reputable jewelry restorer who specializes in vintage or antique pieces is crucial to preserving their beauty and value. Proper restoration can breathe new life into old pieces, making them suitable for modern wear or sale.

5. Insurance

Insuring your inherited jewelry is an important step to protect against loss, theft, or damage. Obtaining an insurance appraisal, which might differ from a market appraisal, ensures you have adequate coverage. Various insurance policies cater to valuable jewelry, so comparing options can help you find the best policy to secure your treasures.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group specializes in jewelry, but even large insurers like GEICO, State Farm, and Liberty Mutual offer policies.

Of course, this is really only if you’re inheriting extremely valuable jewelry.

6. Legal and Tax Implications

Understanding the legal and tax implications of inheriting jewelry is essential. Estate jewelry can be subject to inheritance taxes, and navigating these laws can be complex. Consulting with a legal expert can help you manage any tax obligations and ensure proper documentation and compliance with local regulations.

old 14k gold ring


7. Historical and Family Significance

Many pieces of estate jewelry carry historical and family significance. Researching the history of your jewelry can uncover fascinating stories and connections to family heritage.

When my grandparents passed away, there were many “oh I remember when she wore this” moments that sparked nice memories from my aunts and uncles. So while the gold and ruby broach she wore to church on Sundays for years isn’t going to impress an auction house, it was one of those things that someone wanted to keep in the family. And so we did!

But there were also many items that had probably been bought in her younger days that didn’t hold any significance to anyone. The cost of a gold watch wasn’t crazy expensive 50 years ago, but selling it for its intrinsic value was worth hundreds.

The important thing is to talk it over with your family, find a fair way to keep things of significance (like still having a valuation done and the value of it taken out of that person’s inheritance), so that you can keep those family heirlooms and keepsakes and get great value for the rest.

inherited 18k gold watch

8. Storage and Care

Proper storage and care are crucial to maintaining the condition and value of estate jewelry. Storing jewelry in a safe, climate-controlled environment can prevent damage. Regular cleaning and maintenance by professionals ensure that your pieces remain in pristine condition.

There is a lot of advice out there, such as how to clean your diamonds with these DIY diamond cleaning tips.

Following best practices for storage and care can prevent tarnishing and preserve these treasures for future generations.

9. Personal Use and Styling

You don’t need to dress like your grandmother to make good use of her vintage jewelry!

Incorporating vintage or antique jewelry into your look can be a stylish way to honor your inheritance. Learning how to wear these pieces safely and fashionably can enhance their personal significance. Modern fashion trends often embrace vintage elements, allowing you to blend old and new seamlessly.

10. Educational Resources

Educating yourself about estate jewelry can be an enriching experience. Numerous resources, including books, online courses, blogs, and forums, offer in-depth knowledge about different jewelry eras and styles. Reading these resources can improve your understanding and appreciation of your inherited pieces, making you a more informed custodian of these heirlooms.

Inheriting estate jewelry opens a window into the past, offering both beauty and history. Learning more about these types of jewelry can help you make well-informed decisions, ensuring your inherited treasures are valued, preserved, and enjoyed to their fullest potential.

If you decide to sell your jewelry, at Cash for Gold Mailer we’d be honored to give you a fast and fair appraisal. We know the selling process can be sensitive at times like this, but we can give you an objective valuation of the jewelry in the estate and provide offers for any of the pieces you’d like to sell. Request a free mailer to get started today!

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