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Don't be a fool about the family jewels...

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

One of the biggest mistakes I continue to see in the estate sale & auction world is what people do with their family’s jewelry. There are many reasons these mistakes keep happening, but I am going to focus on What I call The Big 4 and the actually apply to most of the valuables in an estate.

1. 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Let’s say, you’re not in to jewelry like you mother or grandmother was, so you see it as old fashion, outdated or passé.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, Edwardian, 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.

2. 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.) Or they don't care as they have "real estate blindness" as I call it. Meaning they just care about selling the real estate as it's "the big ticket" item and sometimes, just sometimes, they miss the real treasure.

3. The Trusted family adviser...

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.” And let me say, these people do exist, so I don’t want to cast a bad light on them, or paint with a broad brush; however, a second and third opinion no matter who it is, is recommended. The people may suffer from "human nature" and take advantage of the situation.

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 to the charity, herself and for them, out of the “goodness” of her heart.

I asked if we could just take a look, just to make sure there wasn't anything special or something they may have missed. If her eyes could have shot daggers, I would have been dead on the spot. Not wanting to make a scene, we waited until she left and talked to the son. I just wanted a look. Low and behold, it was all 14 karat and 18 karat gold designer jewelry.

In the end, we sold it for the family and if memory serves me correct, its was approximately $30,000. Not bad for "gaudy costume."

4. The smart one in the family...

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.

Okay....I hope this helps and doesn't terrify you. 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.

Until next time...

PS - Dad's Cuff Links, Tie Tacks and Stainless Steel "unknown" Brand Name Watches might be hiding Treasure too !




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