Antique Jewelry Basics

What You Need To Know To Be An Antique Jewelry Dealer

Every piece is unique and tells a story of a different time. They all capture the spirit of history, craftsmanship, and beauty. Those with a keen interest in history and a discerning eye for unique items may find dealing in old jewelry an engaging endeavor and a financially rewarding career. Many careers happen as a result of a mixture of hard work and luck, and dealing in antique jewelry needs more than its share of both. But you can’t major in antique jewelry at college, and there’s not much in the way of internships or graduate open days, so how do you even get started in the business? Dive into our “what you need to know to be an Antique Jewelry Dealer.

1. Have The Passion

woman wearing green diamonds necklace

Dealing with antique jewelry isn’t just a job. It goes way beyond that and needs to if you’re going to be successful at it. You need a real love of what you’re doing, to the point where the items you buy and sell are more than just commodities. There are many jobs you can make a lifelong career of, even if you hate it, but dealing in antique jewelry isn’t one of them.

It’s very difficult to fake enthusiasm convincingly enough to show someone that you love what you do. Passion for any subject brings forth a natural flair about it that people will notice and allow them to connect with you beyond a simple financial transaction.

Think about whether you would be happy buying the piece yourself. If not, it may be best to leave it untouched.

2. Know Your Subject

antique Jewelry with box with pearl necklace and candle

It’s all about knowing the basics.

If you try to make a living from antique jewelry but can’t tell a 2-carat art deco engagement ring from a similar-looking paste equivalent being sold on Instagram, then you’ll be out of the business almost before you get started. Trust us when we say you can never do too much research or have too much knowledge about the items you want to buy and sell.

You don’t need to know absolutely everything about every aspect of antique jewelry before getting started. You can enter the trade with a limited scope to your overall knowledge, as long as what you do know, you know very well. If you’ve researched a particular style period or limited your learning just to rings or other items, then just stick to dealing with those while you expand your knowledge.

Learn how to value what you see, learn when someone is telling you something that might not be true, and learn to walk away from a deal that isn’t right.

3. Know Your Market

Antique Jewelry Market showing gold jewelries

One of the most difficult things about buying and selling anything these days is that many people have a broad idea of an item’s value before they walk through the door. As long as they know what grade of diamonds and other stones are present, then the internet will tell them a lot about its potential value. But they won’t know the current pricing trends, the market availability of similar items, or even the fact that provenance and grading certificates can affect the value up or down.

As long as you know how to use the knowledge you have about the current market, then the risks of you being caught out with depreciating prices on pieces you buy will be reduced. There’s no guarantee of anything in antique jewelry values, but the more experience you can acquire, the better your chances of making a living.

4. Check the Item’s Condition

Pliers and broken ring

You should also think about the pieces’ state before you sell them. Even if your beautiful brooch is right on trend, you might not be able to sell it if it’s in bad shape.

Scratching or chipping any piece of metal significantly decreases its value. Rust and rusting will also make it worth a lot less when you try to sell it. Also, you won’t be able to get a good price for it if the clasps don’t work or pieces are missing.

5. Hold Your Nerve

Profit Graph With dollar

A small profit is better than no profit, so don’t overpay for any item just because you like it or the person selling it.

When starting out, you’ll likely bring some stock in from other dealers. This is where a good eye, knowing your subject, and being willing to negotiate will be crucial. Most dealers will realize that selling to another dealer isn’t like selling to the public, and will be willing to discount the price if necessary, especially if it’s on a piece that they’ve had in their catalog for a while.

Unsold pieces are, by definition, loss-makers, so stay focused, stay strong, and don’t be fooled into thinking someone is doing you a favor. You are the one doing a favor when you buy their stock, and it’s important for them to be aware of your knowledge about it.

6. Get rid of the Sentimental Value

Book with necklace pendant earring and band.

After putting together the pieces you want to sell, you should give them a fair evaluation. It should be fairly easy for you to remove any personal value left in the jewelry you want to sell since it won’t hold much importance to you. It will be easy for you to judge their objective worth after you do this.

Because you care a lot about the item, you might think it’s worth more than it really is. It could also make you think twice about any deal that doesn’t seem to match your idea of what it’s worth. When you think something is worth a lot more than it actually costs, this can lead to a lot of problems.

Considering beauty objectively becomes easier when one is not biased or emotional. Check out fashion websites and blogs to see what old jewelry is in style right now. Check to see if you have something that other people might want to wear.

7. Obtain an Appraisal

man checking a gold ring with green gemstone

You should get an appraisal now that you know what you want to sell. You get an evaluation when you take the jewelry to a professional and ask them to figure out how much it is worth. They will use skilled tools and resources to take a close look at it.

With a microscope, flaws in stones can be observed. The expert will look at the stone’s quality, the piece’s style, and the date it was most likely made. Professionals can check to make sure it’s real and give you an offer for your sale.

This appraisal will have specific information about your piece, such as the gemstones, metal quality, and designs. We will provide you with a breakdown of the price so that you can understand the source of the jewelry’s value.

Check our blog for appraisal services GAL and UGL.

8. Professional Cleaning

Professional Cleaning for Antique Jewelry with pink wipe

Fixing a broken item can be worth it, especially if it holds significant value. A lot of the time, it’s not. What you should do next will depend on your evaluation and the conversations you have with experts afterward.

There are good ways to raise the value of something that is whole and in good overall shape. When you come in for a checkup or cleaning, we can polish your gems and keep your metal in great shape. We pay attention to the little things and have tools that let us clean the stone without damaging it.

We can help you fix up your gold and make it worth more. It’s possible that you can sell it for enough money to cover the cost of cleaning it.

9. Build Stock First

antique jewelry showroom

If you have a potential buyer walking past your store, or browsing your website, and you have only a handful of things for sale, there’s a good chance they’ll pass right on by. Popular things naturally attract us in human nature, so we appreciate well-stocked stores for the abundance of items they offer, which leaves a strong impression on us.

The biggest part of setting up any retail business dealing in tangible goods, not just antique jewelry, is having the working capital to get started. If necessary, take time to collect a good level, of stock even if it means only buying quality pieces at the cheaper end of the scale. Prepare to do some legwork when attending estate sales, bankruptcy sales, and house clearances, as these events can unexpectedly reveal surprises.

Diamonds are expensive, so look for alternatives to get you going. Over time, you will make enough profit to start buying bigger and better jewelry.

10. Keep Stock Moving

girl shopping for antique jewelry in a showroom

As we’ve said, unsold stock isn’t making you a penny, so don’t be afraid to take what might initially look to be too small a profit on pieces you’ve had for a while. Also, by “moving”, it doesn’t necessarily mean in and out of the store. Just rotating displays, especially in storefront windows, can freshen everything up very easily and can help to show that you have a good selection on offer.

Networking with other dealers is a good way to know if someone is looking for a particular ring, for example, so if you have one in your catalog a quick phone call can be very beneficial. Most dealers get along with each other quite happily, despite the competition element, and accept that inter-trading is inevitable.

11. Have Good People Around You

people meeting

Most business owners survive not just because they’re good at business, but by knowing who they need to support them. If you’re not a natural marketer, for example, consider employing the services of someone who knows how to promote your business in the best way. Also consider using an accountant, as a good one can save you a lot of money even in the short term. If you try and do your own taxes, chances are you’ll end up out of pocket. An accountant will know how to offset any losses you may experience, and at least keep you going until you have a solid base.

Running a business is a difficult thing to do well, and it takes a lot of investment both financially and in terms of the time needed just to do seemingly routine things. But don’t be downhearted. Many successful companies started with one or two employees and now have multi-million dollar turnovers. From small acorns, mighty oaks truly do grow.

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