Professional Jeweler Archive: Ins and Outs of Pre-Owned Jewelry

March 2000

Managing/Estate Jewelry


Ins and Outs of Pre-Owned Jewelry

You and your customer should both understand what you want


If someone comes into your store and wants to sell a piece of estate jewelry, the first question to ask is “Why do you want to sell it?”

Jewelers attending a joint meeting of the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Northern California Chapter and the American Gem Society’s Northern California Guild recently heard this advice from two experts. “Those who say they don’t need the money are the ones who are most eager to sell,” said Lynne Arkin of Apriori Antiques, an antique and estate jewelry store in San Francisco.

Ask whether the person inherited the jewelry or bought it, she said, and then explain the options: sell it, hold it for further appreciation or auction it (and pay a 15% commission on the sales price).

Why Do You Buy?

When you’re buying a piece of jewelry from a customer, do you want it for scrap or to resell? “Occasionally, a piece comes along that makes you salivate,” says Mark Ebert of Ebert & Co., Los Angeles, a supplier of antique and estate jewelry. “You have to figure out how much you can sell it for then make an offer.”

It’s important to know what types of antique and estate jewelry your customers will buy. Garnet and moonstone are popular gems in this type of jewelry. “I even have one who collects any jewelry with an iris on it,” said Arkin.

Don’t be scared off by pieces that have been modified, such as a remount or a new clasp, said Arkin. “These still have value to collectors,” she says.

Internet Involvement

Some retailers show estate jewelry on their Web sites, but few sell much of it on-line. “People like to touch and feel estate jewelry,” Arkin said. Ebert agreed, citing a friend who calls the Internet a tool to get customers into the store. This suggests jewelers with an estate business should promote it on-line as one more way to lure customers.

– by Jack Heeger

Pros and Cons of Estate

In material provided to jewelers who attended the meeting, Mark Ebert listed these advantages and disadvantages of starting an estate jewelry business:

Advantages
  • Allows for horizontal growth.
  • Provides increased profit margins.
  • Offers increased cash flow.
  • Broadens price-point range.
  • Distinguishes your store from your competitors.
  • Short-circuits customers’ attempts to comparison-shop.
  • Boosts excitement of selling jewelry.
Disadvantages
  • It’s not easy to plan a budget or even plan buying estate jewelry.
  • Selling period jewelry requires education for you and your staff.
  • Selling the jewelry of a good customer can be a sticky situation.
  • Customers who buy something in your store may want to sell it back to you.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications