Selling your jewelry?
Not a day goes by that Gemcorp doesn’t receive an inquiry, often many, from a consumer about how they can sell their jewelry and watches. The internet is filled with firms rivaling to get their hands on your previously owned items, which can be incredibly daunting. We’d like to offer a brief discussion on this complex topic, and hope you will find it informative and helpful.
Being primarily an independent appraisal firm, that actually puts Gemcorp squarely in the realm of being an “information business”. Consumers contact us to help them understand the grades and value for their items in the various markets and input on where and how to sell.
Not to be exhaustively detailed, there are generally three ways to go about selling your jewelry and watches. There are some sub-categories for each which hopefully will become clear as we go.
Immediate sale - Just as the name implies, you are paid “on the spot” for your jewelry or watch. Sometimes called a “cash sale”. You never lose control (or sight) of your item. The buyer is taking all the risk on the sale, so it generally is the least amount you will receive. Risks such as the possibility it might have been stolen, is not the authentic brand, has had improper repairs, and market changes between the time it is bought and then resold. Pawn shops have built an industry buying a broad array of consumer goods this way. Jewelry firms typically will pay more than a pawn shop as they have a more refined understanding of the nuances of a particular jewelry item.
Under this category is a sub-classification which we refer to as “semi-immediate”. This refers to firms that throw out “an offer” by phone or email, sight unseen, to entice you to send them your item. They will pay for 2-way shipping and often the offer is a range of price where the high end is slightly above what you would be offered immediately. The problem with going this route is that you no longer have possession, have no guarantee of what amount you’ll receive and have lost control of your item. Most firms are honorable, but final prices usually are well below the upper end of the “offer” and often near the low end of the range. In addition, there have been incidences of items being lost in shipping, and definite concerns that your item may not be the one returned if a deal can’t be reached.
Consignment or Structured Sale – This option could be a major or minor auction firm or even a jewelry store that accepts consignments. With these options please remember that it is not a guaranteed sale for you, but usually a sale does occur. Some auction terms to be familiar with are:
- The Pre-auction Estimate: This is what the auction gallery anticipates your item will sell to the buyer for, but is not a guarantee. This is the figure that will be published in the gallery’s catalogue, The low estimate is, by design, perceived to be a great value, intending to attract lots of buyers. The greater the interest, the more activity an item will receive, which causes bidding activity to go up.
- The Reserve: This is an agreed upon price that is the minimum price your item will sell for. It is a contracted figure known only to the seller and the auction house. As the seller, you have to be comfortable with that amount, less the fees stated in the contract.
- The Hammer Price: This term originates when the auctioneer hits his gavel on the podium and shouts ”SOLD… to bidder #123”. In truth, it is only a reference price. Added to the hammer price is the buyer’s commission, typically 15 to 25%. It is also the figure that the seller’s fee and commission are charged against. Sellers commission and fees usually will fall in the range of 12 to 25% of the hammer price. The higher the sales price, usually the lower the commission to both the seller and buyer. From these fees and commissions the gallery pays for marketing (catalogues and online), salaries, taxes, rent and all the other costs of doing business.
We have found that average auction times, from initial contact to receipt of your check (or merchandise return in the event of a non-sale) to be 3 to 6 months. It is good to remember that an auction is often a bit like gambling in that you can’t be certain of the outcome.
Consider local consignment opportunities. Not all items are auction worthy but may be suitable for a retail store to sell on consignment for you. One local to you is recommended so you can easily keep tabs on the progress. If you have a favorite retailer, discuss the possibility of a consignment with them. The upside with going this route is you can have greater input in the selling price with the retailer. Make certain that the retailer has adequate insurance to cover your item while in their care and that you have a contract clearly defining the terms of your agreement, commission to be paid, etc.
Consider national consignment opportunities, particularly if your item is a desirable brand (Tiffany & Co, Cartier, Bvlgari etc.). Firms such as The Real Real, Poshmark, and Tradesy have built a nice following. They are usually very restrictive about what they will accept and you have less input in pricing. Usually, the longer an item goes unsold will result in a lowering of the price.
Peer to Peer Sale or Private Party Sale: This is where you seek out the buyer; you do the work, you advertise, you make yourself available, you take all the risks. This can often generate the highest price you can get, but not always. The common platforms are eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy and Craig’s List. You can also advertise where you work, worship, or with clubs and organizations to which you belong. Having original bills of sales, appraisals or certificates certainly does help provide the buyer with a level of comfort. If you don’t already have those details (weights, grades, trademarks etc.) about your item, you may wish to seek out a professional to provide that to you. Gemcorp is one such professional! Know too that the buyer may very well seek out the same type of professional, so accuracy and details will help you with the sale.
Please remember that jewelry is highly desirable, liquid and easily converted or sold. The “bad guys” will do their best to separate you from your jewelry. Don’t let unfamiliar prospects know where you live. It is advisable to tell them that the item is stored in a bank safety deposit box. Agree to meet them in a very public place – the waiting room of a police station is always a good choice. Your personal security should always be in the forefront of your mind when selling peer to peer.
A word about appraisals: simply put, an appraisal is a tool to accomplish some purpose or goal. The language of the appraisal document is very telling as to that purpose. The most common appraisal is for insurance replacement coverage, usually meant to make you whole again in the event of a loss, with as nearly a new duplicate as possible. Your item will never be that new value in the resale world. A closer starting point for the value of your used item is known as the fair market value. If you wish to have an appraisal done for a current realistic value for your used item, request a fair market value appraisal.
Full disclosure time – Gemcorp is primarily a gem lab and information service which provides consultations, grading, testing, authentication and identification services to the public. These same services are also used by the wholesale trade. Gemcorp has service agreements with eight firms, most national, who advertise that they will buy your jewelry and watches. If a local consumer responds to one of these firm’s online ad, they are directed to Gemcorp. We are compensated by that firm for our time to inspect the consumer’s property, and handle the required paperwork if a price is agreed upon. There is no cost to the consumer in these incidences. If a consumer wishes to have a thorough understanding of their options and hasn’t been sent by one of these firms, Gemcorp will go over grades and options as part of our consultation service. More about this can be found on our website; Gemcorp Services.
We hope that you have found this informative and helpful. If you would like to make an appointment to discuss this topic further, please call us at 404-851-9489.
Stephen Turner, GG (GIA)