Selling Mom's Jewelry

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Topic Author
TravelFund
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2021 8:36 pm

Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by TravelFund »

Hi Everyone! I’ve been a longtime stalker, first time poster. I started my Boglehead journey when my SO and I went to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting when Warren thanked John for all that he did for the investment community. I then moved from a Wells Fargo Advisory account to Vanguard and have never looked back!

I also have never had a chance to thank this community for its advice and perspective – so thank you all.

A little over two years ago my amazing Mom unexpectedly passed—and left me with all her jewelry. She was kind enough to leave me note freeing me of any guilt should I decide jewelry doesn’t bring me as much joy as it has brought her and wanted to sell. She loved gems—the colors, the facets, the science, the art—and as a result had quite a collection.

I’ve recently seen friends and families struggle with too much stuff. And I’ve seen the value in editing stuff. At the end of the day the collection is larger than necessary or practical (larger than a safety deposit box), and honestly its size makes it less enjoyable. There are many cherished pieces that remind me of Mom and make me feel close to her -- and then 5x to 10x more in the collection.

I’m a female in my mid 30s – so I can enjoy many of the pieces (even if it’s just for me around the house). I don’t have children, but I plan on considering my niece/nephew before completely divesting the jewelry. (My brother inherited the matching coin collection which was liquated to go into niece/nephew’s college fund. I would consider my niece/nephew so they could enjoy the history more than feeling a familial financial obligation)

[I also considered a “Can I consider jewelry in a safety deposit box as an emergency fund” post, but I figured you would think I was prank posting. Eventually I realized that was a terrible idea – and I just trying to force usefulness out of the jewelry]

I’m under no grand illusions that this will be a massively profitable venture (although she was buying gold when it was under $300 an ounce) and I understand the sunk cost nature of jewelry. I am, however, often bewildered at the inefficiency of the jewelry market and how hard it is to match buyers and sellers without remelting and remaking items. And that lack of efficiency is making it hard for me to get rid of items. (If I wanted to replace something it would be difficult and expensive to do so). Further, I don’t necessarily “need” the proceeds. I would keep the anything earmarked for the travel fund (a love of which she inspired in me).

Most of the pieces were mass produced, but with 14k/18kt gold.

How would you sell/edit the collection?

1. Hard edit/Quick Sell – Send to Midwest Refineries as if they were gold fillings and don’t look back.
2. Sell online – personally not willing to eBay- but would appreciate any services that you can recommend (e.g., Worthy, replacements.com, Everything but the House).
3. Sell locally – at a jewelry store that handles estates (maybe the same as melt value prices).
4. Give to friends and family.
5. Slow down and give it more time – I may appreciate some of the pieces more over time.

Thanks for your thoughts and perspectives.
aprilcpa
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by aprilcpa »

Jewelry does not take up a lot of space. My vote is for #5. I lost my mother 17 years ago, but did not get her jewelry until my dad passed 7 years ago. A few years ago, I fell down the steps and had to have my wedding/engagement rings cut off. I took the opportunity to have a new ring made using my stones as well as the stones from my mother's wedding/engagement rings made into one ring.
bob60014
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by bob60014 »

"She was kind enough to leave me note freeing me of any guilt should I decide jewelry doesn’t bring me as much joy as it has brought her and wanted to sell."
That's perfect, keeps some of the emotion out of it.

My wife took a couple pieces left by her mother to retain as a memory with the idea of possibly modifying to a design that more suits her. Then she did #3 which worked out well.
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Watty
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by Watty »

TravelFund wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:09 pm 2. Sell online – personally not willing to eBay- but would appreciate any services that you can recommend (e.g., Worthy, replacements.com, Everything but the House).
Good choice about not using eBay. There are lots of threads about how sellers on eBay have no protection anymore and scammers are taking advantage of that. I used to sell stuff on eBay but now I would never sell anything on eBay now that is worth more than about $50 because the risk is too high.

I really do not have any good solutions but until a few years ago I did not realize that they make inexpensive electronic diamond testers that might be useful when you are sorting through lots jewelry to find the real diamonds. I probably would not trust an inexpensive thing like that say for sure that something is not a diamond then it tested negative but anything that it tested positive as a diamond would be worth setting aside in the "good" pile. There seem to be two types, some that cost around $20, and better ones that cost more like $200 that can also test for Moissanite.
protagonist
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by protagonist »

TravelFund wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:09 pm
How would you sell/edit the collection?

1. Hard edit/Quick Sell – Send to Midwest Refineries as if they were gold fillings and don’t look back.
2. Sell online – personally not willing to eBay- but would appreciate any services that you can recommend (e.g., Worthy, replacements.com, Everything but the House).
3. Sell locally – at a jewelry store that handles estates (maybe the same as melt value prices).
4. Give to friends and family.
5. Slow down and give it more time – I may appreciate some of the pieces more over time.

Thanks for your thoughts and perspectives.
If you do not need the money, I would opt for idea number 5.
You are likely to get pennies on the dollar if you try selling it, compared to retail value (you already realize that...good!)
Plus, if I had a dollar for everybody I have known who said they would not have children and then did anyway (including me), I could probably buy your entire jewelry collection with the proceeds. Never say never.

I, mainly just due to inertia, saved all my mom's jewelry, though it was of no use to me. I kept it in a box in the attic- I may as well have put a sign on it for any incoming burglars with a big arrow stating "help yourself". I was really happy I did keep it all when, after saying "no way will I ever marry again" (sort of like "I'm never going to have children" or "I'll never want to wear my mom's old stuff"), I met the woman of my dreams eight years ago. The point being, there is a good chance that if you are anything like me and somebody with a real functional crystal ball told you what your life would really be like 20 years from now, you would laugh your head off.

And if you don't need the money, you may regret selling sometime in the future that might mean something to you. So why sell?
Last edited by protagonist on Tue Jun 15, 2021 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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goingup
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by goingup »

TravelFund wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 9:09 pm Hi Everyone! I’ve been a longtime stalker, first time poster. I started my Boglehead journey when my SO and I went to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting when Warren thanked John for all that he did for the investment community. I then moved from a Wells Fargo Advisory account to Vanguard and have never looked back!

I also have never had a chance to thank this community for its advice and perspective – so thank you all.

A little over two years ago my amazing Mom unexpectedly passed—and left me with all her jewelry. She was kind enough to leave me note freeing me of any guilt should I decide jewelry doesn’t bring me as much joy as it has brought her and wanted to sell. She loved gems—the colors, the facets, the science, the art—and as a result had quite a collection.

I’ve recently seen friends and families struggle with too much stuff. And I’ve seen the value in editing stuff. At the end of the day the collection is larger than necessary or practical (larger than a safety deposit box), and honestly its size makes it less enjoyable. There are many cherished pieces that remind me of Mom and make me feel close to her -- and then 5x to 10x more in the collection.

I’m a female in my mid 30s – so I can enjoy many of the pieces (even if it’s just for me around the house). I don’t have children, but I plan on considering my niece/nephew before completely divesting the jewelry. (My brother inherited the matching coin collection which was liquated to go into niece/nephew’s college fund. I would consider my niece/nephew so they could enjoy the history more than feeling a familial financial obligation)

[I also considered a “Can I consider jewelry in a safety deposit box as an emergency fund” post, but I figured you would think I was prank posting. Eventually I realized that was a terrible idea – and I just trying to force usefulness out of the jewelry]

I’m under no grand illusions that this will be a massively profitable venture (although she was buying gold when it was under $300 an ounce) and I understand the sunk cost nature of jewelry. I am, however, often bewildered at the inefficiency of the jewelry market and how hard it is to match buyers and sellers without remelting and remaking items. And that lack of efficiency is making it hard for me to get rid of items. (If I wanted to replace something it would be difficult and expensive to do so). Further, I don’t necessarily “need” the proceeds. I would keep the anything earmarked for the travel fund (a love of which she inspired in me).

Most of the pieces were mass produced, but with 14k/18kt gold.

How would you sell/edit the collection?

1. Hard edit/Quick Sell – Send to Midwest Refineries as if they were gold fillings and don’t look back.
2. Sell online – personally not willing to eBay- but would appreciate any services that you can recommend (e.g., Worthy, replacements.com, Everything but the House).
3. Sell locally – at a jewelry store that handles estates (maybe the same as melt value prices).
4. Give to friends and family.
5. Slow down and give it more time – I may appreciate some of the pieces more over time.

Thanks for your thoughts and perspectives.
Welcome here! Sorry about losing your mom. Lost mine at about your age so I know it's tough.

Regarding your options:
*I'd keep anything that had sentimental value, or was especially valuable
*Midwest Refineries was an excellent option, at least when I sent off gold jewelry to them several years ago. Search the forum for posts regarding that.
*Giving jewelry away to family and friends sounds like a wonderful idea. It takes more thought than just selling, but a great loving gesture.
*No experience with selling on-line or locally. Not familiar with that.
*Take as much time as you need. Beginning the culling process will be hard, but you may find the process rewarding and cathartic. :beer
HereToLearn
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by HereToLearn »

I would opt for #5.

Also agree with giving away pieces to family members. Your niece may not appreciate your mother's style of jewelry now, but she might in the future. Perhaps your sister-in-law or first cousins?

We gave my mother's china to my cousin, and I loved seeing it during a holiday dinner at her house.

I had the charms removed from my mother's 1960's charm bracelet and now wear one or two at a time on a dongle attached to a long gold chain. I wear the bracelet without the charms, as I knew I would never wear it with the charms attached. My sister had my mother's engagement ring made into a necklace. I had to buy the long gold chain & dongle but it cost almost nothing to have the charms cut off and small gold loops attached to each one. If your jeweler deals in estate pieces, you might be able to trade something to cover the make-up costs or to pay for any new pieces you may purchase to incorporate your mother's jewelry.

I would see if you can find a local jeweler who could offer ideas of current styles incorporating your mother's existing stones.
NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by NotWhoYouThink »

If you said it had been 2 months instead of 2 years maybe I'd say to wait. And of course most of the last 2 years have been spent in Covid isolation, so that may change your thinking a little. But you are not required to keep stuff just because your mother valued it. I have told my kids not to let my "stuff" burden them, that they should feel free to keep, sell, or pitch as they choose. Two years is a lot of time for you to let this decision mature.

After you have separated out the items that you love best, I like the idea of giving selected pieces to family members who knew and loved her, with one caveat - that you don't ask them or even wonder what they did with it. Because maybe they will keep the piece, or maybe they will sell it or toss it.

As for the rest, the local jewelry shop can help you "re-home" it. You'll get some money, although not nearly what she paid. And you can use that money to buy something that is your taste, whether that is a hotel upgrade on a long-delayed trip, or a new bike helmet, or a few more shares of your favorite mutual fund.

Enjoy the memories of your mother, but don't feel burdened by her stuff.
sureshoe
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by sureshoe »

First off, I'm really sorry that you had a loss, I know it's never easy - and it sounds like you had a wonderful mom who collected wonderful stuff. And, she was amazing enough to think about you to leave a note giving you a "get out of guilt free card".

Next - have you considered hiring a jewelry appraiser? If it's worth less than $5k, I might not bother with an appraiser, but if you think there are some worthwhile pieces, you might make a few bucks by spending a few bucks.

You say you don't want to do ebay, which is fine - but have you considered a local consignment shop? That's a popular option, but you're going to take a 20-40% haircut on the price. There are some other online options that specialize in jewelry, but I can't vouch for them.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

The fact that it's a large volume, I would be concerned about theft. Perhaps take the stuff that is of no interest, stuff it in a box and send it off to midwest. You end up with cash, less risk and an easier volume to deal with. You certainly can do this multiple times.
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Topic Author
TravelFund
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by TravelFund »

First of all, thank you for your thoughts and ideas. I find it is helpful to hear how different people think about things to help process what to do.
Mom really tried to help me out with the note— and I am very thankful for that. The note was in an envelope next to the listing of accounts (which I knew she left). I was a little nervous about what family secret was going to be unearthed (maybe too many movies). Turns out it wasn’t a secret—just a little additional love and support.

Maybe there was a little bit of a secret in how much jewelry she had collected. But I should have known. Reflecting back on my childhood- I did think it was a normal Saturday activity to go the gem fair after the soccer game. It was just atypical of our family who drove Corollas (with manual windows). But we all appreciate different things.

I vacillate between thinking I’m creating a problem I don’t need to solve (especially now) and maybe I’m taking forward by doing what I want.
COVID times removed a lot of inertia from my thinking (do I really need to sit in traffic to be packed in a cubical farm to get work done, is this job worth it)—that I think would have been easy go through the motions without considering. I think I’m wondering – did I really just survive a pandemic to schlep jewelry to a new bank because they have a slightly larger safety deposit box?

At the end of the day, I believe the answer is no—and I feel like the size of the collection does contribute some risks that may be worth starting to overcoming the inefficiency of divesting. But you guys have helped me remember it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing. I’m in a very fortunate position that I have time and my hands are not being forced. I can take some time to experiment (send the broken bangle to refineries, save things to remake, gift as it seems right). And trying to cull may make the path forward more clear.

Appreciate the tips about considering an appraiser and working to rework items, as well as the genuine respect, understanding of loss and grief, and the smart advice. I know out of context this may have seemed like a non-problem problem. You all are good people.
psteinx
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by psteinx »

I'm not a jewelry expert, by any stretch. That said...

Solid gold pieces have melt value, as you know, but that's of course going to depend on the weight of the gold. A gold necklace? Yeah! A bit of gold holding a low to medium value gemstone in place? Maybe not so much weight/value.

I think most colored gemstones, other than diamonds and perhaps pearls* and maybe exceptional examples of other stones, aren't worth a ton. They don't cost a ton to buy, and probably resell for even less. I think, in general, the value of a lot of mid-range jewelry for women has been displaced by other ways to show a little wealth and/or style (fancy iPhones, clothing etc.)

*OK, pearls are not gemstones, but still...

The fact that your mom apparently picked up a bunch of this stuff at local gem fairs suggests, again, the value is probably not super high.

As far as realizing what value there is - there's a spectrum. Maximizing prices involves research, effort, and perhaps risk on your part. Everyone values their time a little differently, and moreover, some activities can be FUN for some folks, and drudgery for others.
PoppyA
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by PoppyA »

Gold is pretty high right now leading me to think now is a good time to sell. Will it go higher? Who knows. Call around & get 3 quotes, then go with the highest bidder.
LittleMaggieMae
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by LittleMaggieMae »

Have you cataloged the jewelry? As in identifying the type of gems in the settings? and perhaps what the setting is made from?

I have Tsavorite earrings that one would assume are emeralds for example.

Don't assume you will remember what all the stones/gems are or what the settings are if you plan to set all the jewelry aside for a later date.

I've got a big collection of "costume" jewelry from the 30's and 40's and 50's... most of it is sparkly junk (but it's SPARKLY!!!) - but some of the pieces are Eisenberg, Miriam Haskell, and some truly beautiful well made pieces from the 30's - I've documented the important pieces (pictures with a description) so when someone who has no clue sees the boxes with well over 200 pieces of costume jewelry - they know that 15 of them might actually hold some value - and the rest is most likely only holds value as "curiousities" and "sparklies".

I also have pieces of jewelry I had custom made and I have the bill of sale (which says the type of stones and the materials uses) along with pictures.

I would hate for someone cleaning out my "collection" of cheap sparklies to dump the Eisenberg's and Haskells and the other "designer" or just well made beautiful pieces into the trash when I'm dead. I'm sure at the least they could be donated to a charities re-sale shop - and someone else in the know will find a "treasure". :) And with my custom made stuff - atleast they know what kinds of stones are in the settings - and can make decisions based on that.

I am fully aware that my stuff has little to no value (even my custom made stuff). The mark up on jewelry is outrageous and the resale value pitiful.
LittleMaggieMae
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by LittleMaggieMae »

On another note... perhaps a future generation would like some of the gems or other "stones" - I've witnessing my 30 something and younger friends/relatives shunning diamonds in engagement and wedding rings and choosing other gems. perhaps a gem that has family significance as well as personal significance (their favorite color or type of gem) would make a relative or niece or nephew happy to 'reuse' in another context (engagement/wedding or just for everyday use).
Caduceus
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by Caduceus »

First thing is to ask around to see if anyone would like a piece for memory's sake. I know that when my mom's godmother passed away, she really longed for just one piece of her godmother's jewelry that she could wear, but didn't feel like she had the right to ask for it as she wasn't "blood" family. When my granduncle passed away, his only daughter refused to give me the gold ring that he had promised to give me (even though I offered to pay her three times the market price for it).

It's not the value of the jewelry that matters, but the story behind them. Like, something that your Mom bought with her first paycheck would be quite meaningful. Or something she wore to your wedding. You get the general idea. Stuff is just stuff, unless there's a memory or story associated with it, and then it can help bond people across time and generations of family members.

Before you sell off or gift any pieces, I would also at least photograph the pieces, which doesn't take much time at all.

You might also want to get someone knowledgeable and with no vested interest to look through the stuff. People can miss valuable items all the time because they don't know what they are looking at. When my grandmother passed away, some of my aunts wanted and took a lot of the junk (the gold jewelry), not realizing some of the porcelain pieces and other artifacts were ten times more valuable. They even did strange things like divide gold jewelry by weight (without considering the purity of the gold ... so my mother ended up by accident with half of all the valuable pieces), because some of the heaviest items weren't quite as valuable.
Last edited by Caduceus on Tue Jun 15, 2021 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
psteinx
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by psteinx »

Do younger women (< 35 or so) wear much jewelry these days?

I associate jewelry, to some degree, with formality, and the world has become less formal.

Necklaces, in particular, can be a showplace for a nice, fairly large colored stone or other jewelry assemblage. But it doesn't seem like necklaces are as common. Nor bracelets or rings. And earrings are often very simple things.

But maybe I'm over-inferring from my wife (not a jewelry fan) and daughters (teen and early 20s, but also not big on jewelry).

FWIW, my wife has jewelry from before me, from me, and from her deceased mother. It all mostly sits in boxes and/or drawers. At some point, my wife and daughters may get some jewelry from my mother, a big fan and collector of jewelry, including assorted colored stones. Not sure they'll wear it much, though.

Things change. Less avid stamp collectors in the world today, too, I think...
Last edited by psteinx on Tue Jun 15, 2021 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Topic Author
TravelFund
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by TravelFund »

Psteinx--I agree--most the value of the pieces will be from gold. Especially from the items I'm willing to give up. (I am more likely to keep the higher quality items).

I also think you are spot on the trend of less middle class jewelry. I feel like its even more true of younger generations. I don't know where but I once heard -- the jewelry industry needs to figure out how to sell items that go well with yoga pants and tattoos.

This suggests more of a sending for melt value -- since I don't want the hobby of slowly selling off mom's jewelry. Accumulation seems to be the more fun part of a collection.

I mentally can get around the not getting a lot of money from the items (beyond melt), but I just can't entirely shake the inefficiency. If I have 18 inch wheat chain that is worth X in melt but sells for 3X -- it just seems odd that it has to go back to the manufacturing to get back out in the market. But alas it seems to be the way that it works (and I'm sure there are entities wanting to keep the status quo). Part of me was hoping I was missing some obvious way of getting them back to being beloved objects.

LittleMaggieMae-- Yes mom also left me all the receipts and information. (She also enjoyed Tsavorites) There is a decent amount of custom made items- which I would need to be starving to get rid of at this point. My thought would be to get rid of the lower cost/quality items to make sure the nicer/more unique items could be enjoyed and found good homes. It was a multi decade collection with a lot of variety.
Topic Author
TravelFund
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by TravelFund »

Caduceus -- good reminder on the asking around for memory sake. I can imagine it would be difficult for a non-family member to ask for jewelry when in this particular situation I would be so happy for someone else who knew mom to share. Also I may have to ask in 10 years -- I feel like most people she was a motherly figure towards are just at a busy busy phase of life. Things may change over time.

I have really good records on a lot of the family pieces - from weddings, baptisms, anniversary gifts, gifts from grandmas. I wouldn't be parting with those -- more the QVC and JTV phase. Or where there is essentially duplicates -- two 18 inch snake 14K gold chains.
HereToLearn
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by HereToLearn »

I know you were only using the 18" gold wheat chain as an example, but here is what I am doing with a thick gold chain that had been my mother's. I have very small wrists, so I am wrapping it around three times as a bracelet because while I am not seeing anyone wear thick gold necklaces, I do see layers of gold bracelets: thin, thick, bangle. I see many layers of thin gold chains, but I cannot pull that off because they end up tangled around my neck.

Have you worn any of your mother's jewelry yet? You may find that you become more comfortable with incorporating additional pieces once you wear one.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by LilyFleur »

Every couple of months when I go out to dinner I wear my mother's wedding/engagement ring set. It feels pleasant on my hand (I don't wear it on my ring finger because my fingers are smaller than hers.) And I enjoy looking at it and remembering her. It is not particularly valuable but hugely sentimental.

I also occasionally wear a very flashy Swarovski bracelet that belonged to my beloved mother in law.

I own a beautiful stamp-collecting book filled with a stamp collection from the 1930s and my uncle's war papers from World War II.

A friend of mine sold a lot of my parent's jewelry on ebay for a small commission--the pieces that we did not want. We are keeping some of it that we think our children may want some day.

I don't really have anything but a small box of costume jewelry. Just not into it.
Parkinglotracer
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by Parkinglotracer »

Sorry for your loss … you mom sounds like a wonderful lady. I sold two old 14K rings last year for the gold value. First dealer offered me $75 … the second $450.

So After a while and I am ready to sell I guess I’d get a few offers from some reputable jewelers or gold exchanges.


Must be some high end websites that sell nice gold / gem jewelry but I don’t know what they are.

Best of luck
Topic Author
TravelFund
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by TravelFund »

Hi everyone --

Thank you again for your thoughts an ideas and experiences.

I do wear some of the pieces -- I find I wear rings the most. I think its because I can look down and see it :happy

I've had several of them sized (which makes a differences to me in feeling comfortable wearing). I also find I wear them more when working from home then going into the office-- I find it comforting to look down and see the colorful sparkle. Some of the pieces are meaningful and help me feel closer to her.

However, I have to be careful because I"m not that graceful and my life is full of cooking, cleaning, gardening, working out and other activities that are not a natural fit for jewelry. I tend to wear the more hardy stones for that reason.

There is a good local jeweler near buy who has been helpful with resizing, repairs, appraisals, confirming stone identity, and does custom work and can help remake anything. She doesn't sell estate pieces or didn't have ideas for how to edit.

I truly am hoping to edit so I (an others) can focus on the pieces and memories and not just running around trying safely manage a project. I am truly glad they brought mom joy. I think mom would want me to find the balance (which likely will continue to change over time) of the memories and meaning without being burdened by her projects.

Looks like there are no magic bullets -- but lots of options -- which is fine. I do think the process may be helpful and if it isn't I still have the option of waiting it out. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing.

Thank you all again for your thoughts, perspectives, ideas and experiences.
FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Re: Selling Mom's Jewelry

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish »

My suggestion is inspired by your username. Make it an experience. Set up at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. During the show, there are vendor booth setups throughout the city in motel and strip mall parking lots. This is a unique opportunity to honor your mom as you can share stories with the people who purchase her jewelry.
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