In our Diamond District storefront, the most common question we probably hear is “what’s this worth?” We always analyze the scrap value of any item brought in, but other professionals will make other considerations. For example, finding a fair valuation for estate jewelry requires a deeper look at the piece and the situation behind the sale. Here, we’ll look at the different types of valuations so you can be better informed when dealing with other precious metal professionals.
As mentioned above, scrap value only considers an item’s worth based on its raw materials after it’s been processed, refined, and recycled. In some cases, not all raw materials will contribute to the scrap value – for example, most buyers aren’t interested in taking small diamonds, or odd cut gemstones. Generally, most consumer scrap jewelry sells for 70-80% of its precious metal value, depending on quality and quantity. At MGS, we’re proud to pay our clients 98-99% of their precious metal.
This applies to items that are only “on the market” for a short time, limiting its exposure to potential buyers. Another way to think of liquidation value is “cash value” – how much ready-cash can an item garner. Not only does the scrap value factor in, but so does the situation of the sale. This value is what pawnbrokers and many jewelers think about when buying used jewelry. Pawnbrokers usually pay 10% or less of that value because they can’t resell your item until the pawn period has expired. Jewelers are more discerning, but they tend to pay a bit more – 10-20% of an item’s scrap value, or more if its high quality and/or it can be easily resold.
Fair Market Value
This is a combination of the value of an item’s materials and its desirability in the most common market. The fair market value is found by estimating the current price for an item of similar characteristics, quality, function, and condition from an establishment selling/specializing other similar merchandise.
Since ancient times, gold stores have been a symbol of wealth, power, and civilization. A lot of gold has been mined over the course of history, and it has all settled in some curious places, not counting trendy jewelry stores. Here are some highlights from gold collections around the world.
During the Russian Revolution of 1917, priceless Fabergé eggs were seized from the Russian royalty and nobility. During this tumultuous period, several of the eggs were lost. Pictured: The Third Imperial Fabergé Egg
In 2004, an anonymous scrap metal dealer was trawling his local bric-a-brac market in the US mid-west, when he found a peculiar jeweled egg. Based on the weight and quick estimate of gem value, he paid $13,302 for it and hoped earn a quick profit by reselling it to the tune of $15,000. Little did he know he was about to get much much more.
But not at first. He was unable to sell the egg – prospective buyers thought he over-estimated the price. But for 10 years, he stubbornly held on to the egg until one day he decided to do some research. The egg contained a watch engraved with the name “Vacheron Constantin.” His query brought him to an article featuring a very dated picture of his egg, and that’s when he learned what he really had.
Wishing to remain anonymous, he contacted Kieran McCarthy, Fabergé expert, at Wartski – the royally appointed jewelers of the Queen and Prince of Wales. McCarthy flew to the US and found, to his great astonishment, that the 1887 Third Imperial Egg had finally been found after all these years. Wartski purchased the egg on behalf of a private collector for an undisclosed amount, but the egg is estimated to be worth at least $30 million.
And it was nearly melted down for scrap! It reminds us of our own story of hidden treasure, but with less historical precedence.