Easily Determine If Your New Or Old Jewelry Piece Is Valuable Or Not

14K White Gold Blue Topaz Pear Shape and Diamond Ring
To know or determine the value and worth of a new or old jewelry piece, each jewelry user or buyer will need to have some idea, about the criteria that are generally used for determining the values of jewelries. Jewelries are typically made of gemstones, metals and/or some other type of materials.

Some valuable gemstones include diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires, and some valuable jewelry metals are precious metals like platinum, gold, palladium and silver. Platinum is generally the most expensive out of these while silver is the least expensive.

Know Your Gemstone’s Cut, Carat, Color And Clarity

A gemstone can be natural, enhanced, synthetic or an imitation. Enhanced gemstones are treated natural gemstones, synthetic gemstones have the same properties as natural gemstones but are created in the lab and imitations may look like natural gemstones but are created or made from some other type of materials.

Natural or enhanced gemstones’ values are usually determined by their cuts, carats, colors and clarities. Which may be determined by a gem lab and/or some other reputable institutes like GIA (Gemological Institute of America), AGL (American Gemological Laboratories) and IGI (International Gemological Institute) etc.

*  Cut

Cut refers to how symmetric and proportional a gemstone is, that is, how well it is cut and shaped. The cut of a gemstone will affect how brilliant it is and how much it may sparkle. Natural or enhanced gemstone cuts may be graded as Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor.

*  Carat

Natural/enhanced gemstone weights are measured in carats. One carat equals 100 points, Gemstones of the same weight in carats may have different sizes because of the variations in the densities of different types of gemstones.

* Color

For colorless and near-colorless diamonds, GIA uses a grade from D to Z, that is, from colorless (clear) to light yellow, with colorless being the most valuable. The color grade classification is as follows

D, E, F – Colorless
G, H, I, J – Near Colorless
K, L, M – Faint Yellow
N, O, P, Q, R – Very Light Yellow
S-Z – Light Yellow

Diamonds with D color grades are usually more expensive because of their rareness.

For colored diamonds and other type of colored natural or enhanced gemstones however, GIA uses some descriptive words and terms like “Fancy Vivid” for diamonds, “Bluish Purple” for other types of gemstones etc to indicate their color grades. AGL however uses a color rating from 0 to10 to classify gemstones’ colors.

*  Clarity

Clarity defines how flawless a gemstone is, a gemstone may have some internal flaws called inclusions and/or external flaws called blemishes. The better the clarity of a gemstone the less flawed it is and the more valuable it would be also.

GIA uses the following classifications to define the clarities of gemstones.

*   F
Flawless with no inclusions, that is, no blemishes or flaws, this is very rare.

*   IF
Internally flawless but with some slight blemishes

*   VVS (VVS1 and VVS2)
Very, Very Small Inclusions – clarity grades for gemstones with some inclusions that may be difficult to see with a jeweler’s microscope. 

*   VS (VS1 and VS2)
Very Small Inclusions – clarity grades for gemstones with some small inclusions that can be seen with a jeweler’s microscope. 

*   SI (SI1 and SI2)
Small Inclusions – clarity grades for gemstones with inclusions that can be seen with a jeweler’s microscope. 

*   I (I1, I2, I3)
Inclusions – clarity grades for inclusions or blemishes that are visible to the eye, this can affect how brilliant and transparent the gemstone is.


Pearl values are determined in a different way. Natural pearls are produced when some foreign object or irritant gets into mollusks like oysters naturally. Natural pearls are however rare hence most pearls are cultivated by replicating this same process in a controlled way, pearls that are produced in this manner are referred to as cultured pearls.

Some cultured pearls include Akoya pearls from saltwater mollusks, south sea pearls from the waters and seas of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia, Tahitian pearls from Tahiti and freshwater pearls from freshwater mollusks.

South sea and Tahitian cultured pearls are generally more expensive than Akoya and freshwater pearls, freshwater pearls are the cheapest type of cultured pearls you can get. Perfectly round shaped pearls or similar pearls that match are usually more expensive than other pearls.

Some jewelers may use some pearl grading system like AAA to A or for Tahitian pearls A to D, it is usually better however for a jeweler to support these with a grading report for each pearl or pearl jewelry. Grading reports can be obtained for both natural and cultured pearls from a jeweler.

GIA also defined some set of criteria for determining the quality of pearl gemstones, some of these are as follows

Pearl generally comes in different types of shapes like button, round etc

That is, the pearl gemstone body color

A pearl gemstone luster may be Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor

Pearl surfaces may be Clean, Lightly Spotted, Moderately Spotted or Heavily Spotted

Nacre Thickness
This defines how thick the nacre of a pearl gemstone is. Nacre is the substance that mollusks use to coat the foreign objects or irritants that may have accidentally entered into their bodies or that may have been inserted into them to cultivate pearls. How thick the nacre of a pearl is will determine how long-lasting or durable the pearl gemstone will be.   

This defines how well a group or set of pearls match each other. It is graded as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor.

Pearl weights are measured in grams, a natural pearl gemstone weight may also be measured in carats too.

Pearl sizes can be measured in diameters, lengths and widths.

Gemstone Grading Reports Or Certificates

Each jeweler should ideally have some grading reports (also called certificates) for the gemstone(s) that may have been used in the jewelries they sell. The grading reports/certificates will indicate what the cut, color, clarity and carat of each gemstone is and for pearls the color, surface, matching grades etc of each pearl gemstone, they would also provide some additional information that relates to each gemstone too.

Jewelers will typically need to grade their gemstones in order to determine their values and the type of gemstone they are exactly. The grading will allow each jeweler to determine the cuts, carats, colors and clarities of the gemstones and the quality of pearls they sell or use for their jewelries and will also help them to know what they can effectively charge for them too.

Each jeweler may get their gemstone grading reports from a gem lab or from institutes like GIA. Such information should ideally be provided along with each gemstone they sell or use with their jewelries for their customers and for potential buyers too. Jewelers may only provide a GIA, AGL etc grading report/certificate for some of their more expensive gemstones or jewelry pieces.

If a site uses the same type of grading system, report or certificate for its jewelry gemstones, then comparing the gemstone jewelries on the site should be fairly easy and straight forward. However for sites that make use of more than one type of grading system, reports or certificates, each jewelry user or buyer will need to understand how the different grading system’s grades used on the sites corresponds to each other in order to do an effective comparison of more than one type of jewelry piece on such sites.

For example if a site only uses GIA grading system, reports or certificates for its jewelries, it should be easy to compare a jewelry’s gemstone cut, color, clarity, carat and pearl quality (for pearl gemstones).

But if the site chooses to use say GIA grading reports/certificates for some jewelries and AGL reports/certificates for others, to do an effective comparison of what you are buying exactly on the site, you will need to know and understand what the GIA grade for a diamond (in a jewelry piece) with a color grade of D for instance translates to on an AGL grading report/certificate too, in order to truly compare likes with likes and to also ensure that you get the best value for your money too.

You will need this information too apart from the prices that may have been quoted for each jewelry piece, to make your decisions.

A site that uses more than one type of grading system, reports or certificates should ideally draw up a comparative chart or table for the grading systems used on the site. However, if such a chart/table is not available, each jewelry user or buyer may contact the customer support service for the site to get some clarifications on whatever they may want to compare, or you may do some research on your own too on the internet, on how the different types of grades from one recognized gem institute correspond with others.

Jewelry Metals

The most valuable platinum and palladium jewelry metals will contain 95% of platinum or palladium respectively. Gold is measured in karats (K) and pure gold is 24K, that is, 24 karats. Silver jewelry metals must contain at least 92.5% of silver to be called sterling silver.

Jewelry pieces may have each type of jewelry metal content in varying degrees. The more of each metal content in a piece of jewelry the more valuable that jewelry piece will be. Jewelry metals may be stamped or hallmarked to indicate the amount of the specific type of metal content they contain.

Vintage And Antique Jewelries

For vintage and antique jewelries, in addition to their gemstone cuts, carats, colors and clarities, pearl quality and the possible precious metals they may contain, their ages and how rare they are, and their present conditions too will also determine their values.

Valuable Gemstones And Metals

All types of jewelries, gemstones, gemstone look-alikes and other types of jewelry materials can be worn and used for any occasion, event, every day etc. However some gemstones and jewelry metals are generally more valuable than others because

  • They typically have some inherent or implicit value
  • There is usually a market (demand) for them almost all the time
  • Their values may appreciate or increase over time
  • They are usually resalable now and will be too in the nearest future
  • People can buy them as investments and cash out on them later on
  • They can be passed on as heirlooms to others because of their values

The valuable gemstones that fall into this group include natural or enhanced (that is, treated natural) gemstones such as diamond, emerald, jade, ruby, tourmaline (paraiba, chrome, bi-color), sapphire, tanzanite, alexandrite ... see more of these here. Valuable jewelry metals will include the precious metals like platinum, gold, palladium and silver.

While other type of jewelry gemstones (synthetics and imitations), metals (titanium, stainless steel, brass etc) and other jewelry materials may have a price tag, they are generally not considered to be as valuable or as sought-after as any one of these. They are however always good to wear and may be used as gifts too.

Natural gemstones for the same type of gems are generally more expensive than synthetic or imitation gemstones. Enhanced (that is, treated natural) gemstones are usually less expensive than untreated natural gemstones. The precious metals are also more expensive than other types of metals that may be used for making jewelries.

Every reputable jeweler should be able to provide some information on the gemstone, metal and other type of jewelry materials used with any of the jewelry pieces they sell. For each jewelry piece, jewelry buyers should get the following details and information.

a). Gemstone Information
Grading reports with some indications on the type of treatment if any that may have been applied on the gemstone

b).  Precious metal details and information

c).  Other types of jewelry gems and materials (used with the jewelry piece) details and information

To Determine If Your Jewelry Piece Is Valuable

You will need to check the grading report/certificate and detailed information that came along with your jewelry piece when you bought it. If you can’t find the report or any of the details for your jewelry piece, you may ask your jeweler again for them, your jeweler should be able to send this to you for free at least by email.

The natural/enhanced gemstones and precious metals in your jewelry piece will mostly determine the value of your jewelries now and at any other point in time. Hence you should check to determine the type of valuable gemstone or jewelry metal as explained and noted earlier that may be in your jewelry piece.

To have some idea about the possible value of your jewelry piece now, you may check some online websites that keep track of the current market prices of gemstones and precious metals. You can also check for the current market price for some precious metals like gold too in the newspapers.

You will need to check for the current market price for the same type of gemstone(s) in your jewelry piece based on its cut, carat, color and clarity or the pearl quality. The value of the jewelry metal in your jewelry piece will be determined by the amount (that is, the percentage of the metal content) in your piece, the weight of the metal and the metal’s current market price.

The total sum of your jewelry piece’s gemstone and metal value should provide you with some idea about the current value of your jewelry piece.

You may not get the actual retail value you paid for your jewelry piece back because each jeweler would have added their own costs to their jewelry pieces to arrive at the price you may have paid for your own piece too. You may only get more value for your jewelry piece if the gemstone or metal in your piece has appreciated in value significantly enough since the time you bought it.

In addition to this, it is also the valuable metal content in your jewelry piece that may be valued and not the non-precious metals and/or metals that may have been used as alloys with it. 

Precious metals are measured in troy ounces, 31.103 grams make 1 troy ounce. Calculating the value of an 18K gold jewelry with a metal weight of 10 grams for instance will go as follows:

  • 1 gram of gold = current market price of gold / 31.103 (in US$)

You can convert this value to your own currency too if you want, gold is usually quoted in US dollars.

For an 18K gold jewelry (which would contain 75% of gold metal) the gold value will be

  • The price of 1 gram of gold x the percentage of gold in the jewelry x the weight of the jewelry gold metal (in grams)

If the current market price of gold is say $1,000 per troy ounce

  • 1 gram of gold = 1000 / 31.103 = $ 32.15

The current gold value for our example jewelry metal will then be

  • 32.15 x 75% x 10 = $ 241.25

You may use this method too to determine the current value for other types of precious metals in your jewelries too.

Additionally, a jewelry piece may also sell for more than its current gemstone and/or metal value if it was made by a well-known brand or if it has some period, vintage or antique value and if it is in some excellent condition etc.

To have some idea about the actual current market value for your jewelry piece specifically however, you will need to do some research on the possible resale price you can get for it. The most likely targets/markets that may buy your jewelries from you are jewelers, pawn brokers, individuals etc. Each one of these targets/markets will generally buy from you if they think they would be getting your jewelry at a bargain price or they want to resell it for profit.

Hence you should expect to mainly get wholesale prices or less as the possible resale price for your jewelries. Your actual jewelry resale price will be determined by how much whoever ends up buying your jewelry pay for it. 

To Determine If A New Jewelry Piece You May Want To Buy Is Valuable

To know this, you may check the grading report/certificate and the details for the jewelry piece on the jeweler website. You will want to know if the jewelry piece has any valuable natural/enhanced gemstones or a precious metal. You will also need to know the cut, carat, color and clarity of each gemstone and its pearl quality if it is a pearl gemstone.

You should also check the metal content of the jewelry piece too, that is the amount of metal it may have in karat for gold and the percentage of platinum, palladium and silver in the jewelry piece too if any.

You should note that once you buy the jewelry for your use its value would be determined thereafter as explained above in the previous section.

Get Your Own GIA, AGL etc Grading Report/Certificate

You may also send your gemstone or gemstone jewelry to a grading institute like GIA too to get a grading report/certificate if you want. However institutes like GIA only grade gemstones hence they may not analyze/grade any jewelry metal or other types of materials that may be part of your jewelry piece. Customers will mainly do this if they want to be sure or certain about the gemstones in their jewelry pieces, especially if they cost a lot.

Independent Jewelry Appraisals

You may do an independent appraisal with a reputable jewelry appraisal expert to know the appraised value of your jewelry piece (this may be used for insurance purposes) and to get the details/information about the piece, that is, the details of the gemstones, jewelry metals and other types of materials that make up your jewelry piece, you should ideally do some research on any service or company you may want to use for this.

You May Also Like:

The Difference Between Valuable And Expensive Jewelries And Their Worth
Valuable Jewelries: The Metals And Gemstones That Make Your Jewelry Valuable
Jewelry As An Investment - Before You Buy That Valuable Jewelry Piece
How To Choose The Right Type Of Jewelries For Yourself
Gemstone Colors In Shades And Hues
Selecting Your Jewelry Metal Colors

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