What Sells: Fine Jewelry

Competition online is tough for fine jewelry sales; while many items made with precious metals and gems do sell, they often go for far less than retail. This is partly due to the increased supply; many jewelry stores and manufacturers use online marketplaces to clear out last season’s leftovers at bargain prices. Still, there is a market for well-known designers like those in the list below.


Designer jewelry is frequently counterfeited; in 2004 Tiffany & Co. estimated that nearly 75% of all the Tiffany items sold on eBay were counterfeit. Many high-end jewelry designers actively enforce their copyrights; therefore it’s important to include proof of authenticity in your listing.

Ask the owner when and where they acquired the jewelry. Some sellers will include a sales receipt (with personal information blacked out) with the item as proof of authenticity. Clear photographs of the item will also help. In particular, take close-ups of any hallmarks, stamps, logos or other markings.

Research Resources

Visit each designer’s website for photos and descriptions of their current catalogues. For older collections, try Powell’s Books (http://www.powells.com) or your library for the following out of print titles: Hughes, Modern Jewelry 1890-1967 an International Survey, c. 1968 and Lewin, One of a Kind American Art Jewelry Today, c.1994


Look for these signs of wear and tear:

  • Scratches and scuffs in metal
  • Chips and cracks in stones
  • Tarnish or patina on metal
  • Dirt and grime
  • Bent or broken clasps and closures
  • Inscriptions (can add or detract from the value, depending on what it says)

Damage will be easier to spot with a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass. If the item is particularly dirty, suggest to the owner that they clean the item or take it to a jeweler to be cleaned (don’t clean it yourself).

Key Details

Include these details in your listing:
  • Name of designer
  • Name of style or line (not all brands have these)
  • Type of item (engagement ring, tennis bracelet, pearl drop earrings, etc.)
  • Materials (platinum, 18K gold, diamonds, emeralds, etc.)
  • Ring size
  • Necklace length
  • Age (if known)
  • Description of colors, patterns, motifs, etc.
Storage and Shipping

Use the original packaging whenever possible to store and ship an item. Otherwise, wrap the jewelry in bubble wrap and cushion with crumpled tissue paper or packing peanuts. Padded envelopes and poly mailers won’t prevent the items from being crushed, so use a sturdy box. Expensive items should be insured and shipped with tracking.

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