When it comes to sell pearl jewelry


Jun 18, 2015
I have a question. I collect pearl jewelry – especially vintage and antique pearl jewelry. I love rings, necklaces and brooches and besides eBay I also join live auctions and estate sales to cover my demand. It has become a huge collection of almost everything you can imagine including damaged, broken or mismatched pearl jewelry. I often thought about selling because jewelry I never wear can bring joy to other collectors.

I like eBay for buying but wouldn’t sell my stuff there – too complex for me and too much time in involved. We do have an auction house in Colorado Springs but the commissions they charge the consigner are by far too high. Craigslist isn’t an option because I don’t want to meet strangers.

I brought some jewelry to a pawn shop and to a jeweler but bought failed. These guys don’t have a clue about antique pearl jewelry. One buyer suggested cutting the pearls out to melt the remains down. To be honest, the pearl jewelry I ponder to sell isn’t amazing - it’s the jewelry I don’t wear, as I said but nevertheless it’s not something to destroy for melting.

I also joined a gold buyer but the price he offered was also not acceptable. All the buyers I met made the impression to have a leak of knowledge. It seemed that they aren’t interested in my pearls. They strive to melt down what they can get. I found a report about gold buyers in Coral Springs and Colorado and it seems that selling jewelry online is better than in my community!

So what are my selling options? I did some research and found out that most buyers pay too little money for jewelry. Rip-off has become a huge problem. I found some websites on the internet offering free evaluation for jewelry. Moreover there are some marketplaces for used jewelry.
Do you have experience in mail-in programs for jewelry? Where to you sell your jewelry you don’t longer wear and friends don’t need?
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Buyers do like a bargain. :rolleyes: C'est la vie.

If the collection is very large (you call it "huge") you could hire a professional estate seller to sell it for you.

Damaged, broken and mismatched jewelry will be hard to sell, IMO. Might as well sell that for its metal content.
Buyers do like a bargain. :rolleyes: C'est la vie.

You are so right!

But you know, mostly the pearls are worth more than the metal. But even the offered metal prices were bad!

And estate sellers - I met one. She told me maybe your ring goes for 10 or for 100 :confused:
Unfortunately pearls do not really hold their value on resale. And the value is really only what a buyer will pay for it, which is highly variable.

I've had to clear out 3 homes when parents and in-laws died. Most things sell for much less than they were worth to the owners, much less than what it would have cost to replace them.

EBay is not so friendly to sellers any more, so I understand your distaste for it. My husband used to sell occasionally but he says he won't do it any more-- the effort is not worth what he nets, and eBay sellers have few rights any more. EBay and PayPal favor the buyer over the seller; it's quite unbalanced.

Some people sell their used jewelry on Diamond Bistro. I have never listed anything there, but you could check it out.

Have you checked out Ruby Lane? Or etsy? There is a market for vintage (20 years or older) and antique jewelry on both places. You can get an idea what similar items are listed at. When you sell to a middle man, they are expecting to turn an item over and make a profit right away, so we aren't going to get very much.

It does require some time to take good photos and write descriptions if you decide to sell online.
I believe you can also still sell vintage on Etsy.

- Karin
I'd probably just put it up on eBay regardless of eBay's flaws. There's a huge number of buyers and you get to keep most of your profit that way. I am quite a dummy with anything technical and have no problem listing stuff on there.
You are going to struggle to sell broken jewellery in any marketplace unless you are very realistic about what you expect to make.
I agree with all the above. As a buyer, I look on etsy and ebay, as well as Craigslist. Lots of fakes so unless a seller has stellar feedback, I would not attempt to sell on ebay. I have gotten some great deals buying from an unrated seller in the past, but it is a gamble. The most important thing is selling on any site is to give as much detail as you can, both in words and pictures. Show how big something is in relation to a ruler or a coin. Most people are clueless about how big 5mm is unless they see it in person and realize how small it is. You can also try to sell on online sites that have jewelry forums, but again, you'll need to have some reputation established so buyers can have faith in you.

To give you an idea: My daughter recently sold two of her Yurman bracelets. One bracelet was sold twice on ebay. The first buyer returned it because she said it was a child's bracelet because it was so thin (5mm cable, which is not for kids). She relisted it and it sold for $285 but $35 or so went to pay fees. She sold another very similar 5mm bracelet on her school's sorority garage sale page for $350 and there was no fee, although she shipped for free. Find a place or market that likes what you like and try to sell there. These bracelets normally retail for $595, just to give you an idea of what prices fetch for popular brand jewelry. Something more specialized like vintage, antique pearls will be a much harder market to find, but with the right buyer group, you may be able to get more. One last thing, my grandmother owned a jewelry store. She always said gems never hold their value and to stick with precious metals. That may be true, but it would also make for very boring jewelry.
May I be straight forward and direct?

First, honestly value what you are trying to sell. Usually, we become emotionally involved and inflate their values (Dan Ariely has done some great social experiments on this theme).

Broken vintage pieces are usually worth no more than the metal price, unless it is something quite rare and easy to repair. Ditto for mismatched earrings or things missing a part. Generally, if you are showing someone a large number of items and many fit these categories, they are not going to go digging through everything, evaluating each piece individually. Their time is worth money and digging around for one treasure won't usually pay off.

So separate the broken, damaged and mismatched pieces to send out as scrap. The only exceptions is the occasional earring that would look great as a pendant (if you are willing to take the time to actually have it converted) and the rare piece that still has worth despite damage (generally, either true antiques of an unusual design or a very high end designer piece with hallmarks). Remove the pearls and scrap the metal. You can send it directly to refiner yourself and get a better rate.

For the pieces that are worth reselling. As a general rule, the easier and faster you want the money, the less you will get for them. A consigner will do the work of selling (having a retail space, talking to people, hold the risk, etc), so they will give you less money. You can do it all yourself on Craigslist and get more money, but that will take much more time and effort on your part. Loupetroupe and DiamondBistro are both listing sites for second hand jewelry that many people here have used.

Do your research to understand the pricing - how much are people paying for this kind of jewelry and how long is it sitting there before selling? Be brutally honest with your pieces here. A little smaller, a little more worn, etc, will all impact on price. Pricing low may get you a quick sale, pricing high may sit around.
If you don't want to sell through any of the websites like E-bay, you can also ask someone to set up a website for you. It will give potential buyers a better overview of what you have to offer and will establish trust, since it gives more details than just the short descriptions on e-bay. It's also not a lot of work, especially if you use a website building program, like this one here.

I wish you good luck!