I am often asked if there are any fashion jewelry pieces that have value. Value is such a subjective thing – a $100 Joan Rivers or $250 Kirks Folly piece is valuable to a collector, but not as valuable to someone who can afford to collect 14K gold and fancy vivid sapphire jewelry. There is one adage that holds true, though. Scarcity usually equates to value.
The lack of readily available inventory usually is inversely related to value, given functionality. In other words, if an item is functional and desirable and not overly produced, its value usually goes up. The scarcity of a rare butter churn does not make it valuable because it is no longer used and is not used for its original purpose. It may still be used for demonstration purposes or as an accessory but there is no real value associated with those uses.
The best fashion jewelry was made by quality jewelers or manufacturers (some made real gemstone jewelry as well) and for short periods and well marked. Some manufacturers did not survive the great depression, for example. Others were purchased by competitors. Some founders passed away and there was no one with vision to carry on the company. There are many reasons why companies stopped producing pieces.
It is hard to list such companies in a short blog entry but research will yield some incredible results. Many Appraisers have favorite companies, designers, and manufacturers, but the “heyday” of fashion jewelry is often referenced in parallel with the golden era of Hollywood – the 1930s - 1940s. There were incredible quality pieces made during this time to mimic and outright copy pieces worn in movies and by celebrities or made by designers to specifically accompany garments. Commemorative pieces from Jackie Kennedy, Princess Monaco, and others capitalized on the tail end of that period and are celebrating a resurgence today with historically accurate reproductions. Even high-end designers like Cartier, Tiffany & Co, and Harry Winston are buying back important pieces owned by celebrities and issuing reproductions.
So, before you overlook that box of fashion jewelry at the garage sale, church bazaar or flea market realize that there may be overlooked important pieces contained within. The most overlooked piece are strands of pearls. It is hard to ascertain the difference between natural, cultured and faux pearl strands. In fact, the Cultured Pearl Association of America, has driven the change in the naming convention of pearls to drop the reference to nautural and cultured pearls because they are basically indistinguishable and so proilific.
Maple Leaf Appraisals is happy to assist with values and appraisals and we often buy entire estate jewelry collections as long as there is no conflict of interest and we are not contracted to create an appraisal.
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