What's It Worth by Jeff Hess

Posted: 2022-02-27

A Maryland jeweler heard we were experts in Cartier jewelry. While we have already written about Cartier three times this year, this piece is too beautiful not to share.

Vintage Cartier items are some of the most soughtafter items in the world of vintage jewelry. Typically the older the better – with Art Deco being the most coveted. However, Cartier craftsmen were still making mid-century modern masterpieces into the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

Posted: 2022-02-13

Long before the extremely popular Balloon Bleu Cartier watches made today, Cartier, Tiffany and many others made Montgolfier items. Watchmakers, craftspeople and jewelers made items in the form of balloons. Tiffany made some, but Cartier was a huge maker of these specially named Montgolfier pieces, in honor of the brothers who practically invented the hot air balloon. These highly collectible items are rarely seen today.

The Montgolfier era of collectibility typically spans from the 1820s to the 1930s.

Posted: 2022-02-06

When I was a kid in Central Illinois I took great joy in getting a letter addressed to me. They might have been from an aunt or uncle, or maybe just an ad, but I was thrilled to go to the mailbox.

Today I opened a nondescript package from a jeweler in Texas and once again I got the same feeling as that kid at the mailbox. The jeweler, without telling me, sent two extraordinary Cartier pieces from completely different eras and I thought it would be fun to share with you.

Posted: 2022-01-16

We were excited when we got the call. A jeweler in South Florida had come across one of what is considered the Holy Grail of Rolex Submariners. The coveted 6204 is one of the earliest of all Rolex Submariners — made in 1953 with a decidedly different look than today’s Submariners. It’s smaller in size, has no crown guards and is often referred to as the James Bond model.

Posted: 2022-01-09

We recently bought from a Rhode Island jeweler a stunning signed Gumbiner suite of sapphire jewelry valued at well over $200,000.

Posted: 2022-01-02

On the heels of our recent whimsical article on the popularity of pearls worn by men (with included definitions of pearl beads, cultured pearls and rare natural pearls), we bought hundreds of strands of nice larger cultured pearls and 3 small strands of natural pearls from local residents (one natural strand we paid $25,000 for as it was signed, numbered and large with original paperwork from 1937).

Posted: 2021-12-26

Seems a bit untoward to write an advertorial on Christmas weekend about crass buying-and-selling stuff. But this column is about value and without a doubt, family and health are the most valuable things we possess.

When I met Katrina on an online jewelry industry “bulletin board” in the late 1990s, we sparred good naturedly via this now archaic mode of communication about a myriad of jewelry-related topics, but mostly about valuation theory.

Posted: 2021-12-19

The term “collectibles” is a broad one and today’s subject has plenty of subtext.

Anything Cartier is collectible. Just as anything Tiffany is collectible. Or anything made by Patek Philippe. Or anything that has the Corvette logo.

Valuation of such items is difficult. As we have discussed before, the IRS defines value in several legal ways. Retail value, insurance value, wholesale value, fair market value and liquidation are all values that have specific, if sometimes elastic, definitions.

Posted: 2021-12-12

In the world of watchmaking, it is sometimes difficult to sift through the blurred lines of history, promotion, folklore and outright fabrications. Many brands sold today are merely “brands” in the loosest sense. Investors find an old name, gain ownership of that name and start making watches.

Several brands stand out. Patek Philippe, Rolex, Breitling and Ulysse Nardin seem to be the big four that have had largely uninterrupted manufacturing for close to a century.

Posted: 2021-12-05

Did you know we offer no-interest financing on almost everything in our store (thanks to a cozy relationship with a large finance company), and also offer old-fashioned layaway if you put up a down payment? And this is not a new phenomenon. Here is an abridged story about a small jeweler in 1880s Rio de Janerio, Brazil, who saw a marketing opportunity and acted on it.