What's It Worth by Jeff Hess

Posted: 2023-03-10

A Texas estate jeweler heard about our propensity for vintage high-end artisan jewelry and approached us with a fantastic Van Cleef & Arpels signed and numbered platinum art deco brooch.

Van Cleef & Arpels was founded in the 1890s by gem cutter Alfred Van Cleef and his partner and gem dealer Salomon Arpels. Their partnership resulted in jewelry with only the finest color stones that were expertly and finely cut and of the highest caliber.
These pieces were often worn by royalty.

Posted: 2023-02-17

An exciting item crossed our desk last week. Exciting because it encompassed just about every sense that collectors, hoarders and investors love. Every emotion that collectors share was tickled a bit. The “investment” aspect of collecting ignited the brain. The beta waves that the brain produces in response to focus, excitement and concentration were on full alert.

What is this thing? A work of art? Yes. One-of-a-kind (“piece unique” in collectors jargon)? For sure! Of local interest? Oh yes! Made of solid gold or something valuable? Definitely!

Posted: 2023-02-10

Everyone loves a treasure hunt. Today, I thought I might write about secret deals, little treasures, lucky finds or metziahs. Often hiding in plain sight, these apparent “nothings” can make you some real money.

We love to buy currency collections, especially the old large-size bills; and if you have such a collection, bring it in. While there are many surprises lurking in currency collections, one normal small-size bill stands out. The 1933 $10 bill can be worth
$25,000 in crisp new condition, and even a circulated one can be worth $1,000. Do you have one?

Posted: 2023-02-03

We write a lot about the “four Cs” of diamonds: cut, color, clarity and carat weight. And as you have learned from previous columns, larger round, white, clean diamonds are considered, in most circles, the best and the priciest. A five-carat D color, flawless
clarity with excellent cut and symmetry will wholesale for around $500,000. When you add a fancy mounting and a dealer’s 20%-or-so markup, you are nearing the $750,000 range! Add the name Tiffany or Cartier and a price of $1,000,000 is not out of
the question.

Posted: 2023-01-06

With such an unexceptional, plain-sounding signature of Yard, it might be easy to dismiss a piece of jewelry marked with that one common word.

But what is not as easily dismissed is the vibrant color of the incredible ruby in the center of the piece – and the exceptionally white and clean side diamonds (not to mention the impeccable workmanship).

When a New Hampshire jeweler contacted us about this piece, he had already done his homework and knew that Yard was the mark of Raymond C. Yard.

Posted: 2023-01-04

To know the real worth of a piece, we need to see it. Here are some of the things we buy.

Posted: 2022-12-26

Seems a bit untoward to write an advertorial on Christmas Day 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: 2022-11-28

Did you know that watchmakers were the Bill Gates and Elon Musk of their day? Indeed, without watchmakers, early explorers would not have been able to navigate the world. Today we are highlighting a German watch made by the Hahn family – in some circles, they are considered the originators of mathematical machinery.

Posted: 2022-10-28

Cameo collecting reached its peak in the 1980s, with collectors clamoring for the finest, most deftly cut and interesting pieces – and some of them fetched $10,000 or more. Sadly, cameo collecting in 2016 is at its nadir – typically
bringing 10 to 25 percent of the 1980s-era value.

Cameo prices have fallen so dramatically that many jewelers scrap them for the gold they are in or throw them away. Even exceptional-quality cameos are worth pennies on the dollar right now.

Posted: 2022-10-21

Everyone has underperforming assets – items that are unused or unwanted that aren’t doing any good sitting in drawers, at the bank, in your closet or on your walls. In the case of watches and certain artwork, they might be deteriorating. With gold so high during these uncertain times, consider us when turning your underperforming assets into the cash that you could use to invest, go on vacation or pay bills. Katrina Hess is a nationally known graduate gemologist and founder of the GIA Alumni Association, and the Hesses are well known nationally.