What's It Worth by Jeff Hess

Posted: 2019-06-15

Often when we write a column about a particular subject, it generates interest in our two stores for both buying and selling. Last month’s column about mid-century modern enticed a forward-thinking Tampa resident to bring us perhaps the mother lode of mid-century modern.

Why the mother lode? Because these two rings are a couple of the heaviest and most unusual rings we have ever seen. Additionally, he retained the original artist paperwork (Barry Merritt) outlining the original cost and signed by the artist.

Posted: 2019-06-15

The Western Case Company was a short-lived business for a few years before it was bought by a large American watch company. They employed artisans from all walks of life including Swiss immigrants, enamelists and case makers.

Posted: 2019-06-15

While we were fortunate enough to see hundreds of items at the Expo last week, we thought we’d choose a few items we appraised and valued for this column.

We had the chance to meet hundreds of people and appraise a lot of unique items – including expensive paintings, large diamonds and a range of antiques. Most of these pictures are low-resolution cellphone photos, and some are even pictures of other pictures, but you will get the idea.

Posted: 2018-04-19

A Roanoke, Virginia jeweler, knowing our love of Art Deco, sold us this exceptional, convertible Art Deco French hallmark 18 K gold pin. It’s encrusted with diamonds on both ends and in the middle, and has a removable cut-glass ribbon design that can be changed out with other gemstones to match any outfit. We paid than less than $2,000 (gold value is $200), and contemplated having our cutter cut black jade and blue lapis lazuli stones for the piece - or selling it as is.

Posted: 2019-06-15

There is a fascinating phenomenon in the world of art, jewelry and antiques. Simply put, things once considered ugly by one generation become incredibly beautiful and/or valuable in the eyes of a later generation.

It’s not that difficult to explain. Let’s examine the phenomenon of “freeform” or “modernist” or “brutalist” jewelry.

Posted: 2019-06-15

Today’s column is informational and an ad, and we are asking you to bring in important or older baseball memorabilia for an upcoming auction.

Before championship rings were given out, medals and pocket watch fobs were given to athletes for championships. Today we’re talking about old and new baseball collectibles and our upcoming sports memorabilia sale, for which we are seeking items for consignment. Any championship rings and pre- 1960s signed baseballs and memorabilia are wanted. We only accept baseball cards if they are pre-1950s.

Posted: 2019-06-13

So, a couple of weeks ago, we received a note from a reader who said:

“Mr. & Mrs. Hess, I love your interesting columns. I know they are actually ads, but I appreciate your sharing of facts. However, you always point out that you only make a modest profit. Is this true? Surely you have made some tremendous profits, too. Can you share some of these? I realize this may be embarrassing – but it would be fun, don’t you think?”

Posted: 2019-06-13

The 1950s to 1980s are the hot trend today.

When we first went into the antique business in the 1980s, no one wanted that ugly (at the time) 1950s and ’60s modern-ist design; the bizarre clock in your mom’s kitchen or the odd Danish-designed table in your parents’ den was not so much collectible as old hat.

In the grand spirit of “everything old is new again,” from around 2005, these mid-century modern pieces started to enjoy a renewed hipness, especially among twentysome-things.

Posted: 2019-06-13

Like last week, this article is about back in the day — but with the added entertainment value of me having lost $40,000.

The most expensive wristwatch I had ever purchased (at the time), a Ref. 1523 by Patek Philippe – was bought in partnership with a Califor- nia dealer in April 1989. We paid $180,000 and put it in a Hong Kong auction with an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. The market was on fire and we were sure it would fetch more than the estimate.

Posted: 2019-06-13

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The eye is in the beholder ... right?

This old adage is particularly true with gemstones. When folks bring in antique (or modern) rings to sell, there seems to be some confusion between a star sapphire, a cat’s eye and a tiger’s eye.

Let’s start with tiger’s eye. Tiger’s eye (Fig. 1)

is a cool stone that is basically quartz –cryptocrystalline quartz to be exact. While not worthless, it is inexpensive in the marketplace and for the most part has only minimal value, often just a few dollars over the gold weight of its setting.