What's It Worth by Jeff Hess

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.

Posted: 2022-10-18

We love antique and art deco jewelry. But we buy expensive jewelry of ALL kinds. Today we will highlight a few items that came in from a specific current manufacturer and designer, “Sophia D.”

While we write a lot about our love of vintage Cartier, Tiffany and Harry Winston (as well as Van Cleef & Arpels and David Webb), we absolutely LOVE the designs of Sophia D.

Many of us former mid-westerners and southerners think of New York as (like the saying goes) “a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Noisy, fast-paced, chaotic, overwhelming.

Posted: 2022-10-04

On the heels of last week’s Tiffany article, readers brought in two extraordinary Tiffany items. The first is a 14k gold signed and numbered natural sapphire art deco brooch with only about $300 in gold. We paid $1,000 for it because of its extraordinary design, the fineness of the sapphires and the numbered piece. It was possibly made by designer Oscar Heyman on special order. It is for sale in our store for only $1,500. Call us if you would like to see it.

Posted: 2022-10-04

To say we were stunned when a Tampa Bay woman brought this astonishing ring to us would be an understatement. Valuation, as discussed before, is not always specific, especially with rare or one-of-a-kind items.

The woman came in to sell an important Tiffany piece to us that had been in the family for over 100 years (more on this in a later column), and brought along a few other family treasures.

This ring was made circa 1821. And it was in its original box. It was essentially in new condition, as it had been rarely – if ever – worn.

Posted: 2022-10-04

When an Indiana jeweler called us with a Tiffany & Co. ruby for sale for $11,000, we quickly said, “Ship it!”

It sounded too good to be true and, in a way, it was.

The jeweler had had the stone sent to GIA, and while “smallish” at 1.78 carat, it was deemed to be from Burma and to have “no heat.”

As we have discussed before, most rubies sold today are from Thailand and other countries, and 95 percent are heated to make them look much better than they naturally occur.

Posted: 2022-10-04

A North Carolina jeweler, helping a local octogenarian sell some family heirlooms, sent us a photo of a very colorful necklace last month. She described it as nongold and colorful paste, telling us it was “costume jewelry.”

We don’t deal in most costume jewelry, but do enjoy centuries-old heavy gold plate “French paste” costume jewelry, which often brings hundreds of dollars. Based on her description, we made an offer of $1,000 for the suite. Upon receiving it, we were pleased and paid her.

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.