Where to Sell Jewelry- Your Options Explained
Whether it’s a diamond engagement ring from an ex or a gold pocket watch you inherited from your great uncle, plenty of people have jewelry they have no use for and would consider selling for cash. Or perhaps you have some jewelry that’s nice enough, but outdated—better to sell it and use the funds to put towards something new. Plus, every jewelry box can benefit from the occasional edit now and then and it always feels good to declutter and downsize. Especially when there’s money to be made!
There are quite a few ways to turn unwanted jewelry into cash, but where are the best places to sell jewelry? From auction houses and consignment sites to good old-fashioned yard sales, we’ve narrowed down the options to help you choose the approach that feels right to you. All require varying degrees of time and effort; likewise, some of the resale options will net you a larger payout than others. Our number one piece of advice? Stay safe and alert above all else (more on that later).
Before deciding where to sell your jewelry, consider getting an appraisal first. An appraisal will provide information on the item such as the manufacturer, the gold karat age and gram weight, and the quality and specs of any diamonds (using the 4 Cs as a guide). Most appraisers charge anywhere between $50-$150 per hour or a flat fee, depending on the number of items and complexity of the job. A single engagement ring takes less time to assess compared to your late grandmother's entire jewelry collection.
Once you obtain an appraisal, you can use the value assigned to the jewel or jewels as a resale guideline when you go to offload the piece. If you have large quantities of fine jewelry you want to resell but don’t want to spend your personal time soliciting buyers, consider outsourcing the task to an estate sale company.
A suggested guideline: For items valued more than $500, we recommend auction houses or online jewelry consignment stores where professionals handle the logistics, making you less vulnerable to scams. If your pieces are valued below $500, try your luck at a local jewelry store who may pay cash outright, consigning with a local resale boutique, or snapping some pics and uploading them to a Facebook or another online marketplace. Yard sales are great for costume and “junk” jewelry.
Below, we present the various avenues to selling your jewelry so that you can weigh your options and proceed with confidence.
How it works: If you have a signed piece (i.e. it’s something by the likes of Cartier or Van Cleef & Arpels) that has been in your family for many generations with any accompanying paperwork like the original receipt and packaging, chances are you are in possession of something rare and valuable. In this case, take it to an auction house like Christie’s or Sotheby’s for review. An auction house is also good option if you are in possession of a valuable collection that contains multiple fine jewelry pieces that a jeweler might not have the bandwidth to sort through. The main benefit of selling your jewelry through an auction house is that having a global audience keen to place bids can increase the final hammer price—and what you take home.
If the auction house specialist determines that your jewelry lot or single rare item is something you should bring to auction, it will take a 15-20% commission of the final hammer price (and some auction houses charge additional fees for photography/marketing and repairs). You will often be asked to send photos first before an in-person consultation as a time-saving first step for both parties.
Advice: Find a reputable auction house that uses jewelry specialists with gemological and diamond grading qualifications from reputable institutions like The Gemological Institute of America. The auction house should be a member of the National Auctioneers Association (NAA), ensuring the highest ethical and professional standards are followed.
Local Jewelry Store
How it works: Jewelers could be interested in your jewelry as-is (to resell in an estate case) or for the melt value of the gold or platinum (they should send you home with any gems they remove). How do you know if you are getting a fair deal? Look online to see what comparable items are selling for and use that as a guideline—you won’t get the full retail value because the jeweler needs to profit from your sale, so close to 50% of the prices you’re seeing would be fair.
When it comes to selling gold for cash, many members of the jewelry trade rely on the site Kitco for live gold prices. Gold weight is calculated into dollars using the troy ounce (1 troy ounce is equal to 31.1 g). After determining the weight of your gold item(s), the jeweler converts the price per troy ounce (31.1g) to grams to assess its market value in dollars. In general, a cash offer of 65-88% of the item’s value is considered fair.
Advice: Bring your unwanted jewelry only to a jeweler you know and trust. Be wary of establishments that advertise "We Buy Gold" or “Cash for Gold.” Check and see if they have a valid license, otherwise they may use faulty scales and other fraudulent tactics to mislead you.
Local Consignment Boutiques
How it works: Some brick-and-mortar consignment shops ask for images of your jewelry to be emailed while others prefer you take your jewelry to the store for evaluation (call first to see if they operate by appointment). If approved, it’s standard for your jewelry to be displayed for 60 to 90 days. If your item doesn’t sell within that period, some stores will discount the item or ask you to pick it up. Commission rates for brick-and-mortar consignment boutiques vary between 25-50%, and some boutiques offer you higher payouts if you take in-store credit instead of cash.
Advice: Target shops that have been operating for years versus newbies whose future may be uncertain. Be wary of any boutique that fails to provide percentage terms up-front. Confirm the establishment has a valid business license and read every review prior to consigning your jewelry with them.
Where to Sell Jewelry Online
How it works: Trusted by thousands of buyers, these platforms help you sell your jewelry and get the most money for your piecesno middle man to take a cut of the profit. Here, sellers (you) connect with buyers and all communications are managed through the marketplace platform. You must comply with their standards and note any seller commission fees and/or listing fees. Simply download the app of your preferred platform, create an account on the site, register as a seller, and post photos of your items with an asking price.
Shipping and handling will be on you, but you can avoid these fees by restricting your transactions to local pick-ups only.
Depending on the marketplace, payment is fulfilled through the platform or offline. We recommend using Venmo, Zelle or Paypal because these platforms have measures in place to protect you.
eBay offers the built-in benefit a large international audience (many, many millions of users), increasing the chances of you selling your items. It offers no listing fees for the first 250 items and the first $1,000 of a sale incurs a 15% fee.
Consider Etsy only if you have a large amount of jewelry and have the time to create and manage an online shop. There are three basic selling fees: a listing fee of $0.20, a 6.5% transaction fee on the sale price, and a payment processing fee of 3% + $0.25 per item sold. There’s also a 15% advertising fee for sales that come from offsite ads. Etsy offers shipping discounts and tutorials to help you start selling, and enables easy account management via its mobile app.
Advice: Review the history or business activities of your potential buyer’s online marketplace profile. Some apps or websites even allow sellers to rate their experiences with buyers, incentivizing legitimate activity. If a buyer has no history of purchases, reconsider being the first person to do business with them.
Online Consignment Platforms
An online consignment boutique is a popular choice for those who prefer to sell their valuable jewelry digitally and don’t want to be involved in customer transactions. You get the benefit of surfacing your jewelry to a wide audience with greater safety—and minimal time and effort.
How it works: Most online consignment establishments provide a pre-paid shipping label and packaging to facilitate sending your jewelry to them. Once received, the specialists will list and market your jewelry on their website. When your item sells, the store handles packaging and shipping, and you will be paid by check, direct deposit, PayPal or store credit. Online consignments charge commission fees ranging between 10-70%.
- Worthy offers free jewelry appraisals, GIA certifications, cleaning, and photography services. They also send you a pre-paid FedEx label to ship your items for listing. The commission fee range is 10-18% and if your item doesn’t meet or exceed the reserve price, you can have it shipped back to you free of charge.
- The RealReal is a luxury consignment retailer that takes one of the higher commission rates of 30-50%. If your jewels don’t sell within 365 days after acceptance, you can have them returned to you at their cost, or request for the items to be donated to a charity.
- eBay is home to a number of professional sellers with consignment stores whose terms vary; the payout to clients is 20-40% of the final sale or auction price. Before you go to sell your jewelry with them, review their inventory to see if it aligns with the jewelry you want to sell and make sure the seller is highly-rated and has been on the eBay platform for several years.
Advice: No matter which online platform you choose to sell your jewelry, review the fee schedule before listing and make sure the company is highly-rated, secure, and offers insurance.
Marketplace Scams to Avoid
Scammers tend to operate on online marketplaces and can get creative with their methods; below are some of the most common red flags if you’re attempting to sell your jewelry to buyers face-to-face.
- Beware of prospective buyers who refuse to meet you in person at a public place that you have chosen – preferably a well-lit area with plenty of witnesses.
- Don't proceed if the buyer wants to communicate on other platforms where there’s less accountability. All of your discussions and transactions should take place on the marketplace platform of your listing.
- If the buyer "accidentally" sends you too much money via a payment app and asks you to send back the difference, you’ve been scammed. If you comply, you'll lose the product and the money you returned because their payment will turn out to be a fraud and get rescinded.
- Look out for counterfeit cash, fake checks, money orders, and stolen credit cards tied to a payment app.
How it works: When you bring our jewelry to a pawnshop, the pawnbroker makes an offer and, after some negotiation, you’ll get a cash payout immediately.
Advice: Selling jewelry to pawnshops is not ideal since they offer the very lowest amount of cash for your items. If you pawn your item for a loan, you need to pay back the loan plus monthly interest, typically 20-25%. If you don’t abide by the agreed terms, you’ll have to forfeit your item or extend the loan and pay additional charges.
How it works: Good for costume and junk jewelry, and unloading large quantities that have been sitting in the bottom of your jewelry case. You set the price but don’t expect to sell any of your pieces for more than $3. Yard sale shoppers are looking to buy things on the cheap.
Advice: Since jewelry can easily be stolen, keep those items next to your cash box for easy monitoring. Don’t keep large amounts of money on hand. Lock any doors that lead to your home and/or basement and don’t allow any shopper to use your bathroom. Don’t run the yard sale unattended, make sure you have a friend or a family member helping. Provide as little personal information as possible when advertising your sale on Craigslist, Next Door, and other local sites or on your signs. Just give your city and street name and not the exact home address.
Make sure you insure your jewelry by a reputable jewelry company like Jewelers Mutual. Obtaining personal jewelry insurance through Jewelers Mutual is an affordable option and covers loss, damage and mysterious disappearances. You can receive a jewelry insurance quote in just 30 seconds by clicking the button below. No personal information is required.