You could be sitting on a gold mine—literally. Here's how to determine the value of every last piece of jewelry and furniture you own.
Look for an unbiased jewelry appraiser you can trust to give you an accurate estimate of the cost of replacing or repairing the item, says Amanda Gizzi, a spokesperson for Jewelers of America. “Look for someone who is neutral, and in no way trying to buy the piece,” she advises. Most reputable jewelry stores have an appraiser on staff, or you can find an independent appraiser through the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. Independent appraisers are ideal for people with larger jewelry collections, says Gizzi, because they can come to you and often specialize in certain materials. Have your pieces reappraised every few years to ensure each is properly covered.
If you have a feeling your bureau is valuable, how do you know it’s worth it to fork over the $100 or more to get it appraised? There are a few clues, says Danielle Rahm, managing director at New York Fine Art Appraisers. Age is the first: Items made in the first half of the 19th century or earlier are more likely to be valuable than newer pieces. Then look for clues that it was handmade, like uneven spacing and rough, rounded edges. Some pieces may have a maker’s mark or a label that can provide more information about the piece—look carefully, as it might be hidden, says Rahm. If chances seem good the item is valuable, find an appraiser through the Appraisers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers. (Many will do online appraisals based on high-quality photos; for a higher cost, they’ll come to you.) Avoid cleaning the piece until you’ve had it looked at, since you could damage original patina.