3 Tips to Value Costume Jewelry

Trying to value costume jewelry? Most people think that only fine jewelry is worth keeping or reselling, but that is so far from the truth. It is as fake as a pearl made from fish skeletons. Today, collectors are looking for vintage costume jewelry from all over the world, from various eras, and made of all types of materials. The young collectors like costume jewelry because they don’t have to worry about losing a piece of jewelry that is worth their salary and then some. Seasoned collectors look for costume jewelry to recall a bygone era or looking through their mother’s or grandmother’s jewelry box.

People are shocked to learn that costume jewelry pieces can bring hundreds of dollars in today’s active online market and online at sites like eBay and Etsy and others. If you can’t tell if your costume jewelry is valuable or not, then you have to learn how to spot it or else you stand to lose a fortune in junk, junk jewelry, that is. How do you tell the real deal from the fakes? Here are three tips to recognize which fake jewels that are worth big bucks.

1. Examine the Construction

How a piece is made is the ultimate sign of value and quality. Look for clear details, well-decorated elements, sharp lines, crisp figures, even prongs, strong settings, sparkling faux stones, glass, or other high-end materials to value costume jewelry. For pins, look at the pin latch, examine the way the pin is attached to the brooch. If it looks solid, you have a winner.

With earrings, screw backs, lever backs, and post/pierced backs have their pluses and minuses. Screw backs will hold clip on earrings tight to the ear lobe where lever backs may be more apt to fall off the ear which will make the wearer run the risk of losing an earring. Pierced earrings are great as long as the earrings’ backs that sit on the pierced-ear post are tight against the post and hold the earring firmly in place. Check these backs before you wear a pair of earrings and be sure they are secure before you list or try to resell a pair of earrings.

What if you don’t have the pair or a full set of earrings? Don’t fret if your earrings have gone solo or if you lost an earring from your matching pair. Many people wear only one earring nowadays so if you only have one earring, that’s ok. You can try to resell it as a single to an ever-growing market. And some larger single clip-on earrings can be transformed to be worn as a pendant on a heavy omega type necklace or other chain necklace.

Bracelets are all about the links, connections, and strength. Look at the strands that keep a bracelet together. Gold and silver tone metals and decorated clasps are important signs of a good piece of costume jewelry. If the clasp is decorated, that’s a plus. Some are highlighted with beadwork, intricate designs in metal, or a strategically placed faux pearl, piece of jade, or coral element. Size and shape of links are important. Bracelet links should conform and copy each other to look good. Multi strand beaded bracelets should have a strong clasp and good design. Color schemes are essential to a popular design in costume jewelry.

Pearls, excuse me, I meant faux pearls are some of the most popular costume jewelry items which come in all styles, shapes, sizes. Faux pearls’ quality can run the gamut from low and lousy to fashionable and fabulous. And never put pearls in your mouth… no matter what –testing pearls for quality is something that is done in your hand and with your educated eyeballs.
Costume jewelry necklaces can be simple like a strand of faux pearls or complex like a statement necklace or a collar piece made of various metals, beads, oversized enamel flowers, delicately set Austrian crystals, or rare and colorful stones. Matching sets are all the rage with collectors with necklaces and bracelets that match earrings. Pins and necklaces can also be united as a set with earrings and bracelets adding to the bling for interested collectors and new market buyers.

Condition, quality materials and deterioration will impact how much a piece of costume jewelry will sell for. For instance, if you see green residue on your piece of costume jewelry, thing twice before purchasing. If the finish on the metal is delaminating or flaking off, you may want to keep shopping as these are signs of low-quality items.

2. Never Overlook the Mark

brooks costume jewelry mark

Many pieces of costume jewelry are marked and that will help you to correctly identify and value costume jewelry by its maker, time period, country of origin, etc. The marks are important but they are not the end all, be all. If you learn the marks, you will be glad you did as this will teach you which pieces are most sought after and which pieces are hot on the collectibles or resale market.

Most people recognize a Hattie Carnegie, Weiss, Miriam Haskell, Monet, Napier, Chanel, Tiffany & Company, Marvella, Kenneth Jay Lane, Lisner, or Trifari mark on a piece of costume jewelry but don’t overlook the lesser-known marks on junk or junque jewelry as it is called such as Coro, Carolee, Renoir, Matisse, Bluette, Deltah, Brooks, Accessocraft, Larel, Schreiner, RMN (Roman), Winart, Vogue, Bogoff, Streiner, Loran Sim, Pennino, Jonette (JJ), Jomaz, Lonnie Lovness, and so very many others. Valuable costume jewelry pieces come in all shapes, sizes, and types so don’t look down your nose at the lesser-known names as these designers offer some great designs, innovative use of materials, and stunning costume jewelry sets.

While marks are not the only thing, the placement of the mark will help you identify valuable costume jewelry too. For instance, if your piece of costume jewelry has a tag with the maker’s name or mark on it, that differs from a piece where the mark is integrated into the piece itself. If a logo tag is added to a necklace chain, that is different from a piece where the logo is embossed into the clasp of the piece. These types of marks may help you date a piece as attached tags are usually younger pieces than other logos options.

3. Don’t Ignore Unmarked Pieces

These pieces can also be valuable too even though they don’t have an obvious mark. Many of these unmarked pieces can be identified with the help of a professional loupe. See my recommended loupe so you can use the type of expert loupe that I use to magnify the costume jewelry details. I also recommend a gemstone tester to be sure you don’t mistake a piece of real fine jewelry for a piece of costume jewelry. You wouldn’t want to confuse a diamond for a rhinestone. It makes sense to check it out with a gemstone tester to value costume jewelry.

Why are unmarked items still of value, you ask? Design, materials, and time period or era are why many people don’t care about buying a marked or signed piece of costume jewelry. Many collectors feel that if the design is good, the piece of costume jewelry will have interest in the market because jewelry lovers like good design, chic look, and fashionable sparkle. Many don’t care so much about the logo or mark in the current market.

If the materials are of high quality, then that speaks volumes about how good a piece will look and how easily a piece will sell on the resale market. If the piece recalls the popular look of a particular era or time period– like a poodle pin from the 1950s, a bold yellow lucite daisy statement necklace on a long chain of the 1960s, or an oval turquoise ring set in silver that could have been worn by Cher in the 1970s– then an unmarked piece will attract buyers and maintain value driving the market for the unmarked, too.

When it comes to junk or junque jewelry, there are many things to look for –not only marks or no marks– in order to spot a great piece. Costume jewelry designers can make pieces that would be cost prohibitive if they were made using real gemstones or precious metals. Costume jewelry pieces can do what fine jewelry can’t by putting together great looking faux gemstones and metals without breaking the bank. Be open to new styles or new materials when shopping for costume jewelry pieces. Classic styles are always in vogue and they will serve you well when reselling costume jewelry items. And, trendy or fun pieces like necklaces, anklets, bracelets, earrings, pins, or brooches featuring new materials or seasonal colors will bring some flash to your fine and faux jewelry collection.

Don’t be overzealous cleaning costume jewelry pieces and don’t use harsh cleaners as they may damage these pieces. Remember that some of the best pieces of costume jewelry from various designers can look just as good as fine jewelry and cost a fraction of the price of real jewelry. Use these tips, an educated pair of eyes, and a recommended loupe and gemstone tester to find your next best piece of costume jewelry. You’ll love the way costume jewelry pieces of all types will add new life to your wardrobe and fashion accessories collection.

I can also help you identify and value your costume jewelry during a video call or you can send me photos. Check out the options and get started. Watch videos on my YouTube channel as I show you how to sell your costume jewelry too.

Read More »