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Why's my jewelry worth less than the appraisal?

 High Resale Mark Up, 80% on Average

This is the most frequently asked question, and so it is first on the FAQ list.

Here is the typical scenario: A client calls me and wants to sell her ring. I ask her to text me a picture of the ring, and the appraisal. She sends me an appraisal stating her ring contains a 1ct round diamond with G color and SI1 clarity, value is $8500.

There are 3 main reasons the cash wholesale value will be MUCH LESS:


Are all diamond certificates accurate?

 The short answer is no.

The only really reputable and accurate certificate out there is GIA (Gemological Institute of America). Established in 1931, GIA is the company that invented the current 4 C’s grading system that is used around the world today. All dealers in the business trust a GIA certificate and even trade amongst other dealers without even seeing the stone in person!

The bottom line is, if you have a certificate from another company, it is almost certainly incorrect. Depending on which lab, it could be over graded from 1 to 5 grades! This will have a tremendous impact on the cash value of your diamond.

EGL USA and AGS tend be the closest to accurate and are usually only off by 1 color grade and sometimes they are correct on clarity. Any other diamond certificate you have, is a good starting point for reference, but cannot be taken seriously.

So for example, if you contact me with a 1ct round diamond with a GIA certificate stating G color SI1 clarity my offer would be around $3000 to $4000 depending on cut grade, polish, symmetry and fluorescence. However, if you contacted me with the same stone except it has an IGI certificate, I would need to assume the stone is I color and I1 clarity and the estimate would be $1500 to $2500.


What’s the value of gold & silver coins & bars?

 You can look up the current “Spot Price”

The current “Spot Price” of gold and silver by visiting sites such as kitco.com. The price of gold and silver changes throughout the day, but I can tell you in terms of percentage what I pay.

For basic gold and silver bullion I pay no less than 90% of the current spot price. So, if the price of gold today is $1280/oz and you are selling a 1 ounce gold bar, my price would be $1152.

For government issued coins such as American Eagles and Canadian Maples, I usually can pay up to 95% depending on the quantity you are selling. If you have a large collection the rate will be 95% or better!


What’s the value of scrap gold?

 The current “Spot Price”

In general any gold item has an intrinsic value based simply on the amount of gold that it contains. So for items which are not resalable such as basic gold chains, bracelets, earrings etc. the price will be based on the gram weight of the gold, and the purity level of the gold.

Cook County Buyers always pays at least 75% of the full “melt value” of your scrap gold items. For quantities of 100 grams or more, we pay 80%. And sometimes even higher rates for very large amounts of gold!

As an example, with gold at $1300 per ounce, here are the minimum payouts for the different purities of gold per gram.

  • 10k gold $13.10/gram
  • 14k gold $18.30/gram
  • 18k gold $ 23.50/gram
  • 22k gold $28.75/gram
  • 24k gold $30.86/gram

CCB pay-out is higher for larger quantities.


What’s the value of a gold watch?

 Call CCB for a Quote

During the last 60 years, millions of watches have been made from solid gold, under 1000’s of different brands. Many of these watches were made in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s when gold was much cheaper (around $200 per ounce!) Therefore, it wasn’t a big deal to use a couple ounces of gold to make a solid gold watch. However with the gold price now around $1200 per ounce or more, these watches are worth more for their scrap gold content then their value as a watch.

Most gold watches out there are simply worth the scrap value of the gold that they contain. The movement and other non-gold parts are removed and the gold portion is weighed to determine the pay out. However there are a few gold watches that obviously command a premium over the gold content.

Rolex and Patek Philippe are the two that will always be worth substantially more than the gold value. Other brands that sometimes command a small to medium premium over the gold value are Breitling, Omega, Audemars Piquet, Cartier, Panerai, LeCoultre, Piaget, and Corum. Send me pictures of your watch and any info you may have for a free rough estimate of value.


Is my silver real?

 The pieces must be marked “Sterling” or “925”

Everyone “knows” that their silver items are real because it was there grandma’s silver and it’s been in the family for generations right? Plus it’s all tarnished so that must mean its real right? WRONG. The fact is, at least 75% of the time someone contacts me with their silver items they turn out to be only silver plated. These items have little to no value. The good news is it’s relatively easy to determine of your items are real silver.

90% of the pieces you are likely to have were made here in the USA and these pieces must be marked “Sterling” or “925” if they are real silver (unless they were made before 1850). Take a minute to look on the backs of flatware handles, and the bottoms or edges of teapots, candlesticks, platters, and other silver items. Once you have found a marking that says “Sterling” or sometimes “925” then you know you have real silver. This mark almost always accompanies a manufacturer such as Towle, Wallace, Reed & Barton, Gorham, etc.

Here is a list of markings that are commonly found that are usually NOT REAL SILVER:

  • International Silver Company
  • Rogers Bros.
  • E.P. (electroplate)
  • E.P.N.S. (elctroplate nickel silver, aka not real silver)
  • Silver Plate
  • Community Plate
  • Oneida
  • Nickel Silver
  • *Anything here* Silver Co.
  • *Anything here* plate

Another thing I have noticed is that silver plated items usually tarnish with a slight rainbow affect to the surface, whereas real sterling items never have a rainbow affect and only tarnish to a dull gray color. This is an easy visual way of helping to sort real from plated silver.


Are my non-US silver items real?

 Look for least 4 small hallmarks

If your items were made somewhere else in the world such as England, they will not say sterling, but instead they will have at least 4 small hallmarks. These marks are used to guarantee sterling silver, and also give more information such as the location the item was made, and the year it was produced, and the manufacturer of the item.

Here is a great website with visual examples of genuine sterling silver marks as well as silver plated marks, feel free to compare the markings you find on your items to learn if they are real silver.

Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks


What’s my silver worth?

 Most are only worth its weight in silver

The majority of the sterling items around are only worth their weight in silver, with a few acceptations. So with that in mind, it is very easy to determine what your sterling items are worth. Simply check the current “Spot price” of silver at a site such as kitco.com. The current spot price is for pure .999 silver, however sterling items are only 92.5% pure so adjust the spot price down 7.5% to determine the full “melt” value of your sterling items. I always pay at least 75% of the melt value of your items, and more for collectible items.

Here is an example: Say today you check online and find the current “Spot” price of silver is $16 per ounce. You need to subtract 7.5% to adjust the price to sterling. Do this by simply multiplying $16 by .925 ($16x.925=$14.80/oz).

Next take 75% of this amount ($14.80x.75=$11.10/oz)

Therefore, I would be paying $11.10 per ounce for your basic sterling silver items.

One thing to note is that precious metals like gold and silver are bought and sold in troy ounces as opposed to standard ounces. Troy ounces contain 31.1 grams, whereas standard (avoirdupois) ounces contain 28.35 grams. If you weigh your items on a standard scale you will need to adjust the weight of ounces by multiplying by .911. Here’s an example:

You weigh your items on a postal scale and determine that you have 90 ounces of silver. Multiply 90x.9115=82.03 so 90 standard ounces is just over 82 troy ounces.


Items that are worth more than just silver value

 A prominent piece like; Tiffany & Co., Cartier, or Georg Jensen

Sometimes you may have a sterling item from a prominent maker such as Tiffany & Co., Cartier or Georg Jensen, just to name a few. Antique pieces from the US and around the world can also bring large premiums. If you think you may have a special item to sell, feel free to send pictures and details of your items and I will tell you if they are worth a better premium, or if they are simply treated as regular sterling silver.


What's the value of weighted sterling items?

 The inside is filled with stone

Some sterling items are weighted. This means the inside of the item is filled with stone. Although these items can be very heavy, they contain very little actual sterling silver. These pieces are always also marked “weighted” on the bottom. Most commonly candlesticks and candelabras are weighted. The sterling silver that is on the outside of these items is very thin, similar to a heavy duty aluminum foil.

We do buy these items, but can only pay at 10% of the weight. So if you have a large set of sterling weighted candelabras that weigh 100 ounces, I would buy them as 10 ounces. Due to the low value of weighted items, I do require around 30 pounds of weighted sterling for an appointment. However, feel free to bring along even small amounts of weighted silver to an appointment to sell solid silver, gold, diamonds or other estate jewelry.


How to sell a loose diamond?

 Basically the same as mounted diamonds

If you have a loose diamond to sell you either took it out of a piece of jewelry, bought it to set in a piece of jewelry, or got really lucky and found it! If you found a loose diamond, first take it to a local jewelry to make sure it is real, and get the weight and basic quality estimates. Then share that info we me for a free quote. Loose diamonds are no different in value from diamonds that are already mounted in a ring or other piece of jewelry.

If you have a certificate for your loose diamond, that will be very helpful to determine its value. Keep in mind that a GIA certificate is much more useful than any other certificate. Jewelry Certificate


How to sell gemstones?

 Same as loose diamonds

Gemstones are divided into 2 categories: Precious and semi-precious. Precious stones are diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. All other stones are considered semi-precious.

The majority of colored stones have very little if any resale value with the acceptation of the precious stones rubies, sapphires, emeralds. Semi-precious stones such as amethyst, garnet, citrine, peridot, blue topaz, smoky quartz, and onyx look very nice in jewelry, but usually do not add any resale value. Sometimes semi-precious stones like natural opal, aquamarine, and natural alexandrite can also have substantial value when they are larger and very fine quality.

However, if you have a nice ring, pendant or earrings in gold or platinum with small diamonds and semi-precious stones, I can often pay a premium for the item based on it being a good looking piece of jewelry. I don’t treat all semi-precious gemstone jewelry as only scrap, like many gold buyers do.

Larger size natural rubies, emeralds, sapphires, opals, and aquamarines can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you have a very nice estate ring, pendant, earrings or bracelet with fine quality precious gemstones, you will most likely also have an appraisal for it. Feel free to text a picture of the appraisal to me for a quick rough estimate of value.

Larger top grade rubies, sapphires and emeralds can usually only be purchased for a fair price if you have a legitimate certificate accompanying your stone. Because non-heated rubies and sapphires and un-treated natural emeralds can be worth thousands or even tens of thousands, we cannot make offers on these stones unless you have a certificate. Please text a picture of your fine gemstone item along with the Certificate and or appraisal for a free estimate now.


How to sell an entire estate?

 Call Mike at CCB

Cook County Buyers specializes in quickly and accurately assessing the value of an entire collection of jewelry. Basic gold, silver and platinum items will be separated into piles and weighed to determine the intrinsic metal value.

Better pieces will be evaluated on an individual basis. Each nicer resalable item will be weighed individually. Then the diamonds and or gemstones will be measured to determine approximate carat weights and qualities. With this information, a value will be determined based on the current market value and demand for each item.

Nice antique and vintage items will be priced even higher than just the value of the metal, and the value of the stones. The rarity of older items, as well as beauty and condition will all factor into the final value for each item.

After carefully examining each and every item with you, a total price will be calculated by adding the value of each item, as well as the totals for the scrap gold and or silver items.

Even if you have a large box of items, and you are not sure they are all real, Mike will be able to quickly sort the “good stuff” from the costume jewelry. Mike’s knowledge and ability to explain values will make the whole process really easy for you, and at the end you will know you got a fair price for your entire estate jewelry collection.