I’m often asked what I look for when valuing antique jewellery. I have extensive experience in the field of antique jewellery having spent ten years as Head of Jewellery at a leading auction house, and have valued and successfully sold many important collections over the years. Here’s some of my process:

If it’s a ring, I put it on my finger to get the proportion and scale – checking that the settings are aren’t too heavy  and they are well crafted.. If a setting is too chunky, it doesn’t reveal the colour or beauty of the stone enough. Equally a well crafted setting indicates that someone felt the stone was worthwhile taking time over.

Next, I look at the colour. This can help limit the type of gemstone it is. For instance, if it was light blue it could be a sapphire, topaz or aquamarine.

I can ascertain the overall quality of the stone by using an eye glass and I’m looking for the saturation of colour and how well it travels through the stone. I can also see how many inclusions there are which indicate the quality. The fewer inclusions, which are materials trapped in the stone when it was growing, the better the quality and would show more of the true colour.

I then look at the general condition of the piece so if the stones are chipped or scuffed, or a ring shank is thin or has broken claws, it is going to affect the value.

And finally, I consider where the piece has come from. I recently acquired a basic silver & turquoise ring which was in bad condition and worth about £10.  But the customer had proof it was owned by none other than guitar legend Jimi Hendrix which made it much more desirable and worth far more!

Originally published in the Purbeck Gazette on 24th June 2024