What it's Worth

There is much confusion about the term and brand name Tiffany, as the name has had many incarnations. That includes certain engagement ring mountings. The only true Tiffany mounting is signed Tiffany. It is not a generic term. 

This rather dated circa-1970s 2.08 ct diamond was brought to us by a lovely, distraught woman who had inadvertently dropped her precious ring down the garbage disposal. While diamonds are very hard, they are also brittle – and will break and crack under pressure, especially the edge or girdle of the diamond. 

Often there are mitigating circumstances that make the most beautiful bracelets worth less than you’d expect. It this case, the 1940s retro deco, rose and green gold styling would indicate a value of $5,000 – $7,000.

These bracelets are rarely seen with such a wide footprint. In this case, the bracelet is over 35mm wide, or about an inch and a half. While the condition is excellent and the styling extraordinary, the bracelet is less than 6 inches long, which renders its value only slightly higher than its gold value.

Emerald is one of the most beautiful gemstones in the world. It is also one of the most misunderstood – and difficult to put a value on. Emeralds are actually beryl. Beryl’s name changes according to its natural color. Both morganite (a soft pink), and aquamarine are beryl. When medium to deep intense green, beryl is emerald. 

Emeralds are at once common and incredibly abundant, and conversely – as in the case of true gem-quality stones – unbelievably rare and expensive. 

A jeweler in Illinois called us to “crack the code” of a ring he had purchased. He knew it had some importance, but couldn’t figure out what. The seal on the intagliocarved amethyst depicted a papal hat from Cairo. On the inside was engraved C.R.H. JAN. 12, 1871, A.Mc.K.T.W ST. MARKS. 

Cameo collecting reached its peak in the 1980s with collectors clamoring for the finest, most deftly cut and interesting pieces – and some of them fetched $10,000 or more. Sadly, cameo collecting in 2016 is at its nadir – typically bringing 10 to 25 percent of the 1980s-era value. 

We entered the fine and decorative arts business because we love history; we were collectors and researchers long before we were dealers. While we have a robust business buying and selling, at the core, we are simply historians. 

When a historical piece was recently presented to us to buy, we quickly identified it as a multi-interest collectible of high desirability and made an offer far beyond its gold price, after the seller had taken it to several high-profile buyers in Tampa Bay. 

By the 1960s, many gemologists thought they had seen everything – only to be surprised by the discovery in Tanzania (hence its name) of an exciting “new” gemstone. 

Often, when asked to appraise an item of value, visitors in our stores or offices seem a bit befuddled and sometimes even annoyed at our resulting follow-up questions. When we ask “What kind of appraisal value?” we always explain that the conventional definitions of appraisal often differ from the official meanings of the word. Here I will share a condensed version of the various definitions and uses of the word.

What's it Worth? The Many Faces of Jade. 

Jade valuation is determined by many factors — some technical, some aesthetic, some scientific and some historical. For millennia, jade was used for utilitarian purposes, like cups and buckles. Many ancient pieces of jade were repurposed in the late 19th century as jewelry. Jade can be jadeite — the finest form – or nephrite.