In simplest terms, all jewelry is worth the value of the stone or stones plus the value of the metal, or value = metal value + gem value. This simple equation values jewelry as recyclable parts rather than a whole piece of jewelry, and the math required to determine the value of the metal and the value of any gems is more complicated.
Silver, gold, platinum and other precious metals are valued as raw materials based on current market rates. If you have a piece of jewelry that is 100 percent gold--you probably don’t--you can simply weigh the gold and then determine its worth based on the current market value of the gold. Most gold jewelry isn’t pure, however. For example, 14 karat gold is 58.33 percent gold. Meanwhile, sterling silver is generally 92.5 percent silver. Once you know the percentage of precious metal in a piece of jewelry, you can calculate the value of the metal based on current market values.
Determining the value of a diamond or another gem in a piece of jewelry is a bit more complicated. The value of a diamond, for example, is the wholesale price of a gem modified by the cut grade of the gem. Wholesale diamond prices change daily, and are influenced by the 4 C’s--cut, clarity, carat, and color.
Once you’ve worked out the intrinsic value of a ring’s raw materials, there’s still one other thing to consider--the craftsmanship that went into the design. This is subjective. Two identical rings can carry different price tags based on the name “Tiffany” stamped on one and not the other.
Determining the value of a piece of jewelry is an art and not a science, and it’s not unusual for different jewelry appraisals in Michigan to come to different conclusions on the very same ring or piece of jewelry. An insurance appraisal, for example, will establish the replacement value of a piece of jewelry--not its actual market value. A jeweler may value jewelry based on the price for which it would retail.
While research, a good calculator, and online appraisal calculators can give you an idea of what your jewelry is worth, taking your pieces to jewelers in Michigan for more input is always a smart move.