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Learn about Your Family Treasures & How to Make the Most of Them

Chris Underwood
Chris Underwood

Many of us have it – bits and piece of jewellery that we have collected over the years sitting in a drawer. Or maybe that someone has left for the family to distribute. What is important to know is:

  • How old is it?
  • Who may have owned this in the family?
  • Where was it manufactured?
  • What is it made of?
  • What is the approximate value?
  • What shall I do with it?

At some point when we are motivated to do something with our collection, this is what we need to do:

  1. Have your jewellery assessed by a specialist Registered Valuer.
  2. Separate items that have value and those that may just have sentimental value.
  3. Determine the age of each jewellery item and approximate value.
  4. Confirm if each item can be sold and if so, what restoration is required first.
  5. If repairs are needed (and you would like to preserve the item), get an estimate of the cost for restoration.
  6. Consider remodelling to modernize and retain sentiment.
  7. Consider the ways you can preserve and enjoy each piece of jewellery.
  8. Consider options for selling your jewellery.
  9. Learn how to care for and preserve your jewellery.
  10. Consider getting a valuation with the stamp of a Registered Valuer for items of value.
  11. If you have acquired jewellery that you simply wish to sell, first research it on the internet. Take a look at what others are selling the same or similar product for. Then go through the above steps.

Whatever you choose to do, here are some interesting comments on Antique, Estate and Pre-Owned jewellery from one of the masters.

  • An Antique is a collectable item over 100 years old.
  • Frankly, everything old is new again. Remember - it all comes back into style eventually.
  • Diamonds are forever – the hardest natural gemstone. White diamonds, chocolate diamonds, black diamonds, yellow diamonds, pink diamonds – they last and last and last.
  • Diamonds tend to retain value. They fluctuate against US currency, accessibility and market demand.
  • Changing or remodelling an antique piece of jewellery can de-value it.
  • Lorgnette spectacles were glasses used at the Opera. These were attached to a guard chain to magnify viewing. If you have one – try it! A sophisticated fashion statement.
  • An Albert chain is a watch chain that was worn in the 19th century. With a T-bar on one end, it attaches to a button hole on a waistcoat and the other end attaches to a pocket watch with a swivel hook.
  • Brooches were popular at the turn of the 19th century. They can often be converted to a pendant and retain an antique look.
  • Marquisite is a semi-precious gemstone, derived from a natural mineral called Pyrite. It was often used to imitate diamonds due to its’ beautiful glittering metallic lustre.
  • Seed pearls are small natural pearls that were often used in fine decorative jewellery in the latter part of the 19th century and are representative of Victorian fashion of the time.

There are many things to know and learn about collectable jewellery. The following is a story of the journey of learning for Chris Underwood, Master Jeweller.

At the back of a small property on the edge of Parramatta, a ray of light shines into the night - from the corner of a hand-sewn curtain in a tiny home-made garage. Amongst the sounds of nature, the pounding of a hammer goes on and on in rhythmical patterns. Bang bang bang through the day, bang bang bang into the night. The smell of coffee wafts through the air from an open window day after day. Through a slit in the curtain a young man can be seen bent over his jewellers work bench – filing, sanding, rolling out metal and ultimately transforming a chunk of metal into a work of art. The groundwork of a master craftsman is taking place. Endless hours of focus and dedication to the creation of a special piece – and then another – and another – and another. Marking the celebration and expressing the emotion of an engagement – of an anniversary – of a family event. People talk, see the talent and then begin to arrive. No longer a quiet position – the backyard garage becomes a busy place. So it is time to move. To the centre of Parramatta and the big time! Young, yet with years of training and now a skilled jeweller and qualified registered valuer, people come with their treasures. He is fascinated by what he is seeing, particularly in the manufacturing talent of jewellers from the 1800s.

Drawn to the diverse and interesting manufacturing style of the 18th Century Victorian era, he is becoming an expert. With bag in hand he boards the plane to England. There he travels from town to town, searching the country-sides for treasures. They are in every corner – if you can recognize them. He spends hours, days and weeks with antique specialists and small town experts from Birmingham to Aberdeen in Scotland. He has an eye for this and returns to Parramatta with a bag full of treasures and many stories to tell. 

Published on by BiziNet

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