Jewelry is one of the most commonly passed down possessions and something that many people treasure for generations. Of course, not everyone shares the same tastes and many inherited pieces are tucked away and left unworn. Instead of storing items it makes more sense to make them available to people who will appreciate them. Auctions are an easy way to expose the jewelry to a wide range of people and potentially make a profit on something that would have been forgotten about otherwise. Here are some tips to help sellers get the most from the pieces they inherit. 

Get an Appraisal

Auction houses often have appraisers on hand, but having an independent appraisal from a jeweler will help in several ways. It makes certain the jewelry has value. It is not uncommon for people to overestimate the value of their own jewelry. In addition, people who suffer through hard financial times often resort to selling off valuables. There are times when, in order to keep the ring or brooch they love, they will sell the genuine gems in the setting and replace them with inexpensive replicas. What might have once been a beautiful pair of diamond and ruby earrings may now be shiny red and white glass. Visiting a jeweler also makes it possible to clean, polish and repair the items that are worth auctioning.

Protect the Antiques

People need to be cautious if repairs are needed for antique jewelry. It is possible to lower the value by not having the work performed correctly. Any pieces with a high value should be taken to a certified master jeweler for inspection and repair. They will determine if the piece is only possible to conserve - a process that keeps the items stable and secure for display only, or if they can be restored. With restoration the jeweler carefully selects authentic period materials to replace anything damaged or missing on the jewelry. This is not an inexpensive process, so only the most valuable jewelry will be worth the time and investment. 

Consider the Alternatives

Some of the jewelry may have little collectible value and is not worth the expense of repair. However, this does not make it worthless. If the jewelry contains genuine gems and precious metals, consider scrapping the individual parts rather than auctioning the pieces. Gold and silver buyers may offer more for the weight of the metal than what it would be worth as a ring or bracelet. Sell the loose gemstones to a jeweler or contact the auction house to see if the loose stones might be worth more on auction. 

Contact an Auctioneer

Consignment auctions are held at auction houses and include the possessions of a variety of different sellers. This type of environment is usually more profitable than if you were to sell jewelry at auction. A greater number of interested buyers will be in attendance when there is a larger array of items up for sale. The opportunity for more interest and higher bids is possible when the crowd is larger. Look for auction houses that are known for offering unique items, antiques and popular collectibles. This encourages buyers that are willing to spend more than the people who are at auctions to find cheap furniture or other basic household items. 

Auction houses keep the jewelry in their possession until after the auction, so choosing a reputable business is important. Consider placing a reserve price on jewelry if an offer has been made on that specific piece by a jeweler, friend or someone else. Nothing is more frustrating than assuming everything will rake in bids only to see it sell for a fraction of what someone else was willing to pay. Also, be aware of the fees the auction house charges because they can add up. Some will charge storage fees, handling fees and additional fees for items with reserve prices. Of course all auction houses charge a commission as well.