I was visiting some cousins of mine a few years ago after their mother – my aunt - had died. While we were sitting around catching up and chatting, one of them came into the room with a jewelry box and said, “Here’s that box of costume jewelry that we were talking about – we should all take a look and pick a few items that we’d like to have.”
As they started to pass the box around, I asked “Who said that there’s nothing in there but costume jewelry?”
One of my cousins answered, “Well, mom always said that she kept her costume jewelry in this box.”
I urged them to take a closer look, and one of my cousins pulled out two small items – a small decorative pin and a little pendant watch – that appeared to be made of yellow gold, and which needed a closer examination by a qualified appraiser or precious metals refinery.
As I think you will agree, that story illustrates how easy it is to make quick – and wrong – decisions when liquidating an estate. There are so many details to handle, and so much property to look at, that it is all too easy to let valuable property get away. Here are smart steps to take instead.
Ask a Lot of Questions
That’s what my cousins weren’t doing in the story that I told at the start of today’s post. Their mom had always told them that the jewelry box contained “costume jewelry,” and they accepted that without exploring any further.
People can make this mistake not just with precious metals, but with other estate items too. An “old decorative print that Auntie bought at a tag sale” could be a valuable original oil painting, and “Pop’s favorite old rocking chair” could be a valuable antique. So when you are dealing with an estate, get into the habit of looking at every item with critical eyes – and bring in a qualified appraiser to look everything over.
Avoid Turning Everything Over to One Antique Dealer
Most antique dealers are honest businesspeople who will alert you if they think they have found something valuable among the items that you are liquidating. But even honest antique dealers are in the business of acquiring items and selling them at a profit. If they discover something quite valuable among your items, they will acquire it from you at a low price and then sell it at a profit, because that is their business.
The message is that even though it is time-consuming and complex to look at all the items in an estate to find that one valuable item in 1,000, it can be worth the time you invest. So instead of calling an antique dealer first, consider having an independent appraiser review what you have. To find a qualified appraiser in your area, visit the American Society of Appraisers online.
Let Us Review All Your Metal Items
Most estates contain items that contain precious metals, including jewelry, silver items and silver-plated items. Although many of them might look similar to you, their value can vary dramatically. One example? Two silver-plated spoons that contain identical quantities of silver can be worth very different amounts of money if one of them has collectible value.
If you are not sure what kinds of metal items you have inherited, your next step is to call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. We’re here to provide information, and your call to us could help you discover all the dollars that could be hiding in the estate you have inherited.
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