In these tough economic times, we are receiving increasingly more offers to buy your Native American jewelry. While we like to help and respond to every query, we can’t buy it all !! So I thought I’d outline some options for turning your jewelry into cash.
To prevent disappointment, follow these tips before you price and offer your item for sale:
If it is a vintage piece, don’t clean it with silver polish before you show it for sale.
Examine it carefully for any signs of damage: missing stones, cracked stones, bent silver.
Know what you have. If you are going to advertise a pieces as sterling silver and turquoise, be sure it is sterling silver and made with real turquoise stones.
Do your homework on hallmarks and artists. Be prepared to supply receipts of purchase, certificates of authenticity or other verification if you are selling highly collectible and more expensive pieces.
Once you think you know what you have, you need to establish value.
To get an idea of what your jewelry will bring on the market, read “What is my Squash Blossom Necklace Worth”
Once you’ve established your asking price, write up an honest, detailed description with as much factual information as you have including metal, stones, size, weight, all dimensions, hallmarks, condition and anything else to help the buyer know what you have.
Now there are a number of sales avenues you can follow.
Private sale – Here is where you would be most likely to get the highest price for your item because you are selling directly to someone with no middle man. A private sale might take place by word of mouth or via a newspaper ad (either print or online).
Yard sale – If you or a friend or family member is having a yard sale, it might be a good place to offer your items for sale. Few associated selling costs and usually quick, cash transactions.
Local flea market – Some flea markets offer to sell things on consignment or they offer booths where you can sell them. But since many large markets are designed to have unattended booths, security is one of the main issues I see with this approach because the flea markets are often huge and don’t have staff monitoring the spaces. Flea Markets are great for that butter churn that nobody could sneak out under their T shirt but if you leave small jewelry items out on a table, they could disappear. If you lock them in a cabinet, the customer would have to find a market employee to open the cabinet in order to see the item. So not the best in my opinion.
Pawn Shop – When you sell Native American jewelry to a pawn shop, plan on being offered scrap value. Read about how scrap value is calculated in “What is my scrap sterling silver jewelry worth?”
Auction – There aren’t many auctions specifically devoted to Native American jewelry around the country and those that are, would be located in the southwest and probably would be comprised of major, more valuable pieces. Auction commissions run about 30% of the final value and there might be other fees tacked on such as a 10% buyer’s fee, a reserve fee, a withdrawal fee, shipping fees and others. Auctions are usually not suitable for the average Native American jewelry – only the highly collectible items and at targeted auctions. So a bracelet that brings $500 at auction will likely net you $250 to $350.
On line auction – Many auction houses hold the sale live at a particular location but also accept bids via internet, telephone and other means. With that said, there are also auctions that are solely held on line. eBay is a subtype of that which I will cover next, but there are a number of other on line auctions that would be suitable venues for selling Native American jewelry. I’d suggest typing “Native American jewelry auction” in your favorite search engine and browse through the results. Commissions and fees will be similar to those of conventional auctions. You will be responsible for providing information on the piece and shipping costs.
eBay is a self-serve auction format that is going on all the time. You take your own photographs, write up the item descriptions, set your asking price, buy-it-now price, reserve, and shipping costs. You are responsible for your claims, so if you say something is sterling silver, it must be, or the item could be returned to you. Once you get your account set up and listing ready, you basically wait to see if anyone is interested. If your item sells, you will pay eBay a 10% commission plus other fees including a listing fee and 2.9% fee for accepting payment through PayPal. So figure you’ll end up with 85% of the final price. So that $500 bracelet will net you $425 IF it sells. Be sure you read the article I refer to above where I suggest using eBay as a way to help you establish the market value of your item. If you list an item at a realistic price, it will sell more quickly. So if you see that very similar bracelets have sold between $300-425 on eBay and you ask $500 for yours, you might end up re-listing it several times, each time incurring more listing fees and not taking in any money. If you ask $300, it might sell quickly but then you’d only net $255 on that sale and you might wish you had asked more. There is usually a sweet spot, maybe $375 where you might have to wait a little longer but when you get your 85%, it will be $319, maybe a little closer to what you feel you can accept financially and emotionally to part with your piece. To get a close estimate as to what it will cost you to sell you item on eBay, you can use their fee calculator.