Every week I receive over a dozen queries such as this:
Hi Paula, I have a necklace that belongs to my sister. Her husband died, and she is trying to liquidate some of her assets. Where can I find out how much it is worth, and where can I sell it for her? We have been to the local jewelers, and he said it was silver. It has several turquoise stones. I think it is called a squash necklace. Thank you for your help, June
Usually I reply suggesting the person read this article which provides much valuable information about selling used Native American jewelry to us.
It outlines the process we use and it also lists the various factors that affect price.
The artist’s reputation
The scarcity of the artist’s work
The age of the piece
The quality of workmanship
The condition (see specifics below)
The weight of sterling silver and gold used
The quality and size of the stones used
The overall aesthetics of the piece.
In addition, the scale of the piece will also affect price. Many people today shop for items of wearable art so look for pieces that aren’t too large, long or heavy. Many squash blossom necklaces are beautiful but are too much necklace for many people to wear. The same goes for some of the masterpiece bracelets – beautiful to look at but impractical to wear.
Size also is a big factor – we have a good idea of what sizes of bracelets and rings sell the best for us and also the length of necklaces that are most popular. We take all of these things into consideration.
It is not uncommon for someone to write us hoping an item will bring $1500 when in fact its current value is about $300. Really the best way to find value is to send or take the item to a person experienced and knowledgeable about Native American jewelry. (If you take your items to a pawn shop, if the items are sterling silver, you will likely be offered scrap or melt value. That will be the subject of a future article.)
If you don’t want to ship the items and you don’t have a local expert, one good way to get an idea of what your item would sell for is to use eBay as a reference tool. The eBay marketplace will give you a rough idea of retail value since most of the shoppers there are individuals like you. There are very specific ways to drill down to an accurate market value of a piece.
First log on to eBay
In the search box type in a description that you think another seller might use to describe your piece.
Let’s use “turquoise squash blossom necklace”. Type that in and then click on Search. In my example you’ll see that search turned up 497 items. (By the way, if you are having trouble reading these screen shots of eBay, hit CTRL +++ to enlarge the font on your screen.)
In the left hand column, under categories, click on Ethnic, Regional and Tribal
That reduces the group to 324 items.
In the left hand column, click on Native American
That reduces the group to 301 items.
This shows the items currently for sale that are like your item. You can browse through this list to see what sellers are currently ASKING for their pieces but a MUCH BETTER way to learn what your item is worth, is the following.
Next to the blue SEARCH button in the upper right of the screen is the word Advanced. Click on that.
It will take you to this screen.
Look for the section that is headed
Search including (at the bottom of the above screen shot)
and click on the box in front of
This will take you to a page (in my example) with 912 items that were listed with the words “turquoise squash blossom necklace” and were in the Native American category and that either sold or went unsold within the last 60 days. If you have your eBay window set to show 100 items per page, you will have 9 long pages to scroll through !! Get that cup of coffee !
As you browse note this. Toward the right hand side of each listing, if the price is in red that means the item didn’t get a single bid and didn’t sell.
If the item price is green and there is a SOLD box near it, that means the item sold for that price.
When you find an item that looks similar to yours, you can click on the item and it will take you to that item’s individual page where you can find out more information such as age, whether sterling, weight, condition, hallmarks and you can usually see a number of better close-up photos to help you compare the item to the one you are trying to evaluate. Cracked stones, missing pieces and other damage really lower an item’s price.
So if you see a similar item to yours and it sold for $100, that give you a ballpark idea of what the market will bear – what your item is worth out there in the real world of buyers. What the market is willing to pay.
If you see a similar item to your own that has a price of $800 but the item is UNSOLD, all that tells you is that someone asked $800 for it but didn’t get it. Often when you scroll through listings you will see the same item appear several times – as each auction expires, the item goes unsold and the seller relists it. You might see the price lowering over time or the seller might invite offers with the Best Offer feature.
The bottom line is, the best way to find out what your items are worth is to find a person knowledgeable and experienced in Native American jewelry. You can also use eBay to help you get a ball park figure on what an item similar to yours has sold for in the recent past.
Best of luck and soon I will write an article about melt value and another with advice on what listing your item on eBay entails.