The most important factor when choosing heirloom jewelry is knowledge, as knowledge will save one time and money. After doing some exploring, a person might want to focus on a certain collection genre. Some collectors purchase heirloom jewelry that was made during a given time period or by a particular make or designer. Some collectors look for a certain type of jewelry, such as earrings. One should also consider the condition of the pieces before buying because the better the condition of the piece, the more valuable the jewelry is likely to be.
One of the best ways to learn about heirloom jewelry is through books. Local bookstores and libraries stock books that include pictures, descriptions, and suggested values of a variety of types of jewelry. Readers should look at the values as a guideline rather than a hard value. Since many of the authors of these books are also collectors, it is to their advantage to keep the market value of their collection high. Unless the heirloom jewelry is extremely rare or unusual, vintage jewelry can usually be purchased at a lower cost than book value.
In addition to books, websites can provide information on antique jewelry. Collectors' clubs that specialize in a specific type of jewelry may have an online presence that provides information about their chosen jewelry. In addition, online auction houses can give information about jewelry designers, information about market values, and pictures of heirloom jewelry that might not be available in books.
Brick-and-mortar auction houses that sell antiques, collectibles, and jewelry allow collectors to see the heirloom jewelry and inspect it closely. Sometimes jewelry can be purchased inexpensively at an auction if there is not any competition for a piece. In addition, estate sales and garage sales are good places to look for deals on heirloom jewelry. Sometimes the sellers do not know the value of what they are selling.
Condition is important to the value of vintage or antique jewelry. Heirloom jewelry should be as close to original condition as possible. This means that the jewelry should not be repaired or scratched. Of course, if the piece is rare, having a scratched bracelet may be better than having no bracelet at all in a collection.
Jewelry collecting does not necessarily have to be an expensive hobby. Buyers can start with less expensive designers or types of jewelry and build a collection. As this collection grows, less desirable pieces can be sold to fund more purchases or to take the collection in a different direction.