How an NYC Influencer Found out What Her Jewelry Is Worth 🤑
A jewelry collection is a little bit magical. Of course the pieces themselves are beautiful on the surface (that’s the point), but what’s hidden within them are their stories — whether they’ve been passed down, gifted or picked up on travels — and also their value. Without the training of a gemologist, it can be hard to see with your own eyes. And while some things have a permanent place in your collection, others can come and go at the right time to make way for new investments and evolving style, and then knowing their worth is eye-opening. To find out about her jewelry and handbag collections, Influencer Elyse Cohen met up with Senior Valuation Manager Katherine Ward and Handbag Valuation Manager Claire DeBoer at our SoHo Luxury Consignment Office, and we followed along.
First we spoke with Elyse.
How long have you been consigning?
EC: I have been consigning for a little over a year. I try to consign as much as possible — every couple of weeks — so I can look forward to a commission payment each month!
Have you ever come in for a valuation before? What made you want to know how much your pieces are worth?
EC: Yes! Visiting a RealReal expert for a valuation is a very important part of the process (especially when it is a sentimental piece) because it greatly influences my decision to sell. I love that it is a no-pressure environment, so even after learning the value of the item, I still have the option to keep or sell.
Can you tell us the stories behind the pieces you brought in to be valued?
EC: I brought in designer handbags that my mother passed down to me as well as a Van Cleef necklace that I received as a high school graduation present and a Bvlgari watch.
Now that you know the value, are you thinking of consigning or keeping these pieces?
EC: I decided to keep the handbags and watch and sell the Van Cleef necklace. Getting these numbers from an expert truly helped me make my decision!
Upper left: Bvlgari Tubogas watch, valued at $11,525
You’re a fashion blogger and must need new things to wear constantly. How does consigning play into your life?
EC: Consigning with The RealReal was truly a game changer for me! It’s extremely helpful being able to sell clothing, shoes, jewelry and handbags since I’m constantly taking photos wearing different outfits. By doing so, I can make room in my apartment for new items that I can purchase with my commission payment.
Does working with the experts at The RealReal influence what you consign?
EC: Yes. It is so helpful to get an opinion from someone who is knowledgeable about what may or may not be accepted or how much an item is worth. Sometimes it’s hard to part ways with certain pieces in my wardrobe and it’s nice to be able to go through my closet with an expert on the spot because I’ll end up consigning items that I wasn’t originally planning on selling.
Then we got the backstory from experts Katherine and Claire.
What is your background in gemology?
Katherine Ward: I am a Graduate Gemologist with a background in Art History. My undergraduate degree in Art History is from Syracuse University. While studying in Florence, Italy with Syracuse I was fortunate to work at the Library of the Uffizi Gallery. I earned my Graduate Gemologist Diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and have worked in jewelry ever since; at Tiffany & Co. for six years, as well as in the estate market as a jewelry buyer and at several auction houses including Christie’s.
How does a jewelry valuation appointment at the LCO typically work?
KW: I meet with clients who are curious about the value of their collection in a private office environment. We look at anything and everything a consignor is curious about, carefully inspecting each piece. Every piece of jewelry and every watch tells a story. I examine pieces and look for clues as to how and when it was made. Is this colorless stone a diamond? Does this tiny stamp inside represent a famous maker? How well does this watch keep time? Each factors into the potential value of an item, along with things like availability and market demand. After inspecting, authenticating and researching the collection, I present my client with a valuation document which details each piece and proposed pricing for sale on The RealReal. Clients leave our appointment with information and pricing whether they consign or not. Often clients will return a week or two later and consign after exploring other options — something we strongly encourage.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve had someone consign at one of your appointments?
KW: How much time do you have? We see a little bit of everything. I’ve valued a watch discovered at the bottom of a lake (still keeping perfect time), celebrities’ collections (confidential, as with all consignors), Fabergé brooches and million dollar diamonds.
Can you tell us about how you valued each of Elyse’s jewelry pieces and why they are worth what they are worth?
KW: Elyse has great taste! It’s always great to see how consignors’ personalities translate to their collections. We discussed some truly iconic 20th century designs as well as emerging talent making their mark today.
Katherine inspects Elyse’s Van Cleef & Arpels Vintage Alhambra Necklace, valued at $6,695
Van Cleef is widely regarded as one the top jewelry makers in the world. The Alhambra has been in consistent demand since Van Cleef introduced the collection in 1968 and celebrities like Princess Grace of Monaco began collecting various iterations. We analyze the performance of similar items and determine how this cachet translates to the estate market. Because of its perennial popularity the Alhambra commands a great deal of strength in the estate market, and in this case The RealReal price is over 80% of the current price at Van Cleef. Despite that high secondary market price, I’m happy to report that it sold already!
This is a personal favorite and an icon of Bvlgari design. Bvlgari introduced the collection in the late ‘40s and the name and design both evoke industrial influences (tubogas literally means ‘gas pipe’). This multicolored gold version, one of many produced by Bvlgari over the years, wraps around the wrist in a coy reference to another iconic Bvlgari design, the Serpenti. This instantly recognizable look sells effectively on our site at $11,525.
Claire inspects Elyse’s Blue Zanzibar Hermès Birkin, valued at $14,500
What is the craziest thing you’ve had someone consign at one of your appointments?
Claire DeBoer: An Hermès Himalayan Birkin. This is the most rare Birkin you can come across and most people will never seen one in their lifetime. I was also able to authenticate and price an Hermès Micro Birkin. These bags are rare and so small your iPhone won’t even fit in them! A very cool and cute collector’s piece.
Can you tell us about how you valued each of Elyse’s handbags and why they are worth what they are worth?
CD: When evaluating any Hermès bag we look at the date stamp first. Seeing when a bag was manufactured is going to tell us how old it is and affect pricing significantly. Next we look at the size, color, type of leather and condition. Blue Zanzibar is a coveted color that came out in 2017, so there is high market demand for it. Mini-sized handbags are very trendy right now, so the 25 size is also going to demand a high price point. Lastly, Togo leather is one of the classic Hermès leathers, so it sells really well. Knowing all of these things and searching through our vast history of sales, we came to the conclusion that $14,500 is currently the best selling price.
Elyse’s Chanel Clutch is valued at $2,700