With the price of gold so high, there has been a lot of buzz about selling gold for scrap value. As jewelry appraisers, we’ve been hearing the same phrase from almost all of our clients: “If it’s only worth that, I might as well just scrap it.”
Well, imagine my surprise when the consignor of a wonderful Swiss enamel necklace walked in the door with the same sentiment. We see Swiss enamel jewelry from time to time, mostly in the form of brooches, but a necklace is unusual. Both pieces (pictured here) sold well in Skinner’s spring 2011 Fine Jewelry auction.
Swiss or Geneva enamel jewels are generally comprised of enamel plaques depicting peasants wearing regional dress from the Swiss cantons, or states. They are uncommon after 1840 and can range from simple tourist pieces to very skilled and highly detailed jewelry like the necklace and brooch featured in our jewelry auction.
I was excited when my client showed me the necklace. An examination of the back revealed that it had once been a much more elaborate fringe necklace. Each of the pretzel-shaped links had once suspended a drop similar to the one found in the remaining earring. At some point the owner must have wanted to reduce its size to make a less elaborate statement. Then there were the enamel panels — beautifully painted and in very good condition.
And then, out of nowhere, came the all too familiar phrase, “if you don’t think it’s worth very much, I’m going to scrap it.” Swiss enamel pieces are typically lightweight. I never bothered to put this necklace on the scale, but it could not have been more than 30 or 40 pennyweight (dwt), or about 1.5 troy ounces. After subtracting the weight of the enamel, There might have been only around $1,000-1,500 in gold.
We sold the necklace at auction for $11,000 hammer. The brooch, which had even less gold, hammered at $1,100. Needless to say, we were thrilled with the results. The moral of the story here I suppose is in two parts: first, fine antique jewelry is still worth more than the sum of its parts, and second, check with a knowledgeable jewelry appraiser before melting anything!