Is Designer Jewelry A Better Investment Than No-Name Pieces?

Is jewelry by a designer brand a better investment than other types of jewelry? There's no quick and easy answer to that question, but there are some good and bad things that you should know.

1.) A designer brand can be an indicator of quality.

If a designer brand prides itself on using the best metals, best stones, and best craftsman, that's a good indicator that the piece you are buying will retain its value. You'll be less likely to be disappointed down the line when you're facing an appraiser who has had to gently break the news to you that a piece you paid $1,000 for ten years ago is worth $100 today because the stones are poor in quality, the metal's purity is low, and the craftsmanship is sub par.

2.) You may pay too much for trendy jewelry.

One of the biggest drawbacks to designer jewelry is that it is often trendy -- and trends go as quickly as they come. For example, brooches were once more popular than earrings but are rarely seen on women today. An expensive brooch bought in the 1980s may have actually lost value over time, simply because the item isn't in demand today. However, if you wait, jewelry trends tend to come back in style eventually, which means that the unwanted, unappreciated piece that you're holding onto today can suddenly rise in value tomorrow.

3.) You can lose money by paying for the big name.

If the designer is a big name in the business, you're paying extra for the name when you buy the jewelry. All new jewelry depreciates in value the minute that you buy it because there's a tremendous (and extremely varied) markup on new jewelry -- from 50% to 400%, depending on what you buy. A brand name watch that's seen as a "status symbol" is able to command a bigger price than a no-name piece because some people like to exhibit their social status through their material possessions. If you buy a limited edition designer piece, expect the markup to be painfully high because you're also paying for the advertising.

4.) You can make out big if you buy the early work of new designers.

Designer jewelry as an investment comes with the same advice that you should try to follow when investing in anything: buy early and low, then sell late and high. If you're attracted to a particular designer or two that's still new, invest in a few nice pieces early on. If their career takes off and their jewelry become the next big trend, you can decide if you want to cash in on the popularity and do quite well. Vintage pieces by popular designers can end up being highly coveted.

5.) You can't tell how much a piece is worth without an appraisal.

Because of all the complexities of the jewelry trade, people often guess about the value of the pieces they own. Don't do that. You should always have your good jewelry appraised in case it is destroyed or stolen -- the sales receipt won't matter to your insurance company, precisely because of all the things mentioned before. Appraisers can track down the history of a particular designer piece and calculate how the brand name, scarcity of the design, and current popularity of the designer all play into your jewelry's current value. 

The bottom line is this: designer jewelry tends to hold its value better simply because it is better jewelry, but if you pay too much for it at the outset it will take you a long time to recoup your initial costs. It's an investment prone to sudden peaks in value based on its allure as a status symbol and equally sudden losses due to the fickle tastes of consumers. If you need your jewelry repaired or appraised, visit The Gold Miner.