We have helped over 3200 people with the downsizing process and we have seen lots of jewelry…in fact drawers full of it. Some is neatly organized and others simply “dumped” into a box or two. Some is valuable, some makes a wonderful donation, and some we just a discard because of the lead content.
We have actually seen young children restring jewelry to make their own creations with some of the costume jewelry we had to donate. “Seniors’ ” shops in some of the retirement communities sell it to make a little money.
The questions are “Do we bring our parents’ jewelry to a retirement residence or a long term care facility? Do we move it if mom has dementia and could give it away or even throw it out? Could it be stolen and if so would it be a financial or emotional loss? If it is expensive jewelry would it be insurable in the new environment?”
We have brought locked glass display cabinets so ladies can see their jewelry and the children actually unlock the cases and watch mom enjoy her jewelry while they are visiting. Daughters or sons have also taken pieces out for mom to wear to on a special occasion then made a ritual of “putting” it away safely when they returned to their suite.
The first thing you need to do is ask mom if she wants some or all of it to move with her. She can usually give you information about most of the pieces and usually she knows what is of value and what was bought reasonably on a holiday.
Take the time to look at some of it carefully. Discreetly use a bright light and a magnifying glass to check the interesting pieces. Are there some antique pieces that are valuable? Is there gold, sterling silver or precious stones? The gold is usually marked 10k, 14k or higher. Sterling is usually stamped sterling. Is any of the jewelry signed? Are there any appraisal certificates that show the value of some of the pieces? Are there any old receipts that show the purchase price?
You can also Google somethings to try and get the information you want. If you have items that you feel are valuable then you can actually pay a reputable person for a written or verbal appraisal. You can ask for the replacement value for insurance purposes or the price an item would sell for within 30 Days.
If it is to be bequeathed to someone is it wise to give it to that person at this time? I would say “Mom, your grand daughter would be so happy to have that bracelet. She is old enough to appreciate it and look after it. Why don’t you give it to her now so you can enjoy seeing her wear it?”
Women sometimes hide their jewelry. We have seen jewelry pinned to the inside of a piece of clothing, in pockets, in non-descript envelopes in a drawer, in a sock and even in a sugar bowl. One senior hid his wife’s jewelry in a cardboard box in the attic of his home.
If the jewelry is not wanted it might be salable.
For fun, you could take pictures of several pieces of the jewelry, put them in an album and write something about each piece: where it was purchased, why it was purchased i.e. to wear to a daughter’s wedding, a grandson’s birthday, as a gift for a 50th birthday….