FAQ: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions | Sarasota Antique Buyers | Florida's #1 Antique Buyers

Silver FAQs

What is sterling silver?

Sterling silver is a silver alloy that consists of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of other metals – usually copper. The numbers “925” or “.925” marked on silver jewelry is an indication that the piece is made of sterling silver. Pure silver is too soft to be shaped into everyday items, so the sterling silver alloy was developed to create silver items that are able to retain their shape.

Is my silver piece sterling or silver plate?

Historically, silver plating was used as an affordable alternative for people that could not afford sterling silver pieces. In many cases, these pieces are hard to differentiate from sterling silver, but one of the easiest ways to tell the difference is the presence of a hallmark. Sterling silver pieces will be adorned with a numeric hallmark (925 or .925), the actual words “Sterling Silver”, or a lion hallmark.

Without a stamp, there are other ways to tell if your item is sterling or simply silver plated. A strong magnet can be a great tool, as silver has weak magnetic effects. If a magnet sticks to your item strongly, you should feel confident that it is only silver plated and contains more of another metal.

What is the difference between sterling silver and pure silver?

As previously noted, sterling silver is an alloy consisting of 92.5% silver, while the remaining 7.5% of its composition is made of copper and other metals. On the other hand, pure silver has an actual silver content of 99.9%. Due to this high purity, fine silver is usually too soft for use in making jewelry and other antiques, which is why it is mixed with other metals.

If you think you may have a pure – or fine – silver antique, you can look for its distinctive markings. Fine silver is usually stamped with marks like “.999,” “999,” or “99.9.”

Do silver plated items have any value?

Silver plated antiques are certainly not worth as much as sterling or other alloys with high silver content. However, your silver plated items may still hold value and could be worth some money. The value of silver plated flatware, for example, has a lot to do with what base metal is found underneath the silver. If copper is the underlying metal, the value of the flatware could be worth the price of copper scrap.

Silver plated Holloware may have more value, as it is often considered in a class of its own. Holloware includes plates, serving dishes, bowls, trays, teapots, and other non-cutlery pieces. Silver plated Holloware often has value because it isn’t as common as flatware, and historically, it had a higher price tag. Silver plated tea sets can have a price tag of well over $100 due to their rarity and age.

How can I minimize tarnish on my sterling silver?

Over time, sterling silver jewelry or antiques that are exposed to air will begin to tarnish. That’s because the other metals used to create a silver alloy, particularly copper, react to sulfur and moisture in the air, causing the metal to tarnish. Areas of high air pollution and humidity will lead to faster tarnishing, and certain chemicals can speed up the process.

If you want to prevent your silver from tarnishing, follow a few simple steps:

  • Store your clean, dry sterling silver in airtight containers, such as Tupperware or a Ziploc bag, depending on the size.
  • Anti-tarnish strips within the airtight bag or container can help to absorb elements that cause tarnish.
  • Never leave sterling silver antiques or jewelry in high-moisture areas unprotected. This includes leaving sterling silver jewelry in the bathroom or wearing it in the swimming pool or shower.
  • Minimize sterling silver’s contact to chemicals found in body lotion, perfume, hairspray, and makeup.
  • Clean your sterling silver regularly with a soft, dry polishing cloth, especially before you store it.

An antique dealer or jeweler can help you to clean your silver pieces if they have already started to tarnish.

How should I care for my silver antiques?

Taking proper care of your silver antiques can prevent tarnish, which could affect the overall value of your pieces. Fortunately, to keep silver candlesticks, trays, bowls, and other pieces gleaming, you really only need to give them a brief buffing about once a week. You can do this with a polish cloth or special silver mitts along with a little silver cleaner.

To polish your silver, use a well-known and safe silver polish like Twinkle Silver Polish, Wright’s Silver Polish, or Goddard’s Long Shine Silver Polish. These products are proven to be gentle, while other options might be abrasive and can scratch your pieces. Be sure to wash your silver before applying it, and then follow the directions as stated on the polish container. Ensure that your pieces are dried thoroughly before storage to prevent tarnish.

What does the hallmark on my silver antique tell me?

In most countries, silver objects are stamped with at least one silver hallmark, which can tell you a lot about your piece. A silver hallmark may indicate:

  • Purity of the silver
  • Date of manufacture
  • Who manufactured the piece
  • Information about the price

Hallmarks are typically applied using a hammer and a punch, and in some countries, marking is controlled by a national office.

What is English sterling?

English sterling silver is one of the few antique items that come with virtually a guarantee of its age and manufacturer due to hallmarking requirements. Dating back to 1478, London silversmiths have been required to date mark any of their pieces.

English sterling silver has its own unique hallmarking system, and to novices, they may seem like a random collection of figures and letters in impressed boxes known as cartouches. Every English sterling item will be hallmarked with a lion (standing on three legs with its front, right paw raised), a city mark, a date mark, and a maker’s mark. Some pieces also include a duty mark, such as Queen Victoria’s or King George’s head, according to the year that the piece was manufactured.

Bronze FAQs

What is bronze?

Bronze is a metal alloy that consists mainly of copper. Other ingredients may also be added, including tin, phosphorous, manganese, aluminum, and even silicon. Different ingredients will produce materials with different properties, and combined, they make an alloy that is harder than copper on its own.

Bronze is typically characterized by its distinct dull-gold color. It is used to make medals, musical instruments, and sculptures, and its resistance to corrosion makes it a great material for nautical applications.

What is “bonded” or “cold-cast” bronze?

Bonded bronze, which is also known as cold-cast bronze, is a mixture of bronze powder with resin. When a sculpture is created out of bonded bronze, it is made by pouring the bronze/resin mixture directly into a mold. This bypasses the lost wax casting process and is an affordable alternative to typical hot-cast bronze. However, cold-cast bronze sculptures likely won’t have the longevity and strength of hot-cast bronze.

How do I know if my sculpture is bronze?

If you’re not sure what metal your sculpture is made out of, there are several techniques that can tell you if it is bronze. You can lightly tap on a hollow part of a sculpture with a wooden pencil – if the sculpture is made out of cold-cast bronze, it should produce a dull thud. An antique dealer can also be a good resource to tell you what your sculpture is made from.

Why do bronze pieces tarnish?

Bronze doesn’t rust, but it can certainly tarnish if not cared for properly. The tarnish – sometimes called patina – results from a chemical reaction between the metals in the alloy and acids. Acids from the air, pollution, or even in the skin can cause the metal to tarnish, leaving behind an unattractive patina. Chlorine exposure also causes damaging corrosive tarnish known as bronze disease that will eventually pit and destroy the metal.

Why has my bronze sculpture changed color?

Any metal sculpture – including bronze – will change color with time. There are several factors that may affect the appearance of your sculpture with time:

  • Maintenance. It is important to maintain your bronze sculpture over time in order to help it retain its original color. Failure to take care of your sculpture could lead to a collection of dirt, dust, chemicals, and mineral build up that could lead to corrosion.
  • Environment. Humidity, salt air exposure, sunlight, and water can all alter the color of your sculpture.
  • Patina and finish. Some chemicals used when your sculpture was originally created will hold up better with time than others. For example, red patina will usually fade or darken with time, while white patina isn’t usually strong enough to hold up well outdoors.

While some people want their sculptures to retain their original appearance, others like to watch the color evolve with time.

Is there a way to turn my bronze piece verdigris naturally?

Some people enjoy the green patina that occurs on outdoor bronze sculptures. Known as verdigris, there are ways to let your bronze turn green naturally. Simply placing the statue outdoors will lead to verdigris eventually.
The verdigris appearance is so popular that many foundries are known acid-etching the metal, giving it the antique verdigris effect without waiting for time and nature to take its course.

How should I clean and care for my bronze antiques?

At the very minimum, it is important to keep bronze antiques clean and dust-free by wiping them down with a feather duster or soft cloth. You should never use metal polish or a chemical cleaner on a bronze sculpture or antique, as this can severely damage the finish. If a gentle rub down doesn’t do the trick, you can use a tiny amount of soapy water to clean more stubborn areas.
Tre-wax should also be used periodically to keep your bronze antiques clean. For indoor sculptures, you’ll want to apply the wax every 6-12 months, and allow it to dry in the sun. Outdoor sculptures should have the same treatment applied every 4-6 months for best results. Always use a soft, clean cloth to apply the wax.

Should I repair or restore my bronze sculpture?

Repairing a bronze sculpture may actually hinder the value of the piece. Before you perform any repairs, consider a few important factors:

  • The extent of the damage. Minor damage might not be the worth repair. If possible, simply position the sculpture in a way that the damage cannot be seen.
  • The effect of changing the finish. It is possible that changing the finish on an antique could impact both the monetary and sentimental value. For example, if new patina won’t match the original patina, you could be hindering the overall value of the piece. On the other hand, significant damage could also impact the value of the sculpture, so you will need to weigh the pros and cons.
  • Personal preferences. If your bronze sculpture is damaged to the point where you no longer enjoy having it displayed, then restoration is likely well worth the cost.

Consult with a professional for assistance and the best possible outcome if you do decide to restore your bronze sculpture.

  • Can bronze cause an allergic reaction? It depends on the bronze, as the alloy will contain several different metals. A lot of “bronze” jewelry contains zinc and nickel, so if you have an allergy to either of those metals, you should stay away from wearing bronze pieces.
  • How can I determine the value of my bronze sculpture? There are several factors that can help determine just how much your bronze sculpture is worth:
    • Artist. If you aren’t sure who the artist of your sculpture is, take a look for a mark or signature. Signed works can be worth more if the artist is someone well-known. If the artist isn’t someone that you know much about, do some research online or with an art dealer to find out more about him/her and what other pieces have sold for.
    • Originality. Original artwork and bronze sculptures can hold considerable value across time, especially if the artist has gained popularity for his/her work. Original pieces are often marked, and some may come with a certificate of authenticity. An original piece is often worth thousands of dollars more than a simple reproduction.
    • Condition. The better shape that your sculpture is in, the more it will likely be worth. Look for signs of damage and areas where a repair may have been completed in the past. In some cases, repairs are considered modifications and could actually detract from a sculpture’s value.

An antique or art dealer may be able to help you better understand what type of bronze sculpture you have and what it might be worth. At Sarasota Antique Buyers, we are here to help.

Painting FAQs

How can I identify the artist of my painting?

If you have a painting and aren’t sure of who the artist might be, you might need to do a little detective work. Online databases and websites can help, especially if you have information about the style of painting or medium. In other cases, the signature will hold a lot of information about who painted your piece of art.

How can I decipher the signature on my painting?

While signatures are an important tool to determine who created a painting, they aren’t always legible. Fortunately, the Internet can help you to decipher the scrawl and to learn more about the artist and his/her other works. If you can’t make out what the signature says, there are websites that can help you identify the artist based off of the appearance of the signatures or monograms. You can even compare signatures to see if yours matches.

Is my piece valuable if I cannot find a signature on it?

Not all paintings and other works of art will be signed. They may have been kept in an artist’s private collection or simply weren’t for sale during his/her lifetime. It isn’t uncommon for paintings to be left unsigned, especially with Impressionist artists. Even Rosa Bonheur, a well-known French realist who was popular for her animal paintings, had many unsigned works at the time of her death, and a highly-publicized studio sale was conducted to sell them.
If your painting is unsigned, it may still be valuable. There may be an estate stamp or some other clue to indicate where the painting came from and when it was produced. A trained art or antique dealer can help you determine the value.

How do I tell if my painting has more than sentimental value?

An antique painting that has been in your family for decades might be extremely valuable to you. However, sentimental value doesn’t necessarily translate to a high price tag if you want to sell your piece.
It is important to separate sentimental from retail value to price your piece correctly if you want to make a sale. You can do some research online to find out more about a piece, or you can speak with an art valuer. This trained professional will determine the rarity, history, and condition of your painting. He/she will also analyze the art quality within the artist’s style.
After the piece is thoroughly evaluated, an can provide you with the monetary value. This way, you’ll know whether or not it’s worth selling.

How are painting prices decided?

There are several factors that will be used to determine the price of a painting. While some works of art are extremely expensive, other pieces can be found at a relatively low price for exceptional quality.
The first thing to look at when determining the price of a painting is whether a piece is the original or a reproduction. Then, factors like the artist’s reputation, innovation, and physical characteristics will be used. A trained art evaluator can also examine how the piece measures up against other works of the same artist.
Provenance is also important in determining the price of a painting. Provenance is defined as the financial history of a piece of art. This will include documentation of who bought the painting over the years, who sold it, and exactly where it has been the displayed. This information helps to track a painting, and it also determines desirability, collectability, and market value.

How do I tell what medium of painting I have?

In the art world, a medium is the material used to create the piece. Whatever your painting is made out of will be the medium. The most common medium for a painting is canvas, but tempera paintings are often completed on wood.

Is my painting an original, or do I have a reproduction?

It isn’t always easy to tell if you have an original painting or a reproduction, but there are several steps that can help:

  • Original paintings are more likely executed on canvas, paper, or paneling, while reproductions are usually done on cardboard or stock paper.
  • With original paintings, you can usually feel the texture of the paint, especially with oil paintings. Even watercolor paintings will have brush impressions that can show up when examined with a magnifying glass. Reproductions of original artwork tend to be smooth and flat.
  • Original artwork often has a label on the back of the painting from show or galleries. They are typically left in place to help explain the history of the piece.

If you aren’t sure if you have an original piece or a reproduction, an art dealer or antique buyer may be able to help.

What is a print?

A print is defined as a work of graphic art that has been conceived by an artist to be realized as an original rather than a copy. Prints are produced by carving or drawing an image onto a hard surface like a stone, metal plate, or wooden block. The surface is then inked before the image is transferred to paper by a pressure application. This creates an impression, or print. The printed image will be an exact reverse of the image on the plate.
Prints usually exist with multiple impressions that have been created from an inked plate. The total number of impressions created is called an edition. Around the early 1900s, artists began to sign and number each one of their impressions to ensure that only the number of editions intended would be produced.

What makes a painting valuable?

There are several factors that can help determine if a painting is valuable:

  • Authenticity
  • Popularity
  • Historical importance
  • Era
  • Rarity
  • Subject matter
  • Condition and appearance
  • Provenance

An experienced art dealer or antique buyer can help you to better understand the value of your painting, and if you are ready to sell, they may place a bid on your piece.

Asian Furniture

What is Asian furniture?

Asian furniture refers to the style of furniture that originated in Asia. Once popular on just that continent, Europeans began to collect and receive pieces in the 18th century. While Chinese furniture pieces were some of the first to gain notoriety, furniture from Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, is now gaining in popularity around the world.

What are some distinguishing characteristics of Chinese furniture?

Chinese furniture dates back to 1000BC, and throughout history it has evolved independently of furniture in the West. Some of the styles that are now most commonly regarded as Chinese appeared during the Tang Dynasty, including two major developments – waisted tables and recessed legs. Most furniture pieces used a thick lacquer finish and included detailed paintings and engravings. Pragmatic design elements also flourished, and all pieces were entirely handmade.

What are Asian room dividers?

Room dividers are an Asian furniture staple with deep historical roots. Folding room dividers originated in China during the 4th century BC. Early dividers functioned as both decorations and furnishings, and they served as heavy and ornate works of art. Due to their weight and size, these early dividers weren’t easy to move and were intended to stay in the same place.
Later, room dividers were improved upon by the Japanese, the earliest of which was the “byobu” folding screen. Later, a hinged screen known as the “shoji” was created in order to make the dividers more portable, and they consisted of lightweight translucent paper. These screens were most commonly used during tea ceremonies, outdoor processions, religious events, and public performances.
Americans and Europeans began to adopt their own adaptation of the screens in the 15th – 17th centuries. However, they used different materials, including painted leather, wood, tapestry, and embroidery. Not only were they beautiful, but they also served as an inexpensive and efficient way to prevent drafts within a large room.

What type of wood is commonly used in Asian furniture?

The type of wood used to make an antique piece of furniture is a good indication as to when – and where – the piece was produced. Chinese furniture was usually made from dense, oily hardwoods like zitan and huanghuali, which were both resistant to insect damage and water. Other common wood used to create Chinese furniture have included:

  • Teak
  • Hei suanzhi
  • Xiangzhi
  • Tiaowen
  • Jichi

Most of the Asian furniture pieces today are made out of softwoods. If you need help determining the type of wood that was used to create your piece of furniture, talk to an antique dealer today.

How are antique Chinese furniture pieces constructed?

Antique Chinese furniture pieces were constructed completely by hand. These pieces used a complex system of joinery where different pieces were created to fit together like a puzzle. Joinery should be tightened, although some joints may have loosened with time. Many classic Chinese furniture pieces were also constructed so that they could easily be dismantled to pack up and move.
An experienced antique furniture dealer can help you determine if you have an authentic item or a reproduction. They may also take your furniture apart to ensure that none of the joints have been constructed from new or fresh wood. Older pieces might also contain a few Chinese characters that were placed for easy reassembly.

How should I care for my antique Asian furniture pieces?

In order to properly care for your Asian furniture, you’ll need to know what type of finish it has. You’ll be cleaning the finish, not the wood itself, and finishes can include oil, opaque, painted, and clear finishes like lacquer, varnish, or shellac, among others.
For all furniture finishes, you should be sure to dust your antique Asian furniture several times a week in order to protect the finish from buildup and to keep the surface clean. A clean, absorbent cloth is perfect for general dusting. Washing your furniture several times a year is also a good idea. Use a solution of water and mild soap, and rinse with a dampened cloth. You can also apply a protection polish after dried; just make sure you select a polish that will work with the finish on your unique piece.
Finally, ensure that your furniture is properly protected to best care for it. Exposure to sunlight can cause the wood to dry out and may bleach the color. Additionally, wood breathes, so don’t put your furniture anywhere that it will be exposed to extremely dry or moist air.

What should I consider when buying antique Asian furniture?

If you are in the market for antique Asian furniture, there are a few factors that you should consider before you make a purchase:

  • Age
  • Material
  • Rarity
  • Craftsmanship
  • Overall condition

One of the main things to verify when you are in the market for Asian furniture is the wood that it used. Any antique furniture item should be made out of aged wood – wood that is more than 80 years will have had the chance to dry properly. While separations between jointing are perfectly normal, if your wood has a crack in it, this is a good sign that new wood was used, and the piece is not antique.

How can I tell if my Asian furniture is a genuine piece or a reproduction?

Do you have a piece that you suspect is antique Asian furniture? There are a few ways you can tell if it is the real deal or a replication:

  • Examine how the furniture is constructed. If there is any indication that the piece was made with power tools or any modern methods, it likely isn’t antique. Most antique furniture made before 1910 was entirely handmade, so there should be variations in the joints. If all the cuts and joints appear consistent, it was likely machine-made.
  • Consider the wood. An antique Asian furniture piece won’t be made out of European or American woods. More likely, they’ll be made from camphor or elm. If the piece is painted you’ll need to look inside the drawers or under a painted surface.
  • Inspect paintings. An authentic Asian furniture piece will have hand-painted decorations rather than decals. You should also ask yourself if floral designs and other scenes appear more “Western” or “Asian.” For example, if your antique furniture has roses painted on it, you likely aren’t looking at an Asian piece.
  • Assess the finish. Asian antique furniture often features very thick finishes that were made out of animal hides and other types of organic products. You can even smell the finish for more information – modern materials will smell like petroleum-based products.

Jewelry FAQs

What is the difference between estate, antique, and vintage jewelry?

The terms estate, antique, and vintage jewelry usually reference to the time frame or period in which the jewelry was manufactured:

  • Antique jewelry. This jewelry typically includes pieces crafted at least 100 years ago. These pieces may have been created and worn in a certain historical time period, such as Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Nouveau.
  • Vintage jewelry. Vintage pieces are usually between 50 and 100 years old. Art Deco and Retro style jewelry is often considered vintage.
  • Estate jewelry. This type of jewelry refers to any piece that has been previously owned, and it can be from any era. Both vintage and antique jewelry can be classified as estate jewelry.

A jeweler or antique dealer can help you identify what type of jewelry you have in your collection.

How can I identify the age of my antique jewelry?

There are a few giveaways that can tell you just how old your piece of vintage or antique jewelry is:

  • Findings and fittings. Different earring findings were invented at different times. These findings included clasps, hinges, and pin stems. There are plenty of online resources that show the most common styles and when they were introduced to the jewelry market.
  • Materials. While metals like white gold, platinum, and other silver-hued materials are popular today, that wasn’t always the case. The type of metal used to make your jewelry can give a trained jeweler a good idea of when your piece was created.
  • Hallmarks. The hallmark on your antique jewelry is essentially the maker’s calling card. It can tell a trained eye who made the piece, when, and all about the metal composition.

Contact us today if you need assistance to identify the age of your antique jewelry.

What were the major jewelry periods?

Some of the most popular jewelry periods range from the mid-1800s to 1950:

  • Victorian (1836-1901). Pieces from this era incorporated birds, bows, hearts, and flowers, while serpent motifs also gained popularity. Gemstones were often used during the period, including seed pearls, coral, amethyst, and garnets, and opals were a favorite of Queen Victoria.
  • Art Nouveau (1890-1919). This period represented the coming of the modern age with the turn of the century. Jewelry incorporated pale colors, sinuous lines, and covers, and nature motifs remained strong. Some of the most popular gemstones were opals, amber, and citrines, while interesting materials like copper, horn, ivory, and carved glass also made an appearance.
  • Edwardian (1901-1920). During this period, jewelers used diamonds and platinum to create delicate and intricate filigree patterns that resembled lace. Airy and light designs were hallmarks of this jewelry period.
  • Art Deco (1920-1935). The emphasis of this jewelry period moved away from soft colors to the bright and bold. In the era of flappers and jazz, Art Deco jewelry used geometric cuts to create beautiful long earrings, diamond watches, and beaded pieces.
  • Retro (1935-1950). This period began in the years of the Great Depression, and jewelry was characterized by chunky styles that worked to showcase oversized, rectangular cuts of colorful gemstones. Sapphires, rubies, and aquamarines were all popular.

If you are unsure of what jewelry period birthed your prize antique or vintage jewelry, a jeweler or antique dealer can help.

How can I identify my antique jewelry by style?

Historically, there have been many different eras of jewelry style. While there are plenty of online resources that can show examples of major jewelry styles, your best bet is to meet with an experienced jeweler or antique dealer. This way, you’ll find out when your piece of jewelry was created, and you’ll also get an idea of its value in case you are interested in selling.

What are the most common antique and vintage jewelry metals?

Historically, a variety of different materials have been used in jewelry. They range from affordable to more expensive options, some of which include:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Aluminum
  • Palladium
  • Pewter
  • Platinum

If you have an antique or vintage jewelry piece, an experienced jeweler can help you determine the type of material used.

What does “gold-filled” mean?

Gold-filled is a U.S. layered gold product that is currently gaining in popularity. It is common for all types of jewelry and is easy to care for and maintain.
Gold-filled jewelry is constructed in 2-3 layers. The core metal is a jeweler’s brass, and a gold alloy is bonded to the surface of the brass core using pressure and heat. Unlike plated metals, gold-filled jewelry is legally required to contain 5% gold by weight, which is then described in karats.

What is filigree?

Filigree is a delicate type of jewelry metalwork, typically made out of silver or gold. It consists of twisted threads and tiny beads that are soldered together or arranged on the surface of the same metal. It often looks like lace, and it is especially popular in metalworking of India and other Asian countries. It was also popular in French and Italian metalwork from 1660 to the late 1800s.
If you think that you may have a filigree piece, it is important that you don’t confuse filigree with ajoure jewelry. The ajoure technique often looks similar, but involves drilling holes into objects that are made out of sheet metal.

Do antique and vintage jewelry pieces contain hallmarks?

Many antique and vintage jewelry pieces do contain hallmarks, which can help to tell the story of the piece. Hallmarks can help you – or a jeweler or antique dealer – to accurately date your jewelry and to determine who made it.
The “purity” mark is the most common jewelry hallmark, and it indicates the total amount of silver or gold used to manufacture a piece. Other hallmarks include:

  • Date letters
  • Town marks
  • Maker’s marks

A trained professional should be able to put your piece of jewelry in its proper time frame with or without the presence of these hallmarks.

How do I care for my antique jewelry?

No matter how well you store your antique jewelry, dust will eventually accumulate in the storage area. This makes it important that you clean your pieces regularly, and you can follow a few tips to do so safely:

  • Choose the right cleaner. You should never use jewelry cleaner that contains ammonia, acids, or alcohol.
  • Inspect for problems before you clean. Before you start to clean your antique jewelry, make sure you inspect the piece for dust, grit, and damages. A loupe or magnifying glass can help. You may want to have any loose settings or stones repaired before you clean the piece to prevent additional damages.
  • Lightly dust and polish. Once your jewelry has been dusted lightly, spray a little jewelry cleaner onto a soft cloth. It shouldn’t be too wet, but should be damp enough to do the job. A Q-tip can help to get into small places.
  • Dry thoroughly. Make sure that your jewelry is completely dry before you put it away. Moisture is the biggest enemy of your jewelry and can cause the metal to rust or tarnish.

If you need advice on how to clean a specific piece of antique jewelry, contact a jeweler or antique dealer for guidance.

How can I sell my antique jewelry collection?

There are a variety of places and buyers that might be interested in your antique jewelry collection:

  • Jewelers and jewelry stores. Almost any jewelry shop will be willing to purchase antique jewelry that is in good condition. A jeweler will likely pay you a percentage of the current scrap price for the metal, and if the piece is signed by a maker like Tiffany’s or another well-known designer, they may pay you more for the piece itself.
  • Online sales. Online auction sites like eBay, online classified ads, and other websites that specialize in the sale of antique or vintage goods may be a useful place to sell your jewelry.
  • Antique dealer. An antique dealer, especially one that specializes in vintage and antique pieces, can help you to value your items and may place a bid on them.

Contact us today at Sarasota Antique Buyers if you need help selling your antique or vintage jewelry.


What are the 4 Cs of diamond quality?

When evaluating the quality of a diamond, the 4 Cs are often used. They include:

  • Cut. The way that the diamond is cut often has the greatest effect on the beauty of the stone. To determine the cut quality, the diamond grader will evaluate the cutter’s skill in fashioning the diamond. More precise cuts will lead to more captivating diamonds.
  • Clarity. Diamonds may have internal characteristics called inclusions or external blemishes. Diamonds without these issues are rare, and those that are present will affect the value of the stone.
  • Color. Colorless diamonds are the rarest, and they can range all the way to light yellow or brown. Other natural colors are known as “fancy” diamonds, and the color grading will be different than that of a white, colorless diamond.
  • Carat. The carat is the physical weight of the diamond as measured in metric carats. One carat will equal 1/5 gram. It is divided into 100 points, and the carat weight will serve as the most objective measure of diamond quality.

Contact us today at Sarasota Antique Buyers if you need help selling your antique or vintage jewelry.

How can I determine the size of my diamond?

Antique jewelry pieces are usually sold “as-is,” meaning that the stone isn’t removed from the original setting. This can make it difficult to determine the exact weight of the carat. When a diamond is already set, an antique jeweler can do a millimeter to weight conversion to help determine the size.

How can I determine the gemstone in my antique jewelry?

While an experienced jeweler or antique dealer is your best source to identify gemstones. However, simply examining the stone and its color can give you a better idea of what type of stone you might have, although there are several things you need to examine when you try and decide what color your gemstone is:

  • Hue. This is the overall body color of your stone. Is it blue, or is it more of a greenish blue? There are 31 different hues in the GIA’s color wheel, so be as specific as possible.
  • Tone. Is your gem’s tone dark, light, or somewhere in between? The GIA uses 7 different tone levels in order to describe colored stones.
  • Saturation. The GIA evaluates the intensity or strength of the color – or saturation – in one of six grades that range from dull to strung and vivid.
  • Transparency. Examine if your stone is opaque, translucent, or transparent.

The GIA’s online resources can help you to determine the type of stone you have, and a jeweler can confirm your theory.

Which gems were most popular in antique jewelry?

Gemstone popularity varied with the different antique jewelry periods:

  • Victorian (1836-1901). Coral, amethyst, garnets, and opals were all favorites of Queen Victoria.
  • Art Nouveau (1890-1919). Popular gemstones of this period included citrines, amber, and opals.
  • Edwardian (1901-1920). Diamonds were most popular, as they were used to create delicate filigree patterns.
  • Art Deco (1920-1935). Bold-colored gems like sapphires, rubies, and emeralds were most popular during this time period.
  • Retro (1935-1950). Sapphires, rubies, and aquamarines were all popular throughout this jewelry era.

Can diamonds be colored?

A yellow tint to the clarity of a pure, white diamond is an imperfection that can affect the overall value. However, it is also possible for a diamond to be colored. Diamonds can come in yellow, blue, red, green, purple, pink, and a host of other colors, which result from structural defects or interstitial impurities.

What are the common cuts of antique diamonds?

Antique diamond cut trends have evolved throughout history. However, there are some cuts that have been historically more popular than others:

  • Point. Originating in the Middle Ages, the point cut is recognized as the first diamond cut. However, they weren’t actually cut at all, and instead, they were polished into a point.
  • Single. Sometimes called an eight cut, a single cut diamond has eight pavilion facets and eight crown facets. They are known for being shaped like an octagon and can be traced back to the 1300s.
  • Rose. This cut originated in the mid-1500s, and they resembled a blooming rosebud. They have triangular facets, but are usually circular in shape.
  • Old Mine. These cuts were popular in the early 1700s and are sometimes confused with the modern cushion cut.
  • French. These square cuts were used in both sapphire and diamond jewelry in the early 18th century. They later came back into style in the Art Deco period.
  • Old European. These cuts are the predecessor of today’s round brilliant. Circular in shape, these cuts are similar to the faceting of the old mine cut. This shape is often described as the most “advanced” of the vintage diamond cuts.

What is the difference between synthetic and simulated gemstones?

The terms “synthetic” and “simulated” are often used interchangeably when discussing gemstones. The truth is, these two types of gems are different:

  • Synthetic gemstones. Also known as artificial, man-made, lab-made, and lab-grown stones, synthetic gems are stones that were created in laboratories rather than nature. There are many processes that can be used to synthesize gems, and while they range in price, all are conducted artificially within a lab.
  • Simulated gemstones. When gems are synthesized in a lab in order to imitate natural stones, they are called simulated gems. Not all simulated gems are synthetic. Glass pieces are often used to simulate natural gems, and one kind of natural gem could also be presented as another. For example, a natural garnet doublet could be cut in order to resemble a ruby.

What is the difference between an EGL certification and a GIA certification?

There are five laboratories that certify loose diamonds, inducing the two most popular – the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). These two laboratories have different grading techniques.

  • GIA certification. This is the world’s most popular certification, especially for diamonds under 1 carat. The mission of this nonprofit institute is to protect all gemstone buyers and sellers by maintaining standards to evaluate gemstone quality. This certification is considered the gold-standard for diamond evaluations.
  • EGL certification. This U.S. certification is popular among consumers, although standards tend to be “looser” than those of the GIA. The EGL is also a for-profit organization.

When it comes to buying antique jewelry with a gemstone or diamond, make sure to look for GIA certification.

Porcelain FAQs

What is porcelain?

Porcelain is a type of ceramic material that is created by heating up different materials. This usually includes kaolin, which is heated in a kiln to between 2,200 and 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit. After heating, manufacturers are left with a glassy material with low porosity. Porcelain is a popular material for pottery, tableware, and other antique collectibles. However, it is extremely fragile and is prone to chips and breaks if not handled carefully. Porcelain also comes in two main varieties – hard and soft paste – which vary in color and durability.

What is the origin of porcelain?

The origins of porcelain can be traced back to China, including the Shang, Eastern Han, and Tang Dynasties. Early porcelain pieces were highly prized, and eventually, the craft of creating it spread into other parts of East Asia. By the Ming Dynasty (from 1368 AD to 1644 AD), porcelain wares started to be exported to Europe, in particular, highly coveted blue-and-white wares. Japanese and European porcelain then followed.

What is the difference between porcelain and ceramic collectibles?

The terms porcelain and ceramics are sometimes used interchangeably. Actually, these two types of materials are quite different:

  • Density. Ceramic is quite dense and will block light from passing through, while porcelain is often translucent.
  • Color. Ceramic pieces can be found in a variety of colors, while porcelain is generally white, gray, or off-white.
  • Thickness. Ceramic is thick and sturdy, while porcelain is thinner and more delicate.
  • Watertight. Ceramics are usually too porous to be watertight unless they are glazed, while porcelain is watertight even without glaze.
  • Surface texture. When unglazed, the surface of the ceramic is usually grainy or chalky, while the surface of porcelain is quite smooth.
  • Detail. Ceramics tend to be less detailed compared to porcelain pieces, which offer fine, intricate details.

It is clear to see why porcelain is prized for its many fine qualities. At Sarasota Antique Buyers, we are happy to evaluate your porcelain antiques and collectibles.

What is the difference between porcelain and china?

Similar to the confusion between porcelain and ceramics, the terms porcelain and china also lead to some problems. Actually, the terms describe the same product. The word “porcelain” derives from the Latin term “porcella,” while the term “china” is derived from its country of origin. The term “china” tends to be favored in the U.S., while “porcelain” is preferred in European countries.

How can I identify my antique porcelain figurine?

If you aren’t familiar with porcelain collectibles and the origin of your piece, there are a few signs that can give you more information. The maker’s mark can tell you who produced the piece, and online databases can help you decipher them. There are also many websites with photographic examples of both marks and collectibles for you to compare your piece.
The style and subject matter of your porcelain figurine are also useful if you want to identify the origin. Porcelain figures of animals and humans started being produced in the early 1700s in Germany, and later English porcelain makers created pieces that emulated subjects from the British monarchy and rural life.

What will the porcelain hallmark tell me?

Porcelain hallmarks aren’t as common as those found on silver and antique jewelry. Those that do exist are often signatures or marks to indicate who made the piece, and possibly when. While there are many online databases that can help you to identify who produced the mark on your porcelain piece, if you are having a hard time deciphering the inscription, an antique dealer may be able to help.

How can I care for my porcelain antiques?

To keep your porcelain antiques in pristine condition, it is important to care for them properly. Regular dusting will help to keep them clean while preventing the accumulation of dust and build up. Mild soapy water can also be used for periodic cleaning, but make sure your work area is thoroughly padded before you start. If your porcelain piece has a stain, rub it gently with a cotton swab. Avoid silver or other chemical cleaners, as they could damage the surface of your piece. An antique dealer can also suggest the right cleaner to help clean your prized porcelain pieces.

Is there a safe way to handle my porcelain pieces?

Porcelain is extremely fragile, so it is important to handle your pieces carefully to prevent breaks and damage. Always avoid picking up an object by its rim or sprigged attachments, as this could cause hairline breaks or faults. Despite the presence of a handle, you should also avoid picking up a porcelain piece by it, especially with antique pieces. The best way to pick up and handle a porcelain piece is at the base. While you can use your other hand to support the piece at the neck or toward the top, don’t put any unnecessary pressure onto these delicate areas.

Estate Sale

How should I sell my antiques? Should I go to an antique buyer, estate sale company, or an antique auction house?

There are several ways that you can sell your antique items or estate. Each has pros and cons, and some options are better suited for valuable antiques than others.

Antique BuyerAn antique buyer is the best place to sell your most valuable antiques, from single prices to entire collections. Antique buyers will help to research your item and will have the knowledge and expertise to know exactly what they are worth.

Estate Sales CompaniesAn estate sale is a great way to sell your personal and household items, but it won’t be the best option for your silver, gold, and other high-priced valuables. An estate sale professional can help you to price your items appropriately.

Auction HousesAny type of item can be sold at an auction house, and these venues are good options for medium-range, high-end, and rare items. They tend to have a large buyer base and the sales are marketed well. You can also set a reserve price to ensure that your items are selling for what they are worth.

What questions should I ask an estate sale company before I hire them?

If you are ready to sell your estate – or the estate of a loved one – a professional estate sale company can help you to get the most for your belongings. Finding a genuine antique silver dealer near you in Orlando, Tampa, Braden-ton or anywhere in Florida can be tiring. There are many estate sale companies based in Florida, so it is important to do your homework before you sign with any of them. You can visit other estate sales they conduct for an idea about how the sale will be run and the type of crowd in attendance. You should also ask some important questions:

  • How do you determine the value of my items?
  • What are your fees? Do you charge a commission?
  • How will you advertise my sale? Am I charged for any marketing efforts?
  • Should I sell my antiques or just my household goods?
  • How is the sale staffed? Is there security, and if not, how will you ensure my property is safe?
  • What happens on the last day of the sale? Will you discount my items to help them sell, and if so, by how much?
  • Will you put reserves on my most valuable items?
  • What happens to my items that aren’t sold once the estate sale has finished?
  • Do you charge for item pick-up or drop-off?
  • How will you leave my property after the sale?

Remember that your most valuable items like gold and silver pieces are better suited for sale at an auction house or with an antique dealer. This way, you’ll be sure to get the best price for your most valuable items.

What questions should I ask an antique auction house before I sign them up?

Before you choose an auction house for the sale of your antiques, it is important to do your research. Go to some auctions in your area to see what type of turnout each house has and to see what types of antiques they specialize in. You should also ask some important questions to help you make your decision:

  • How should I get my items to your auction house? Do you offer pick-up services?
  • How are your auctions marketed and advertised?
  • What is your commission?
  • Do you charge a listing fee?
  • Do you put reserve prices on the items that you sell?
  • What is your sell-through rate?
  • What happens to my items if they don’t sell?
  • Are my items insured against theft or damage while at your auction house?
  • Are your auctions on-site or online?
  • How long will it take to get my money after a sale?

A good business should also give you an idea about how much your antiques will sell for during an auction.

When is the best time to sell my estate outright to an antique dealer or estate purchasing company?

Depending on how quickly you need to liquidate your estate, it may be in your best interest to sell your items outright. First, do your homework to make sure that you are getting a fair price. You can research your items online before taking them in to an antique dealer or estate purchasing company.
At Sarasota Antique Buyers, we will examine your collection to provide a value analysis – the amount your items are likely to sell for at an auction. If you are ready to sell, we will place a bid just under that valuation. You’ll be able to sell your items all around Florida for a fair price, we can coordinate a plan that works for you.

What do I do if I have specialized collections to sell (silver, bronzes, post-war paintings, jewelry, etc.)? Where is the best place to sell these items?

If you have specialized collections to sell, it is important to do your research about the pieces before you attempt to sell them. Use online resources and the help of an antique dealer to find out the history of your items and an estimate of what they might be worth. These specialty items should be sold at an auction house or outright to an antique dealer. An estate sale isn’t the best place for these items, as most customers aren’t searching for these high-valued items at these types of sales. Plus, if you haven’t properly researched your items, there is a chance they could be sold for much less than they are worth at an estate sale. Remember that collections are more valuable when they stay together. Don’t break them apart to sell individual pieces – at least not right away. Collectors and antique dealers are often extremely interested in purchasing entire collections.

Is Florida the best place to sell my antiques and collectibles?

While Florida is a great place to sell a lot of your antiques and collectibles, there are some items that might do better in other locations. For example, if you have a collection of Asian bronze sculptures or antiques, a New York auction venue that specializes in that type of item can get you more money than a Florida-based auction house. If you are unsure of where the best place to sell your antiques and collectibles might be, an antique dealer might be able to provide some helpful insight.

When is a good time to sell my estate?

The best time to conduct an estate sale is during the warmer seasons, as it will be easier for potential customers to travel to your sale. However, sales can be conducted year-round, so if you don’t have time to wait, don’t be put off by having a sale during the “off season”. Remember that your house doesn’t need to be sold before you hold an estate sale. Even if your home is on the market, you can hold a successful estate sale, especially with the assistance of a reputable and company.

What is the 80/20 rule when working with an antique estate or collection?

A general rule of thumb for valuing most antique collections is the 80/20 rule, which is pulled from the Pareto principle of business. This means that 80% of the value will be amassed in only 20% of your items. Not all items in your collection will carry significant value, so it is important to put the greatest amount of effort into this 20% of your collection. Make sure to do extensive research into these items, and talk to an antique dealer or buyer for assistance in determining their worth.

How do I research my antiques and collections?

When it comes to determining the value of your antiques and collections, research is your best friend. To start, take a look at some online resources. There are many free pages out there dedicated to antiques, and you can search for your particular collectibles, designer, or manufacturer. You can also do a photo search to try and find items that look similar to those in your collection.
Not all online resources are free. In some cases, you may have to sign up for a subscription-based site to get more accurate information about the value of your items. This is especially true if you are trying to sell paintings, silver pieces, jewelry, antique furniture, or bronze statues. In you are living in Lake-land, Orlando, or Tampa or anywhere in Florida- you will luckily find many antique buyers giving free verbal evaluation of your vintage items.
Experts can also help you to get information about the history – and value – of your collections. Talk to an antique dealer, another collector, or an auction house for more information about your pieces. It may take quite a bit of work to find out all you need to know about your items, but in the end when you make that final sale, it will all be worth it.

If I want to hold my own estate sale, where is the best place to advertise?

If you choose to hold an estate sale on your own – without the help of a professional estate sale company – it is important that you market your sale appropriately. While physical signs are important in order to direct customers to your home, you should also advertise your sale online well ahead of time. There are several great websites to use:

  • Estatesales.net
  • Estatesales.org
  • Craigslist

The local newspaper will attract potential customers who may not be computer savvy.

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