When you have jewelry you’re not wearing anymore and decide to sell it, you might be surprised at how much you can get for some of it. Whether it’s an heirloom piece that just isn’t your style, or something more modern that’s been sitting in a drawer gathering dust, selling your old jewelry can be liberating and lucrative. Here’s how to make sure that when you decide to sell, you do it wisely, safely, and with the best possible return.

1. Know what you’ve got

Before you rush to sell your jewelry, take a moment and make sure you know what you’ve got. Understanding the value of each piece is critical to getting a fair value. Start by checking for any hallmarks or stamps on the jewelry, which can tell you about the metal content (like ‘14k’ for 14 karat gold or ‘925’ for sterling silver) and sometimes also the jeweler who made it. If it’s a diamond piece, look for any certificates that came with it; those can enhance its market value quite a bit.

If you’re not sure about value, you might want to get an appraisal. A professional appraisal can give you a detailed description of your item’s material, quality, and estimated value. There’s usually a fee for this service, but it could significantly increase your confidence in knowing what price range you should accept.

2. Clean it up

Presentation is everything. Cleaning your jewelry before you show it to potential buyers can make a big difference in how it’s perceived—and how much they’ll be willing to pay. Use appropriate cleaning methods for different types of jewelry; for instance, mild soap and water with a soft brush can work wonders on diamond pieces, while silver polish can revitalize tarnished silver jewelry and make it look new. Many jewelers will clean it for a small fee—if you have a few pieces, this might be a great option to get that extra shine. Remember, the shinier it is, the more likely you are to get the best price.

3. Decide how you want to sell

There are several options you can consider when you’re selling jewelry:

– Jewelry stores or pawn shops: Lots of local jewelry stores buy used jewelry, and while pawn shops generally offer the quickest cash, they usually pay less. If you decide to sell to a jeweler or pawn shop, you should definitely visit and get offers from several stores before you make any final decisions.

– Online marketplaces: Websites like eBay, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace can be excellent sites to help you reach a wider audience. They give you the freedom to set your own prices but require good marketing skills—clear, attractive photos and detailed descriptions are a must.

– Specialized online buyers: There are reputable websites that buy specific types of jewelry. For example, Worthy.com or TheRealReal.com often provide a streamlined process for selling high-end jewelry, offering appraisal services and auctions or direct sales.

– Consignment shops: Selling your jewelry on consignment means it’s displayed in a shop (while you still own it) and then you get paid once it sells. This way of selling may get you a better price, but it can take longer, and the shop will probably take a hefty percentage of the sale price.

4. Set a fair price

Setting the right price is key to selling your old jewelry. Use the appraisal value as a guideline and check what similar items are selling for to gauge the market. Be realistic about the condition and age of your pieces when you’re setting your prices. It’s usually best to start a little higher because you can always lower the price (or accept a lower offer) if necessary.

5. Be prepared for negotiations

Be ready to negotiate with potential buyers, especially if you’re selling directly through a marketplace or in person. Decide in advance the lowest price you’re willing to accept, and try to stick to it. Negotiation is a part of the selling process, so be polite but firm to get the best possible deal.

6. Be safe

When you’re selling jewelry—especially valuable pieces—be sure to prioritize your safety. If you’re meeting a buyer in person, choose a busy public location. For higher-value items, some police stations offer safe zones where you can meet and conduct your transactions. You can also arrange to meet a buyer inside your bank. That way, you can safely deposit the money before you leave (and you and the buyer will both be captured on security cameras. If you’re selling online, use a platform that offers protections for sellers. Always be very careful about giving out your personal information.