Marsh Steel & Jade Ring, ca. 1950

Value (2008) | $7,500 Retail

GUEST:
I inherited it from my mother-in-law, who inherited it from her aunt, and her aunt lived in Chicago. And it was purchased there-- I'd assume around the 1920s, but I don't know. My mother-in-law gave it to me before she passed away. I-I just absolutely love it. It's one of my favorite things. And I think that it's... I assume it's jade. And the thing I like best about it is the iron part of it.

APPRAISER:
Well, this is jewelry that is quite unusual and rare. It is called Marsh-- M-A-R-S-H. Sometimes called Marshes, because that was the name of the store it was sold from. George Turner Marsh founded the Marsh Store in 1876 in the San Francisco area.

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
And it closed all the way in 2001. It was the oldest and longest established business in the United States selling Asian art.

GUEST:
Oh, really.

APPRAISER:
What's interesting is that somewhere around the '40s, '50s and '60s, they branched out into jewelry. Then this is prime-time Marsh, and I would say it's probably late 1940s, early '50s. It is steel. It is oxidized steel.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
One way we can test for steel-- because now it's popular to have oxidized gold and black gold—

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
It's a magnet.

GUEST:
just take a magnet... And it grabs it, doesn't it?

APPRAISER:
Gold isn't gonna do that, and this is oxidized steel. And Marsh was also known for adding the element of diamonds to the sides of the ring. And there were only three other elements that Marsh would have used. The most common was pearl; after that, he did use coral; and after that, jade.

GUEST:
Jade.

APPRAISER:
And yours is one of the rarest. We really seldom see Marsh jewelry at all. It's not signed. We know it by its form and its design. The value has escalated drastically. You had this ring looked at by a couple of jewelers over the time you've owned it.

GUEST:
One recommended that I have it appraised in another city, and I haven't had the opportunity to do it, and one said it's worth around $350, and I didn't think that was probably the case. But I'd still love it if it were.

APPRAISER:
I don't think you could buy the jade for $350 or have the diamond set in this market. No, Marsh jewelry has now been recognized, not just nationally but internationally, and the collectors are vying for it in the international market.

GUEST:
This is sounding better and better.

APPRAISER:
On the retail level, this ring-- with jade being rare, as it is-- would sell in today's market for about $7,500.

GUEST:
Well, I have worn it and enjoyed it, and I will continue to do that. Thank you.

APPRAISER:
That's a far cry from $350.

GUEST:
Yes, it is. (laughs) A little off.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Edith Weber Antique Jewelry
New York, New York
Appraised value (2008)
$7,500 Retail
Event
Wichita, KS (July 12, 2008)
Period
20th Century
Form
Ring
Material
Diamonds, Jade, Steel

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Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

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