Marcus & Co. Tiara Ring, ca. 1890
My fiancée at the time and I went to a little auction out in McGill, Nevada. It was in somebody's home. And somebody told me it came from a man that had come out and made it rich in the mining company and gave it to his wife, and it was dated 1846, but...
I see you've got your receipt, which you paid $1,250 for it. That's not bad for an auction sale. It's made by a company called Marcus & Company in New York. They're a late 19th-century, early 20th-century firm. This is an unusual piece for several reasons. One, it's in 18-karat gold. It's got green enamel around it. It's called a tiara ring. And it's got quite a few karats of diamonds in it as well. It's really quite a beautiful thing. And it was in the pre-Art Nouveau style. And in today's market, you're talking about in the neighborhood of $6,000.
Well, good. Not bad for what I paid for it.
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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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Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
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