jewelry boxThe following is a collection of random questions that have been posed by readers of this column during the past year.

Q: I want to sell a few items that I never wear anymore, but the price of gold has dropped in recent months. Should I wait until gold goes up again?

A: It is entirely possible that gold will go up soon. On the other hand, it’s also possible that for the foreseeable future, the price of gold will only continue to drop incrementally. If I had a crystal ball, I would be very wealthy. If you do not want to repurpose your items, and are determined to sell them, now would be as good a time as any to do so without gambling on the fickle gold market.   

Q: My grandmother (who is in ill health) has an amethyst ring that I’ve loved since I was a child. I don’t want to sound greedy, but is there anything I can do to be sure that she leaves it to me when she dies? We have a large family.

Joe Brandt

A: Yes and no. You can’t be sure of anything, but if you were to come right out and tell her (in private) that you’ve always loved that ring, it could increase the odds dramatically in favor of you being the recipient when the time comes.    

Q: I have a gold coin that I want to sell, but a jeweler told be that it was worth only its weight in gold. Aren’t gold coins worth more than just gold?

A: Some are, some are not. In order to find out, you may need the services of a reputable numismatist (coin dealer) to tell you whether the coin you have is rare enough to warrant  paying a premium for it — and be sure that you get offers from several sources, not just one.

Q: My boyfriend and I have been looking at engagement rings, but the prices seem awfully high. Would we be better off going down to 47th Street in New York City?

A: Not unless you’ve done quite a bit of homework first. (I will assume that you’re talking about a diamond engagement ring.) The value of most engagement rings today is in the center diamond, so if you do not have a good understanding of how the quality of the diamond (not just the size) effects price, don’t bother. You can often get just as good of a deal locally as you can on 47th Street, and a local jeweler will be far more likely to take the time to explain the pricing difference that quality makes. It’s all very nuanced, and minute variations in the color, clarity, or cut (never mind diamond weight) can make a huge difference in the price. Also (all other factors being equal), establishing yourself as a valued customer with a local jeweler can have benefits that will last for many, many years.

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Joe Brandt is a local resident, and president of J.L. Brandt Company, offering speaking engagements and diversified fine jewelry advisory services to the general public since 1928.