Over the span of your life, you will likely collect quite a bit of fine jewelry. Although hard times may force you to sell some of it, you will almost certainly keep treasured pieces to pass down to children and their spouses one day. Whether it is your grandmother’s engagement ring, your mother’s pearl necklace, or your own wedding set, the value of these items cannot be measured solely by the dollar amount they might fetch on the market. So before you think about selling anything, consider what a hand-me-down of this nature is worth.
From time immemorial, it has been the practice to pass on treasured possessions to family members as way to keep wealth in the family. Hundreds of years ago, valuables like jewelry were often hard to come by and may have been the only item of quantifiable worth a family possessed (although an item like a lace wedding dress might have been just about as valuable). Today, most societies operate on a currency-based system, making marked paper the most sought-after possession. And yet, jewelry is still considered to have an extremely high value, especially when it contains large or rare stones and precious metals. While living members of your family will have to pay taxes on any money you bequeath to them (aside from certain non-taxable gifts), you can turn over your jewelry before you die as a way to give them something that possesses monetary value without forcing them to pay for it.
But even beyond giving your heirs something that they could trade for cash, you must consider the sentimental value that many jewelry items hold. Likely your children and grandchildren will want to choose certain pieces from your collection that are dear to their heart. Often the first child to wed will receive an engagement ring that formerly belonged to an older family member, while your own ring may go to your grandchild or great-grandchild. In this way, special items are kept in the family along with a sense of history and belonging to something greater than oneself. It’s sort of neat to think the ring your grandmother wore, the one that now rests on your finger, will one day be worn by your grand-daughter, thus making the item worth far more than its intrinsic value. When viewed in this light, it becomes clear that the passing of jewelry is more than just a way to keep wealth in the family. It is a method to preserve the memory of those who have gone ahead.