reSettling Life's Treasures- Jewelry Markings

Even if you aren’t a collector, there is a strong chance you own some jewelry. During our senior moves, we often come across pieces with marks on them. These markings can actually tell you quite a bit about the piece if you know how to decipher them.

Any type of mark on a piece of jewelry is called a “hallmark,” and they are generally found in the same place on similar pieces. Rings will be stamped on the inside of the band, marks on necklaces and bracelets are generally on the clasp, and pins, earrings and brooches will be marked on the back. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find any marks at all. While jewelers are required to disclose the type of metal used, it does not have to be marked on the jewelry itself. This information can be included on a receipt, appraisal or even the price tag, all of which easily become separated from the jewelry or lost.

The mark most commonly found on jewelry is the purity mark, which tells what type of metal is in it. Gold is often expressed in karats and other metals are measured in percentages. The purest gold is 24 karat gold. It is rarely used in jewelry because of its softness. Lesser karats mean the gold has been combined with other types of metals. For example, 22 karat gold is about 92% gold and 8% something else such as copper, silver or palladium. As the karats go down, so does the value of the gold. If you have a piece of gold jewelry stamped “carat,” that doesn’t mean it’s misprinted or counterfeit, the piece was made somewhere other than the U.S. or Canada.

Sterling silver (SS) is the name of the purest silver used in jewelry. To be sterling, a piece must be over 90% silver. Other designations used on silver pieces are “silver-plated” and “EPNS” (electro-plated nickel silver). Jewelry designated as “nickel silver” does not contain any actual silver, it is just silver in color. A three-digit number on silver jewelry tells how much silver is in it. For example, “925” means the piece is 92.5% silver, so it is sterling. These three-digit numbers are also sometimes used on gold jewelry in place of karats.

Other purity marks you may find on jewelry include:

·       GF or GP – gold-filled or gold-plated

·       Vermeil – sterling silver with gold plating

·       Plat or PT – at least 95% platinum

·       Pall – at least 95% palladium

Your piece of jewelry may be able to tell you more than what it’s made of. A signature mark tells you who the manufacturer of the piece was. Just as the logos of well-known brands like Coke or KFC change over the years, jewelry makers often change the style of their signatures, so these marks can also give you an idea of when the piece was made. If the piece was made as part of a limited series for a retailer, a mark may signify that as well.

Very unique jewelry designs are often patented, and the patent number can appear right on the piece. U.S. patent numbers can be searched through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website and can provide a wealth of information, including the designer and when and where the piece was created.

If a piece of jewelry has gems in it, the weight of the gems may be stamped on it. If two numbers appear, the first number is likely the size of the largest gem (the solitaire) in carats, and the second number is the combined weight of all the others. “TDW” stands for the total diamond weight found on a piece with multiple gems. The gem weight may just be a number or it can be followed by “ct” or “cw.”

Deciphering the marks on jewelry is quite interesting, especially with pieces you have inherited or purchased from an auction or estate sale. Spend some time looking at your necklaces, rings, bracelets and pins—you may find a hidden treasure in your jewelry box!

Why Auctions Are the Best Way to Sell Unwanted Estate Items

Losing a loved one or moving them into a long-term care facility or senior living community can not only leave you emotionally drained, it can also leave you with a home full of belongings to deal with. While you and your family may want to keep some things for financial or sentimental reasons, chances are the majority of the belongings will need to be either sold or donated. Out of the numerous ways to sell unwanted items, the safest, easiest and most profitable is an auction.

Auctions are more profitable – As we discussed in a previous post "Are Auctions and Estate Sales the Same Thing?", items tend to sell for a higher price at an auction than an estate sale because bidders start low and drive the price higher instead of seeing a set price and potentially haggling for a lower one. Auctions are also more profitable than yard sales because they reach a larger market and people have several days to bid on items. With a yard sale, you are limited to the people who are available to come during the hours you are open, and when a customer offers you a price, you either have to take it right away or risk not having anyone stopping by who is interested in it.

Auctions are safer – Craigslist is a popular way to sell things and it casts a further net than a yard sale while still staying local enough for you to avoid paying shipping costs in most instances. However, there is the issue of getting the item to the buyer, which involves either them coming to your home to see or purchase what you’re selling, or you meeting them in a neutral place to make the exchange. Both of these options create a potentially dangerous situation. People have posed as potential buyers to gain access to a home, then come back to break in and steal things. This can also occur at yard sales if you have large items that are for sale but are still in your home. With an auction, only the people who have already bid and won items will be coming to the home, and the pickup is staffed by the auction company who is fully insured and bonded. Some auctioneers offer a two-hour or by-appointment-only preview time, which is also fully staffed.

Auction payments are more secure – Unless you sell things on a regular basis, you are probably not set up to accept credit cards, leaving cash or check as the only methods of payment. If you accept a check for a large purchase at a yard sale and it bounces, getting your money will be extremely challenging. And chances are a buyer will not be willing to wait until the check clears to come back to pick up a purchase. Mobile payments like Venmo allow you to take electronic payments, but buyers can cancel the fund transfer after they receive the item and before the money is deposited into your account. Buyers at an auction or online auction use credit cards to pay, making it more likely you will receive the money. Even if they do not pick up their purchases, per the terms and conditions of the auction the auction company can still charge their credit card and you receive the proceeds. The paid-for but unclaimed items are given to charity or you can choose to keep them.

Auctions are easier – Wouldn’t it be nice if someone came in and sorted everything you had to sell, made it available to buyers, handled the payments and purchase pick-up, and gave you the proceeds? That’s how auctions work. No more sorting, pricing, praying for good weather, lugging things outside, haggling over prices, or dealing with strangers. This doesn’t mean you have no control over the sale. You and your family members will decide what you want to keep before anything is put into the auction.

You’re dealing with enough already. Let a licensed auctioneer handle the unwanted items of the estate.

Are Auctions and Estate Sales the Same Thing?

When it’s time to downsize a home, people often turn to the professionals to sell their belongings rather than holding yard sales or trying to sell things on eBay or Craigslist. Auctions and estate sales (also called tag sales) are both ways to eliminate household goods and make a profit, and may seem very similar. But they are actually quite different.

Auctioneers are more accountable because they must be licensed in Kentucky to run live or online auctions and are held to a Code of Ethics. Their license number has to be readily available at any auction, and an address for complaints must be included in their contracts. Before a Kentucky auctioneer can be licensed, they must apprentice under a sponsoring auctioneer for one year, take 96 hours of classes, and pass two exams. All of this training benefits you because your sale is being handled by an educated, trustworthy person, This means they will help you get the most income for the items you are selling, and that you have a clear path to resolving an issue should one arise.

Estate sale companies aren’t licensed or regulated in any way, which means anyone can market themselves as an estate sale professional, even if they have had no training. Does that mean all estate companies are run by inexperienced people? Of course not. But they are out there, and if you have a complaint it can be much more difficult to get a resolution.

Another difference is the way your items will be priced. At tag sales, a price is marked on each item before the sale begins, which leaves nowhere for the price to go but down. Most people view estate sales as organized garage sales and haggle over the prices marked. Buyers will also often wait until the second or third day of the sale to buy because prices are reduced after the first day.

Prices start low at auctions and continue to climb based on demand. Some items that may not have seemed valuable can end up selling at a higher price if two or more bidders are interested. This means that as the auction progresses, your profit on each item increases, while with an estate sale, your profit on items decreases as day two and three approach.

At an auction, items that aren’t selling individually can be grouped together to make them more attractive to buyers. Estate sale items have already been priced and can’t be regrouped to increase their chances of being sold. Also, leftover items at estate sales often become the property of the company, so they can sell them at their next sale and not owe you any proceeds. This gives estate sales managers less incentive to get everything sold for you. If you are signing up to do an estate sale and don’t want them to take the leftover items, make sure you read the contract carefully.

A benefit to buyers at an auction is the ability to preview items for at least 12 hours before it starts. At a tag sale the selling starts as soon as people walk through the door, so buyers have to make quick decisions before someone else buys what they want. This may not seem important to you as a seller, but it actually is because your buyers won’t be rushing through your items to make sure they don’t miss out. Instead, they’ll have time to think about each one and may end up buying more.

The most important thing when hiring someone to help you sell your belongings is to find someone you are comfortable with and that you can trust. Ask friends or family members for referrals, take the time to get to know the people you’ll be working with, and understand exactly how your belongings will be sold.

The Difference Between Downsizing and Moving

Your parents moved you when you were a kid. You moved into a dorm and various apartments during college. You moved when you graduated, when you got married, and when you took an out-of-town job transfer. Throughout the years, you have become a moving machine. Surely your next move – downsizing – will be the same as all the others.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. No matter how many moves you have made throughout your lifetime, downsizing is different. Here’s why:

It may not be happening for a happy reason – In our business, the majority of people that we’re helping downsize are doing it because they need to. Maybe they’ve lost a spouse and can’t take care of the home by themselves, maybe they can no longer manage the stairs to the bedroom or bathroom, or maybe they’ve become unable to live alone. Whatever the reason, feeling like you’re moving because you have to not because you want to is very different and can be a very emotional experience.

You can’t take everything – Oftentimes, you move from one size place to a similar sized or even larger one, so you can take everything with you.  When you downsize, you move to a smaller space than you currently have, which means you will need to downsize your belongings as well. Parting with items that you have owned for decades or have sentimental value can be difficult.

It’s hard to get rid of everything you aren’t taking – Rather than finding a new spot for everything in your new home, you’ll need to find places for those items you decided not to keep. Your family members may want some items, but don’t count on them to take everything. (see Making Your Memorabilia a Gift, Not a Burden blog ). Selling items through yard sales or online can be time-consuming and cause you to deal with strangers trying to talk you down on prices, which can be uncomfortable and less profitable. Donating is always a good way to rid yourself of unwanted items because they will be going to someone else who can use them, but some organizations won’t take certain things or will not come pick anything up.

This downsize is permanent – You may have temporarily downsized before in your lifetime, either from your parents’ home to a dorm room, or maybe to live in a downtown apartment or overseas for a year. But your belongings were waiting for you when you returned. This type of downsize is normally permanent, so unless you have family members willing to house your overflow, whatever doesn’t fit in your smaller space will no longer be yours.

Fortunately, there is someone who can help make downsizing at least a little easier. Here’s how:

Inventory and Sorting– Our team inventories and sorts homes to be downsized to help make the decision on what you want to take and what you don’t. Sometimes just having someone to help you figure out what you can live without and what you can’t will enable you to not feel so overwhelmed with the downsize and move.

Floorplan Comparison – When we’re helping someone downsize, we use the floorplan of the new space to determine what can be kept and what won’t fit. We can show you different layouts that include certain things in one layout, and different things in another, allowing you to choose which will work best for you.

Unwanted Items – After you have decided what you’re keeping and what your friends and family members want, we can take care of the rest. We hold online auctions for clients on a regular basis. We handle all aspects of the process from cataloging and photographing, taking care of payments, and handling the pick-ups. We’ll also arrange for items that aren’t sold to be donated or removed.

Downsizing can be much more stressful than a regular move, but it doesn’t have to be. Let reSettled Life help you get from Point A to a smaller and more manageable Point B.




Making Your Memorabilia a Gift, Not a Burden

When it comes to downsizing, either through want or necessity, the most challenging part is deciding what to do with all of the “belongings,” like furniture, knick-knacks, kitchenware, pictures (both those that hang on the walls and those that go in albums), and papers. And if these items belong to you, you probably want them to stay in the family.  While your relatives may never want all of your belongings, there are things you can do to make the transition out of your house and potentially into theirs go more smoothly.

1.     Don’t expect them to take everything of yours – Different people have different tastes, even if they are closely related. What may be incredibly valuable to you may hold no sentimental value to your relatives. No matter how many times you tell the story about a particular item, or how much they enjoy hearing the story, they still may not want it. Sometimes it’s a matter of physical space. If your only child has bought himself one of those tiny homes that are currently so popular, he won’t even take your teacup collection, let alone your baby grand piano. And that’s okay, it doesn’t mean he loves the story, the teacups, the piano, or you, any less.

2.     Don’t expect them to take what is theirs – My friend’s mom has boxes full of things that once belonged to her and her siblings. Several of them hold a comic book collection that has yet to be moved in with its rightful owner, despite the fact he hasn’t lived at home for 25 years. Others hold stuffed animals and games their mother kept from their childhood.  Contrary to what she thinks, the children are not going to take these items to their respective homes, even though they may have owned them at one point. If you are holding on to your children’s belongings with the assumption they will want them, don’t. Tell them what you have and on what date you will be getting rid of it. If they don’t come get it before then, they will never take it.

3.     Pare down your belongings to what matters most to you – More than one child has heard the dreaded phrase, “I’m just going to leave this all for you to sort through.” When someone is faced with a home that is full from top to bottom, everything loses its value, financial or sentimental. They just want everything gone. If you want your loved ones to keep items that are valuable and special to you, clear out the rest of the clutter so they can focus on the important things and appreciate their worth.

4.     Provide information about your mementos – Keeping a record of your special belongings may seem morbid, but it really isn’t. Writing down the sentimental or monetary values of certain items will ensure that they are appreciated to their fullest by others. Consider creating a book of your most valuable items with photos and information about each piece.

5.     Keep track of who wants what – One of your kids may have expressed particular interest in something of yours even when they were still a child or young adult. Maybe it conjures up memories for them, or they just always found it unique. If you have verbally promised it to them, make it official by putting it in writing or including it in your will. That way they will be free to enjoy it without having potentially uncomfortable discussions with their siblings or other relatives.

Hopefully some of these tips will help your loved ones appreciate some of your belongings as much as you do, and help you realize that their love for you is not diminished if they don’t welcome everything you cherish into their homes.

The Cats Are Moving Too

Not all of our senior moves are for our senior residents, sometimes they also involve their favorite four-legged companions and those can come with some challenges of their own. We had the privilege of helping Ms. W make a transition from one independent senior community to another across town and needed to make sure we also included her two furry friends that would be making the move with her. 

Our team took a Friday afternoon to pack up Ms. W's belongings, leaving out items she would need over the weekend. We wanted to get as many of her personal items carefully packed to ensure that her new residence would feel like home right away. On Monday morning we arrived to meet the movers and oversee the move day. The decision was made that Ms. W's daughter would transport her beloved felines, following along with a reSettled Life policy, and we would make sure everything else was loaded on the moving truck and delivered to her new senior community. Although the cats ended up being a little more difficult to wrangle than we had originally thought, they were eventually secured and made their way to their new home ahead of Ms. W. 

Our reSettling process was a smooth one, as we loaded Ms. W new home with all of her favorite things, making sure to place those items in the same location they were at her previous residence and hanging every family picture and heirloom that she had on her walls around her room. Her furry friends stayed put in the bathroom, to become more acclimated with their new surroundings, and were ready to roam freely by the time we had finished up. When we had every box unpacked and removed from the room, every picture hung and cabinet filled, we said our goodbyes. We left Ms. W with a huge smile on her face and a sense of relief that the overwhelming move was complete and had not been as stressful as she thought it would be. Knowing we had a happy senior client, already settled in her brand new home, gave us a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, which meant we were able to leave with a smile! 

A Little of This and A Little of That

The month of April brought along a busy time for our team and the first project on the calendar was a full house sort/purge/donation pack/auction. I was contacted by the adult daughter, whose mother had recently passed away, and she was left with the home and all the personal content. She needed the house, which her family had lived in for well over 50 years, to be sorted through and cleaned out so she could then get it listed to sell. She wanted to sell, at auction, anything that we could and the purge or donate the rest at our discretion. We had our plan and we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

Tracy, one of my Team Leads, and myself spent a solid week sorting through this home that held decades of items, some that had not been unearthed in quite some time. We identified the pieces that we could clean up and catalog for the upcoming online auction and we bagged over 30 42-gallon contractor trash bags of items to be purged. We also were able to salvage some of the items that weren't quite auction quality but would still make a good charitable donation. We coordinated with our local charity contacts to get them the items that they could find new homes for and worked with another local service to arrange the garbage pick up. Check out just a few photos of the dramatic before and afters from several areas of the house!

Bedroom Before

Bedroom Before

Bedroom Before

Bedroom Before

Bedroom after our work and before auction! 

Bedroom after our work and before auction! 

Basement Before

Basement Before

Basement Before

Basement Before

Basement After! We cleared everything out, digging through items that had been boxed for decades!

Basement After! We cleared everything out, digging through items that had been boxed for decades!

After the home was completely cleaned out, other than the items to be sold at auction, we started our cataloging and photographing process to prepare for the online auction. We carefully tagged and inventoried all items and ran the online auction, complete with a preview day and staffed pick up dates. The client was able to make some profit from items in the house, that were no longer needed or wanted, and was also able to have the house completely emptied and ready to be placed up for sale. And all this was done in only a 4 week time period! We had a happy client and were so glad that we were able to help her in what seemed like a very large and overwhelming task, which is our goal with every transition no matter how big or small! 

A few items displayed for the online auction. 

A few items displayed for the online auction. 



A Gift of Time

As I've mentioned before, one of the most interesting aspects of my business is that no two moves or clients are the same. There are times when we work directly with the senior and then there are times when we are working with the adult child on behalf of their parent. This was the situation with our latest move and we were so honored to get to be involved in giving an unexpected gift at the end of the move.

Ms. L, the daughter of the senior client, contacted me with a complex move. Her mom, Mrs. A, at age 91, needed to be moved to a different senior community that would better fit her needs. The difficulty came with the fact that she did not live locally and was having to coordinate a complete downsize and transition from many miles away. Mrs. A had a 2 bedroom apartment and was moving to a companion suite, meaning a major downsize was going to need to take place. Ms. L was going to be in town for only 3 days and knew that she could not possibly complete the task at hand on her own. She also wanted to spend time with her mother, but anticipated that would be very limited due to the time constraints and the massive project for the 3 days. We were happy to step in and assist. 

Ms. L and I spoke over the phone and emailed several times over the course of a few weeks to plan as much as we could ahead of her arrival. I toured the new community, saw Mrs. A's new room and created a floor plan so we would know exactly what we could fit in the new space. The afternoon Ms. L arrived, my team was waiting and ready to pack Mrs. A's belongings that would be accompanying her to her new residence as well as oversee the movers that were handling the heavy lifting and delivery of Mrs. A's furniture. We spent the rest of the day carefully unpacking, labeling every personal item and arranging Mrs. A's new room to feel as much like her previous place, even making sure the wall hangings above her bed were there at the new residence. Again, as per our policy, every box was unpacked and every item stored in it's new home. 

The following 2 days consisted of sorting, donation packing and purging items leftover at Mrs. A's old apartment. Our team worked closely with Ms. L to determine what items she wanted to keep for herself and then we took care of getting those items shipped to her home states away. We also set up a great donation of furniture and household items with Lifeline Ministries, one of our partner charities. By the time we were finished the apartment was emptied of all the contents other than a few furniture pieces that family was picking up that evening.

There was a collective sigh of relief, by Ms. L and everyone involved, to know that what seemed an impossible task, had been completed and done so ahead of schedule. That's where the gift comes in. Ms. L did not anticipate having any real time to spend with her mom due everything that needed to be accomplished in such a short period of time. After a warm hug and some thank you's, Ms. L said "I couldn't have done this without you." The gift of time we were able to give to Ms. L to spend with her mom is priceless and why we have the motto "Getting You Back To What Really Matters." Yes, there are tasks that you have to complete and they can seem insurmountable, but by hiring reSettled Life, Ms. L was able to get back to really mattered and spend some quality time with her 91 year old mother. That is why this company exists and why we get to leave clients with a smile on our faces, to give something as precious as time with a loved one is a beautiful gift and one we love to be a part of!

Making sure these special pieces were hanging in this arrangement above Mrs. A's bed in her new residence was an important factor in our resettling process.

Making sure these special pieces were hanging in this arrangement above Mrs. A's bed in her new residence was an important factor in our resettling process.

Melanie, one of our team members, carefully sorting and packing years worth of items in Mrs. A's apartment.

Melanie, one of our team members, carefully sorting and packing years worth of items in Mrs. A's apartment.

The results of our work! 

The results of our work!