Identity of the Maker Establishes Value - from $15 to $300,000
Lecture by Lisebeth den Besten & Ben Lignel About Contemporary Jewelry

Values With and Without a Maker's Mark

Is this jewelry worth $5,000?
                             or $50,000?


It depends.   At least that is the opinion of the jewelry appraiser on Antiques Road.

Originally these were cuff links.  The current owners story was that they were Fabergé given as a gift from the Czar Nicholas II. Subsequently they were converted to earrings, and the original maker mark was removed along with the cuff link fixture on the back. 

As earrings they are worth an estimated $5,000 to $7,000.

The appraiser continues: "If they were converted back to cuff links, it wouldn't be original condition, of course, as cuff links...but they would be closer to their original condition. They would probably be worth $12,000 to $15,000."

If the inventory number on the back of the jewelry is confirmed to be a pair of Faberge cufflinks owned by Czar Nicholas II, "as Fabergé cuff links-- even converted-- in a retail setting, they would probably be sold for $40,000 to $50,000."

The significant issues here are condition, maker's mark of Fabergé, and provenance.

Condition counts. Converting the cuff links to earrings affects the condition; usually to the negative.  The general rule is that a preference for original condition brings top dollar.

The maker's mark confirms that these are genuine Fabergé, not simply in the style of Fabergé or another Russian jewelry maker.

Provenance is the documented history. While the participant on Antiques Roadshow had a great story, she had nothing in writing. This is why the appraiser says, "Czar Nicholas II kept a little book of his own collection of cuff links, and we could compare it to that to see if anything like that [inventory number on the back] appears [in the records of Fabergé or the Czar's records].

While few of us are as famous as Faberge (at least not yet), we can keep great inventory records to document our work for history.

The Professional Guidelines has a document, Inventory Records: Documentation and Provenance that you can use as a model for your records. The sample Inventory Record Form can be downloaded and printed for your convenience. Use this form to document important information about your work. It is available as a PDF suitable for printing or Excel.

Even if you do production, keep records for each style and the number produced.

Always mark your work. These two steps may affect the value of your work now or in the future.