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Researching Trademarks the Right Way

The most ignored step in describing a piece of jewelry is the trademark. Yes, most of the commonplace trademarks will not make any difference in value. Others, on the other hand, will increase the value noticeably. Do you know which trademarks are to be left out and which ones warrant the research?

In appraising, if you spend too much time on an item you are not making money!

The real reason that most gemologist-appraisers leave out the trademark information is that it takes too much time. First of all, trademark books are usually in company order. Thus, unless the mark is really easy to find, you may have to seek the mark on a page-by-page basis. For example, the book written by Dorothy Rainwater, American Jewelry Manufacturers, is a great book but it is in company order. In addition, once you locate a trademark, you have to distil from the narrative what you want to say in the appraisal. And you have to have the books in your library in the first place – most are out of print and difficult to acquire.

Then there is the Jewelers’ Circular Keystone (JCK) series of trademark books1. Most appraisers may have the one published in 1994 or 1984. Some diligent appraisers have two or three. The more you have, the more successful your research will be but you will spend a lot of time searching for marks. Lots of marks are duplicated from edition to edition – providing a circa time span but who has time? Rainwater’s book was a selected compilation of the JCK publications. And, they are in company order, sometimes separated into categories such as watches, tableware, rings, etc. In any case, it takes a lot of time to research a mark.

What about online searches?

Yes, you can find a lot of marks in numerous websites. Some are lists developed by individuals with an interest in marks. Some are databases that are searchable – with jewelry being only a part of a much larger array of mark – as evidenced by the numerous government websites. In a database, you may get hundreds or even of thousands of “hits” to surf through. Once you find a mark – you will have the problem of composing something to fit into the item’s description. The more time you spend, the less money you are making.