Passing Down the Legacy: Etiquette for Inheritance Jewelry
When a family member passes away, apart from getting through the grieving process and organizing funeral preparations, families also have to consider inheritance. This could include the house that your grandfather left behind, the pieces of artwork that your aunt collected, or the jewelry items they used to own.
Just like other assets, family members usually fight for or try to get a claim on pieces of jewelry, both for sentimental or monetary reasons. To avoid conflict, however, there are some considerations that you should know about. Understanding etiquette for inheritance jewelry can guide you to make the right decisions and avoid conflict among your siblings or relatives.
What is Inheritance Jewelry?
As the name suggests, this type of jewelry is a piece that's been passed down to a family member as part of an individual's inheritance. These could include your grandmother's favorite pearl earrings, your grandfather's diamond wedding ring, and the like.
Significance of Inherited Jewelry
Inherited jewelry is highly important to the people it’s been passed on to. It carries a sentimental value or priceless family significance with tons of memories and history. Furthermore, from a financial aspect, jewelry is part of an estate. This means that not only does it have an emotional value attached to it, but it also has a monetary value. Considering this is essential, especially when the deceased’s will is being carried out.
Inheritance Etiquette: What to Do With Inherited Jewelry
Jewelry is meant to be worn, whether old or new. Most likely, the former owner would still want you to wear their jewelry piece. So if you're a jewelry lover and want to wear that heirloom engagement ring that suits your fashion style, go ahead! Just make sure you take good care of it to preserve it well.
Make some changes
In line with wanting to wear it, perhaps you’ve considered making specific changes to suit your taste. For example, if a key point of a necklace is the pendant, but you’re not very fond of the chain that goes with it, you can change this part of the necklace with the different material and style that you want and keep the pendant. Another example is altering a bracelet to make smaller ring pieces.
You might be wondering if altering the piece is considered rude or disrespectful. If it’s handed down to you, you technically have control over what you want to do with it, but it’s still best to ensure that your family members are alright with what you’re about to do or change. It’s best to do this to avoid potential conflicts like sibling fights. As long as you honor the piece and its value, there’s nothing wrong about changing it, especially if you intend to honor their memory by wearing it.
Divide among siblings
Inherited jewelry will sometimes also be divided among siblings or family members. This entirely depends on the will or requests that the deceased made before their passing, but whatever they indicate must always be followed before anything else. For example, a great-grandparent might decide to give their wedding ring to their son and leave a bracelet for their granddaughter.
There are other ways to divide jewelry pieces among siblings, including by value and request. As the name indicates, the former includes dividing the pieces based on their monetary value. At the same time, the latter depends on what a family member would want to have based on a piece’s sentimental value (regardless of its monetary value). Equally dividing them can help avoid unhealthy competition with siblings.
Pass it on
Another great idea is for you to keep the items of jewelry left behind and start a wonderful family tradition by passing them on to the next generation. For example, if you got a multi-stone necklace from your mother, you can hold onto it for a while and give it to your child in the future.
Sell the jewelry
You can also consider selling the inherited piece. In the jewelry industry, antique or historical pieces appreciate over time, so many people consider them a good investment. If you, specifically, have been left a jewelry item, you can do the same as long as it’s alright for you and others who might be concerned.
When selling, you've got two options: selling the jewelry as it is or selling it in part. For example, if a ring is made of precious metal and gemstones, you can go to a professional jeweler to get it cut and sell each component instead.
Take good care of the jewelry
Finally, regardless of what you choose to do with it, it’s important to care for the jewelry pieces left behind. This includes getting it cleaned or making any necessary repairs to preserve it. You could also insure your jewelry for safekeeping reasons. This helps you feel more at ease, knowing you'll get something back if something happens to them.
Deciding to Sell: Things to Consider
The emotional aspect of selling the piece
One of the main things you should consider before selling is people's emotional attachment to the jewelry. People have second thoughts about selling their inherited pieces because of sentimental reasons. So with that, it's best to talk to your family members about your thoughts on selling the item before proceeding with it.
The same applies if your siblings or relatives would want you to sell them, but you don't. You don't need to be pressured into anything, especially if you've considered the legal heir. If you want to keep it, then you should.
The piece’s value
Not knowing whether doing so would benefit them more than just using or keeping something so sentimental holds people back from selling. Would it be better to sell it now or keep it as more time passes? Would it be better to sell it as the piece itself, or would it be better to sell parts of the jewelry piece?
To know this, it’s best to consult an expert - like a gemologist or a jewelry appraiser. This could help you decide whether selling inherited jewelry is the best choice for you and is worth it.
Inheritance Jewelry FAQs
What are the rules about inheritance jewelry?
Since it’s an estate, you really need to treat it like other assets that the deceased has left behind. These pieces should not be passed off as some random thing you can claim for yourself. When it comes to the distribution of jewelry, the executor must always ensure that the piece goes to the correct heir to avoid issues and that the value is correctly distributed depending on the deceased's instructions.
Is it OK to sell inherited jewelry?
There might be some guilt associated with selling something that’s supposedly very sentimental and precious to your family, but selling inherited jewelry is more common than you think. It’s completely fine to sell a piece as long as you’ve discussed this with family members and the will of the deceased is honored. You can even use the funds from selling the jewelry piece for other important things and spend it in your family member's memory, like getting a new house or funding your child's education.
How do you distribute jewelry in an estate?
It’s best to consult a professional (the executor) to be able to do this. As mentioned above, the division of jewelry in an estate depends on the deceased’s will. If, for example, your grandfather asked to leave his wedding ring to your older brother, then the executor should honor this and leave this to him. If there’s none, the executor would then base this on the value. This is where appraisals are needed. For you and your siblings to get an equal share or get a share that’s been specified in the will, you must know the value of the jewelry piece.
Get an appraisal from Willyn Villarica Jewelry
Whether you choose to sell your piece or have the pieces distributed equally among your siblings, it's highly recommended to get an appraisal from a trusted professional. With the only NAJA-recognized appraiser in the Philippines, you will surely get an accurate appraisal from Willyn Villarica Jewelry.
Send your inquiries or book an appointment now. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our Facebook (Willyn Villarica Jewelry) or Instagram (@willynvillarica_jewelry) accounts.