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Jewelry management for estate planning purposes

Tonks

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
515
In another thread, people started talking about how to manage jewelry collections for estate planning purposes, and I thought this was such a valuable topic that it merited its own thread.

Tagging @AllAboardTheBlingTrain @ForteKitty and @FL_runner

Would love to hear how everyone plans to organize their jewelry collections so that when you pass, your family knows what do do with the pieces you have spent so much time (and money) collecting.

My mom’s strategy was to simply write a list of pieces (“sapphire ring,” “tennis bracelet,” etc.) and then indicate which daughter was to receive the piece. My problem with this strategy is that her collection is extensive enough that it would be easy to mistake one piece for another. It also does not include any supporting documentation for any of her pieces (no invoices, no AGS/GIA certs, no info as to size/quality of stones), so that if we needed to sell something it would be extremely difficult, both as seller and for any potential buyers.

My initial thoughts for my own collection, based on something @AllAboardTheBlingTrain wrote, would be to photograph all my pieces for identification, but then you’ve also got to deal with getting all the documentation filed and in the correct place.

How are you approaching this?
 

icy_jade

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 1, 2009
Messages
3,604
Ok so this is a repost from the other thread but I did my filing recently and it took a few weekends but I finally sorted all my receipts and matched to the gem certs etc and they are finally all nicely filed.

Next step is to take pics of the items, file those pics in the file with the certs and then do up an inventory and it’s so daunting I’ve not started yet... but I will. I cannot imagine my husband (or kids) having to sort through the previous messy stack of stuff and figured that I’ll turn in my grave (ok likely cremated so I will raise a puff of dust!) if some of my precious colored stones are sold for pittance when I’m gone.

So from this...
8BCBEE52-A167-45DB-B858-94FCD7ED4E8A.jpeg

To this!
ABF14BE6-D445-44C6-B443-F668CB83CF50.jpeg

So what I finally imagine I would like to have for each item in the file:
- the receipt/s (could be one for the stone and then separately for the setting, etc) (done)
- the cert/s (done)
- a picture of the item
- a serial number on the picture pointing to the main inventory
- either an extract from the inventory or to be handwritten on the pic various details re: the item e.g. cert, place of purchase, price, etc

And then the inventory is to be maintained in a spreadsheet with different details of the items along with value etc. And for each file what is filed inside should have an overview inventory printed and filed on the first page of each file. So both hard copy and soft copy in case either one is gone.

Is this doable? I have a few hundred items so it sounds like a lot of work but it’s something that I really think needs to be done.

Oh, and to get a photo printer so that I can print the pics at home and avoid providing details to the photo shop.
 

ForteKitty

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
4,728
My current system is like your mom's, and it's so easy to mix things up because "emerald oec ring" can be like 5 things ranging from $500 to $5000. And apparently nobody knows what I mean when I write "antique football pinky ring", or "negative space pumpkin looking ring with filigree" My diamonds have GIAs but most aren't inscribed, so in some settings it's kind of useless. I know exactly which diamond is which by their appearance and individual characteristics, but nobody else will know. It all needs to be cataloged with pictures.
 

icy_jade

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 1, 2009
Messages
3,604
Oh ya, and I’m still thinking if I should go by type of item or type of stone for filing. E.g.

1. File by rings, pendants, bracelets, earrings, etc. So if I’m dead and gone and someone wants to look up my yellow sapphire ring, they will go through the “ring” file and should be able to find the info. Pro: everyone knows what a ring is. Cons: too many rings, still need to subdivide after I think.

2. File by gemstone type ie pearls, jadeite, colored gems (and then maybe sub-divide by type or color), diamonds. So using the same yellow sapphire example, then they need to go through my sapphire file and then look for the ring. I think this is easy for pearls, but hard for other CS. Like I’m not expecting my husband to know which red stone ring is the ruby vs rubellite and then look for stuff in the sapphire/ruby file vs tourmaline file right.

3. Hybrid. Pearls in one file/category, CS in another (and then split by items), and then diamonds

Thoughts? Which one you think is easier to maintain vs easier for people to look for stuff when we are dead and gone?
 

Tonks

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
515
Ok so this is a repost from the other thread but I did my filing recently and it took a few weekends but I finally sorted all my receipts and matched to the gem certs etc and they are finally all nicely filed.

Next step is to take pics of the items, file those pics in the file with the certs and then do up an inventory and it’s so daunting I’ve not started yet... but I will. I cannot imagine my husband (or kids) having to sort through the previous messy stack of stuff and figured that I’ll turn in my grave (ok likely cremated so I will raise a puff of dust!) if some of my precious colored stones are sold for pittance when I’m gone.

So from this...
8BCBEE52-A167-45DB-B858-94FCD7ED4E8A.jpeg

To this!
ABF14BE6-D445-44C6-B443-F668CB83CF50.jpeg

So what I finally imagine I would like to have for each item in the file:
- the receipt/s (could be one for the stone and then separately for the setting, etc) (done)
- the cert/s (done)
- a picture of the item
- a serial number on the picture pointing to the main inventory
- either an extract from the inventory or to be handwritten on the pic various details re: the item e.g. cert, place of purchase, price, etc

And then the inventory is to be maintained in a spreadsheet with different details of the items along with value etc. And for each file what is filed inside should have an overview inventory printed and filed on the first page of each file. So both hard copy and soft copy in case either one is gone.

Is this doable? I have a few hundred items so it sounds like a lot of work but it’s something that I really think needs to be done.

Oh, and to get a photo printer so that I can print the pics at home and avoid providing details to the photo shop.
When you say “serial number,” is your plan to assign each piece a number, both in photos and in the spreadsheet? That would simplify a great deal. I also like the idea of a printout as well as a digital copy of things. Though one would really have to be diligent about printing a new copy when you updated the digital, so they would be in sync.

My current system is like your mom's, and it's so easy to mix things up because "emerald oec ring" can be like 5 things ranging from $500 to $5000. And apparently nobody knows what I mean when I write "antique football pinky ring", or "negative space pumpkin looking ring with filigree" My diamonds have GIAs but most aren't inscribed, so in some settings it's kind of useless. I know exactly which diamond is which by their appearance and individual characteristics, but nobody else will know. It all needs to be cataloged with pictures.
Yes, that is the downside of such a system. Even assuming that non-jewelry people know what “OEC” means is really asking a lot. I was just asking my husband (brilliant man, but clueless about anything diamond or jewelry related) if he could differentiate between my studs (pre-PS studs, and 2.22 ctw CBIs), and he said no. :oops2: SO, holy crap, I need to get on this.

As to inscribed GIA or AGS numbers, I’ve not been able to see those with a 10x loupe. Wouldn‘t you need a 20x loupe minimum to see those? Would you leave instructions to that effect?
 

ForteKitty

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
4,728
I have my spreadsheet separated by type (ring/pendant/earring/bracelet/loose stones), and each category is sorted by diamond/gem. It's easier for people to know what the item is, vs "what type of gem is this green thing?"
 

MeowMeow

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 27, 2009
Messages
1,287
So I am not quite ready to document but I have been involved in helping another family member. Their system has been to write down each item and who it goes to but my suggestion was to do this and attach a picture of the item to the appraisal with a paperclip and write who it is going to on the back. This is going to be my system once I start that. Right now my collection is really very small and not worth all that rigmarole yet. It's just a few low cost natural gemstone rings, a couple loose lab stones, a few plain bands, my engagement and wedding rings, and a set unmentionable ring. Not really worth more than taking it all to a jeweller and asking for store credit for the lot. Really the only thing i would haunt anybody over just selling is my engagement ring lol. That I want passed down and I know if my husband is alive he will make sure that happens.
 

Tonks

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
515
So I am not quite ready to document but I have been involved in helping another family member. Their system has been to write down each item and who it goes to but my suggestion was to do this and attach a picture of the item to the appraisal with a paperclip and write who it is going to on the back. This is going to be my system once I start that. Right now my collection is really very small and not worth all that rigmarole yet. It's just a few low cost natural gemstone rings, a couple loose lab stones, a few plain bands, my engagement and wedding rings, and a set unmentionable ring. Not really worth more than taking it all to a jeweller and asking for store credit for the lot. Really the only thing i would haunt anybody over just selling is my engagement ring lol. That I want passed down and I know if my husband is alive he will make sure that happens.
What I am taking from thinking about this is that the time to start doing this is when your collection is very small.
 

ForteKitty

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
4,728
For the diamonds, I plan to sell all loose stones after all projects are completed so hopefully it won't be too difficult to identify the pieces. Each piece's GIA will be on the document and most have identifying inclusions so I'll just have to hope for the best. Ultimately, I do want to trim down my collection as much as possible so they wouldn't have to sort through 500 documents.
 

MeowMeow

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 27, 2009
Messages
1,287
What I am taking from thinking about this is that the time to start doing this is when your collection is very small.
Well most of the problem is pretty much every peice other than my engagement ring, wedding ring, and this set lab created unmentionable none of them ever had documentation to begin with. They were purchased for me by my grandmother who was not wealthy in any way so she wasn't buying expensive stuff. I only know for example that peice a) is an aquamarine of unknown size in an ugly AF 14k setting. Piece b) is a small peridot of unknown size in a 14k white gold setting.

I make sure now that when I get something new my jeweller sends a sort of appraisal with at least what it is and what it's made of and all I will need to do is print a picture and attach. So only 3 peices have papers at this time. Everything else is so unvaluable it wouldn't be worth more than the metal for scrap. Which is fine. It's only my engagement ring and maybe my wedding ring that's really important to me not getting scrapped.

Edit: I should make clear that I love those peices that were given to me. Ugly or not. It's just logically I know they are worth nil monetarily which is why i don't speak of them here sentimentally.
 
Last edited:

icy_jade

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 1, 2009
Messages
3,604
When you say “serial number,” is your plan to assign each piece a number, both in photos and in the spreadsheet? That would simplify a great deal. I also like the idea of a printout as well as a digital copy of things. Though one would really have to be diligent about printing a new copy when you updated the digital, so they would be in sync.
Yes... and I am thinking of a logical serial number system. E.g. 001-R0001P maybe can indicate it’s item number 1 on the inventory. R = ring and P = pearl.

Eventually I think the easiest to deal with estate items is to just assign standard slots to my items in my jewelry box and then maintain a small tag with the serial number as well, like how some old school jewelers have but not tied to my items. So each time after I wear the pearl ring for example, the paper tag goes back to the ring holder along with the ring.

A lot of work and discipline needed! So maybe totally unworkable so am still thinking.
 

PreRaphaelite

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 2, 2015
Messages
2,863
I have my little collection inventoried in a Google spreadsheet document, with photos, description, and scan of GIA reports. I highly recommend backing up your file online, whether Google, iCloud, Amazon, Dropbox, whatever. You can send a link to concerned parties.

If a piece and it’s paperwork goes ‘missing‘ during the bequest, everyone involved will know. If everything is lost in a fire, god forbid, you’ll still have the virtual file and can quickly get started with your insurance company. Thankfully those things are rare and unlikely!
 

MeowMeow

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 27, 2009
Messages
1,287
I have my little collection inventoried in a Google spreadsheet document, with photos, description, and scan of GIA reports. I highly recommend backing up your file online, whether Google, iCloud, Amazon, Dropbox, whatever. You can send a link to concerned parties.

If a piece and it’s paperwork goes ‘missing‘ during the bequest, everyone involved will know. If everything is lost in a fire, god forbid, you’ll still have the virtual file and can quickly get started with your insurance company. Thankfully those things are rare and unlikely!
Oh this is a good idea! Would probably be easier for us than printing atm. Thanks for it!
 

lilmosun

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 30, 2014
Messages
1,749
My system is fairly simple using inexpensive clear photo sleeves.

Whenever I get something, I take a photo. On the back, I write down the details including any historical/sentimental background if applicable. Slip it into a sleeve along with any receipts, etc. (Larger certs are stored in a folder and referenced in the notes on the back of the photo.)

I store the photo sleeves in a photo box (shoebox?) organized by type (rings, necklaces, bracelets, pearls). Within each type, I organize the sleeves by color so they are easy to find.

I found this quick to implement and easy to maintain

PXL_20201024_135645235.jpg
 

marymm

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 21, 2010
Messages
4,346
^ my system is very similar, using archive-quality plastic sleeve with photo in front and all supporting info (invoices, lab reports) behind, one sleeve for each jewelry item -- the stack of plastic sleeves all in a container box, with a summary sheet on top -- and the box is explicitly referenced in my estate documents.
 

icy_jade

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 1, 2009
Messages
3,604
Just to share

 

123ducklings

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 10, 2020
Messages
537
For the diamonds, I plan to sell all loose stones after all projects are completed so hopefully it won't be too difficult to identify the pieces. Each piece's GIA will be on the document and most have identifying inclusions so I'll just have to hope for the best. Ultimately, I do want to trim down my collection as much as possible so they wouldn't have to sort through 500 documents.
My grandmother gave away (to children/grandchildren) the majority of her collection about ten years before she passed. Luckily she lived a long and healthy life, but people also have unpredictable things happen so I feel it’s wise to keep organized notes, even just for insurance purposes during one’s life!
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
828
So I helped my mom do this with her collection and it took us quite a while but the good thing is that now it’s all documented and to add to the collection now takes hardly any time. You just have to get started - do your most significant pieces first, and do them a little at a time.

this is the system we hit upon:

- each piece is assigned a serial number (we just have a simple 1,2,3 kind of system right now but I like @icy_jade’s idea of subdividing by jewelry type, so we might do that next), though we won’t change the serial numbers now - too painful of a process to retake ALL those pictures.

- each piece has a short description with: metal colour, type and number of stone, total ctw, hallmarks if any, visual description, weight of piece in grams, any GIA number or invoice number associated with piece if applicable (for eg: sno. 001: one floral cluster ring with oval ruby 2.14ct with 9 round diamonds total diamond ctw xx ct in 18k WG, invoice no. ABC123, total weight of ring xx.xx g).

- we printed the description out on small pieces of paper, and took pictures of each individual piece on a uniform background (white paper) with the description card included in the picture (just with a phone, not anything fancy). Each picture was uploaded onto a computer and renamed to its serial number (sno-001, sno-002 etc).

- each piece is inside its own box / bag with the description card tucked inside. Care is taken to make sure the card doesn’t get lost, and if it does, a replacement card is printed ASAP from the master file and tucked inside.

- an excel file is maintained with the following columns: serial number, description, picture (embedded inside the file), and eventual bequest plans. This excel and all the pictures are in a single folder on the computer.

- a file is maintained for all invoice/GIA certs. Each document is filed in order (so for eg if 001 has an invoice, 002 has an invoice and a GIA cert, 003 and 004 have nothing, and 005 has a GIA cert, it would be filed with the invoice for 001 followed by the invoice for 002 followed by the GIA cert for 002, followed by the GIA cert for 005). We try not to mix this up since these are never really looked at, but all invoices and GIA certs are also scanned and labelled accordingly, and saved on the computer in the same folder, so that if the physical copies ever do go missing, at least we have the digital copies.

- my next project is going to be to make the excel easier to search through by adding a column for jewelry type - then if someone just wants to see all the rings, for example, all they have to do is filter the sheet to only show all rings. I could also add a column for type (all metal, pearl, diamond, CS) but I haven’t decided if it’s totally necessary yet.

The nice thing about having it all on excel / on a computer is that it makes sorting and searching so much easier!
 

whitewave

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
10,252
My loose plan (if I am able) is to give them away while I am still alive so I know it went to the person I wanted to have it.

(What my aunt has been doing is going through her house and turning things upside down and putting a post it note with a person’s name on it lol)...
 

elizat

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Messages
2,152
I guess I would document what stuff is with instructions on where to send them for sale. Probably whomever is my go to jeweler at the time.

No children, and no possible children, so no grandchildren. My brother is a gay man, but wants no jewelry. He won't have kids either. I am not close with any relatives other than my parents and brother.

I'd have everything sold off and be donated to animal rescue.

There is nobody that I'd contemplate wanting anything.
 

GliderPoss

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 25, 2008
Messages
2,670
As someone who used to be a legal secretary, trust me getting this sorted before it’s too late is a great idea! We saw all sorts of nasty disputes over heirloom objects and it would have been heartbreaking for the deceased had their known. I plan to pass all mine on to my nieces & nephews but I should definitely start a file for insurance purposes too. The main thing is to be super clear to WHOM it’s going to - leave no doubt as to interpretation!
 

Tonks

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
515
Just to share

Omg, what a great resource!!! Thank you for sharing this!
 

Tonks

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
515
So I helped my mom do this with her collection and it took us quite a while but the good thing is that now it’s all documented and to add to the collection now takes hardly any time. You just have to get started - do your most significant pieces first, and do them a little at a time.

this is the system we hit upon:

- each piece is assigned a serial number (we just have a simple 1,2,3 kind of system right now but I like @icy_jade’s idea of subdividing by jewelry type, so we might do that next), though we won’t change the serial numbers now - too painful of a process to retake ALL those pictures.

- each piece has a short description with: metal colour, type and number of stone, total ctw, hallmarks if any, visual description, weight of piece in grams, any GIA number or invoice number associated with piece if applicable (for eg: sno. 001: one floral cluster ring with oval ruby 2.14ct with 9 round diamonds total diamond ctw xx ct in 18k WG, invoice no. ABC123, total weight of ring xx.xx g).

- we printed the description out on small pieces of paper, and took pictures of each individual piece on a uniform background (white paper) with the description card included in the picture (just with a phone, not anything fancy). Each picture was uploaded onto a computer and renamed to its serial number (sno-001, sno-002 etc).

- each piece is inside its own box / bag with the description card tucked inside. Care is taken to make sure the card doesn’t get lost, and if it does, a replacement card is printed ASAP from the master file and tucked inside.

- an excel file is maintained with the following columns: serial number, description, picture (embedded inside the file), and eventual bequest plans. This excel and all the pictures are in a single folder on the computer.

- a file is maintained for all invoice/GIA certs. Each document is filed in order (so for eg if 001 has an invoice, 002 has an invoice and a GIA cert, 003 and 004 have nothing, and 005 has a GIA cert, it would be filed with the invoice for 001 followed by the invoice for 002 followed by the GIA cert for 002, followed by the GIA cert for 005). We try not to mix this up since these are never really looked at, but all invoices and GIA certs are also scanned and labelled accordingly, and saved on the computer in the same folder, so that if the physical copies ever do go missing, at least we have the digital copies.

- my next project is going to be to make the excel easier to search through by adding a column for jewelry type - then if someone just wants to see all the rings, for example, all they have to do is filter the sheet to only show all rings. I could also add a column for type (all metal, pearl, diamond, CS) but I haven’t decided if it’s totally necessary yet.

The nice thing about having it all on excel / on a computer is that it makes sorting and searching so much easier!
Oh, wow!!!! This is amazing. I cannot imagine how long this must have taken you to do. Your mother is lucky to have you.
 

icy_jade

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 1, 2009
Messages
3,604
Stupid question but for people who have a son and a daughter (ie only two kids, and one of each sex), how do you decide how to split the bling stash?

I’m sort of presuming that my son isn’t interested anyway and maybe just leaving him one or two items as momento but is that a right assumption?

He’s so young (6 yo) so right now he doesn’t care.
 

AllAboardTheBlingTrain

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 22, 2020
Messages
828
Stupid question but for people who have a son and a daughter (ie only two kids, and one of each sex), how do you decide how to split the bling stash?

I’m sort of presuming that my son isn’t interested anyway and maybe just leaving him one or two items as momento but is that a right assumption?

He’s so young (6 yo) so right now he doesn’t care.
I don’t have kids of my own yet but I’ve actually thought about this question when my mom was doing her own estate planning, and I think if I have a son and daughter I would like to split my collection in the future the way my aunt did: so both my children get things of (near) equivalent value, but I let my daughter get first pick of everything. Reason being, I assume my son would eventually get married, statistically to a woman, and so my bling would be divided amongst two families and eventually go to any future grandchildren if any. I don’t think its completely fair to leave one kid out of the share of bling, unless they both decide, as adults, that they want to have my future daughter inherit almost all my bling.

My aunt’s daughter is older than her son, so she sat her daughter down when she did her own jewelry estate planning, and showed her a list/pictures of all her bling, and they divided the lot into two together. The son was still pretty young so he wasn’t married / didn’t weigh in on the process. She had a pendant which her son had always told her looked really pretty on his mama as a kid, so she made sure that went to her son, and I think she gave her son her wedding set (to ideally propose to his future SO with, but if he doesn’t she won’t be unhappy about it) and her daughter her RHR and eternity band. The only thing she specified was that in case her son decided in the future to sell any of her bling, he had to give her daughter (his sister) right of first refusal over buying the piece, but she would leave the price negotiations up to them. Her reasoning was that her daughter had already picked her own favorite pieces, so she was unlikely to want anything out of the other lot of bling, but if she did want something, she would have to compensate her brother.
 

inne

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 12, 2019
Messages
117
My parents are very worried about how inheritances can damage relationships, so they have have decided to split all their money perfectly evenly been my sister and me. Then we are to sell all their material goods at an estate sale or via auction. If we want a particular thing, we have to 'buy' it and that amount is deducted from our share of the monetary inheritance and we split whatever profit is made after that. That way we can get what we want without any issues about one of us getting more. I'm pretty sure this will work just fine because my sister is not sentimental about objects and I can't really picture us wanting the same things. You never know, of course!

My dad has photographed each significant object (watches, jewellery, cars) and created a written inventory along with a suggested reserve price for each item. If something is best sold through a particular place or if I should consult a particular organization to get pricing information, that is noted as well. He suggests we hold off on selling anything until we can do it logically and not in the midst of grief, which seems like a good idea to me.

My parents are not sentimental about stuff either, so they have no preferences regarding who gets what.

I personally have no instructions or even a will at this point. It's not urgent because the chance of my husband and I both dying at this point in our lives is so slim, and I don't think anyone is waiting in the wings for anything anyway. I'm guessing most of our money would go toward paying for our pets to live out potentially very long lives, and they have no interest in jewellery :)
 

CSpan

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 7, 2016
Messages
754
I have my little collection inventoried in a Google spreadsheet document, with photos, description, and scan of GIA reports. I highly recommend backing up your file online, whether Google, iCloud, Amazon, Dropbox, whatever. You can send a link to concerned parties.

If a piece and it’s paperwork goes ‘missing‘ during the bequest, everyone involved will know. If everything is lost in a fire, god forbid, you’ll still have the virtual file and can quickly get started with your insurance company. Thankfully those things are rare and unlikely!
I don't have certs for anything, my diamonds are all from estate sales/vintage. But I have appraisals so I scanned those and put them in cloud files with photos (cause if there is one thing I got it is photos) and arranged them from most valuable to least. I have the file folders backed up at least three places. But since we have no heirs I am really just doing this for insurance. No idea what will happen to my jewelery.
 
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