Jewelry by its very nature is quite valuable. But did you know the box they’re stored in the can, in many cases, be more valuable than the treasures they keep?
An antique jewelry box can be worth lots of money in the eyes of collectors and fashion-savvy buyers. With thousands of designs, styles, shapes, sizes and materials used, the boxes are highly collectible and many one-of-a-kinds exist.
They’re found everywhere, including yard sales and thrift stores, and are often sold well below their potential. This provides a great opportunity for a collector to make a fast profit on something often overlooked at public auctions.
Today, we’re going to explore ten of the most popular styles, we’re going to show you just how valuable your old box can be.
10 Most Popular Jewelry Box Styles
Jewelry boxes have existed for thousands of years. Every era, people wanted to keep their most prized possessions safe.
It’s no surprise they underwent many, many styles throughout history. These boxes often mirrored popular mainstream culture.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular, including examples of their true market worth:
1. Presentation boxes
Presentation boxes are perhaps one of the most popular forms of jewelry boxes today. Great for sending gifts or keeping values safe, their style has changed so much with every year that passes.
Because of their long shape, presentation boxes often held long pieces of jewelry, like bracelets, watches, and necklaces.
Some styles are quite simple, but can still fetch a high price at auction because of their signature, and grand appearance. Many have lift-out trays which are useful for holding smaller jewelry like rings, pins, brooches, and earrings.
- This Antique Velvet Burgundy presentation box is worth $45.
- This Antique English presentation box is worth $80.
- This Cartier Presentation box is worth $435
- This 1882 King Ebony presentation box is worth $3,872
2. Musical jewelry boxes
Music boxes are already highly collectible antiques. Couple with a jewelry box feature, and you have a winning combination that can be worth thousands of dollars.
Many musical jewelry boxes are feminine in design and play simple, sweet tunes when wound up. If the tune is recognizable, this usually adds more value to the box.
Prices vary depending on good condition and working order. If the box cans still play, it will be worth considerably more. Some range from a couple of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Examples include:
- This 1950s vintage musical jewelry box has three decorative storage drawers and is worth $85.
- This 20thCentury Japanese Musical Jewelry box is worth $458
- This 1910 German Musical Jewelry box is worth $10,039
3. Gothic style
Gothic antiques have a signature style that will always mean they’re in high demand at auctions. Whether it’s the decorative embossing, or clever use of glass, gems, they are very trendy for both collectors and fashion-minded consumers.
Gothic boxes were made by highly-skilled craftsmen, as wooden boxes often had intricate carvings and embossed work. Themes ranged from architecture to religious scenes. Examples include:
- This medieval Gothic casket jewelry box is worth $169
- This Coromandel Gothic jewelry box is worth $193
- This 1900s Gothic embossed copper jewelry box is worth $786
4. Compact jewelry boxes
When we think of compacts, we think of small amounts of makeup. But many of these antiques have been or can be repurposed into small jewelry boxes.
Some are generic and worth only a couple of dollars. But some are diamonds in the rough, sporting high-quality finishes, and have ornate details worth thousands of dollars. Examples include:
- This Antique Farrington Jewelry Compact box is worth $15
- This 1910 Carter Gough & Co. Ladies Compact Box is worth $7,486
5. Tramp Art Jewelry Boxes
Tramp art boxes followed the folk style of carving intricate designs out of ordinary wooden things like cigar boxes.
These repurposed boxes became incredibly popular because of how fashionable the boxes became and because every piece was unique.
Many boxes feature abstract woodwork, with overlapping arches and complex features. They often had glass, pebbles, or shells attached to add more character and detail.
The original boxes were often made of cheap wood, so tramp art jewelry boxes can often be fragile and break easily. Condition is important. Examples include:
- This Antique Lock & Key Tramp Art Box is worth $95
- This 1893 Carved Brass Tramp Art Box is worth $938
- This American Tramp art miniature dress box is worth $3,670
6. Art Nouveau jewelry boxes
Art Nouveau was a popular art style from the 1890s until the first world war, which focused on linear designs and curves. It impacted everything from architecture and artwork, to jewelry and the boxes they came in.
It was common for these antique boxes in particular to feature asymmetrical designs. They could also be made from several materials, including wood, enameled copper, and sterling silver. Examples include:
- This French Wooden Art Nouveau jewelry box is worth $471
- This 1900s German Art Nouveau jewelry box is worth $1,006
- This 1915 Sterling Silver Enamel jewelry box is worth $2,734
7. Art deco jewelry boxes
Art deco is famously for being luxurious, glamourous, and expensive. Popular in the 1920s, designs were sleek, streamlined, and highly individualized, with many pieces becoming one-of-a-kind.
Because many art deco boxes are in very short supply, they can go for incredibly high amounts at auction, even if it has a simple design. Art deco pieces are so unique, that they can grow in value every year. Examples include:
- This 1900 French ivory Art Deco jewelry box is worth $224.
- This 1920s Art Deco Round jewelry box is worth $251.
- This Italian Murano Art Deco jewelry box is worth $2,955.
- This 1920s René Lalique box is worth $13,109
8. Leather jewelry boxes
Perhaps one of the most common antique jewelry boxes on the market is made from leather. Leather-made boxes were very popular throughout history because it was widely available. It also protected jewelry very well, by keeping the box airtight.
Though very common, specific leather boxes can still fetch a huge amount at auction. Leather which is old and high-quality will be worth more money. Examples include:
- This Antique English Leather fitted jewelry box is worth $395
- This 1920s Indonesian black leather jewelry box is worth $755
- This Traveller’s leather jewelry box is worth $2,445.
9. Porcelain jewelry boxes
The rise in the popularity of porcelain happened throughout the 18th century. Porcelain jewelry boxes, also known as trinket boxes, were popular because they often matched the jewelry worn at the time.
Porcelain boxes often had hand-painted scenes. They also had sturdy lids that fastened securely, protecting jewelry inside. As a fragile material, quality is important in a sale. Examples include:
- This French porcelain trinket box is worth $381
- This Sevres-styled Serpentine trinket box is worth $2,750.
10. Lacquer jewelry boxes
Popular in the 1920s, lacquer finishes to wooden furniture helped elevate an otherwise cheap material, into a premium, luxurious item.
Lacquered jewelry boxes had the advantage of being strong and sturdy, but also fashionable. Many come in different, unique sizes and styles that transcend genre. Examples include:
- This Korean Mother Of Pearl black lacquer jewelry box is worth $900
- This 1900s Japanese Makie jewelry box is worth $1,395
- This 19th Century black lacquer cabinet jewelry box is worth $1,468
Where to buy & sell old jewelry boxes
Old jewelry boxes are found everywhere there are antiques. From yard sales and charity shops to estate sales and more. You probably have one or two gathering dust in your attic!
Most sellers underestimate their true value. If you reckon you have a valuable box and want to turn it into some money, here are some of our recommended sites to use:
1st Dibs – popular for high-end jewelry boxes, 1st Dibs has some of the rarest antiques on the market. Useful for market estimations, this site has a great reputation for antiques worldwide.
Etsy – Particularly useful for art deco, tramp art, and art nouveau boxes, Etsy has a vibrant, active, and engaging jewelry box category. Some listings may be restorations and not antiques.
Ruby Lane – With both cheap and expensive listings, Ruby Lane is another highly recommended auction site. It hosts very unique jeweler boxes you won’t find anywhere else.
eBay – with thousands of antique listings posted every day, eBay is the go-to place for buying and selling jewelry boxes.
Morning Glory Antiques – though not as widely known as other auction sites, Morning Glory is particularly useful for organizing quick, private auctions of jewelry boxes. Prices are mid-ranged at around $500.