A Guide to Vintage Jewelry Presentation Boxes [Styles & Values]
Hi there! If you’ve been following my “What’s Selling” posts then you know that I’ve had terrific success selling vintage jewelry presentation boxes over the past couple of years. Many readers have registered surprise that these charming little boxes could be so desirable. So I thought I’d provide a guide on the topic so you too can earn some income off of these little treasure boxes. In today’s post we’ll look at what they are exactly, where to find them, what they’re worth, and where to sell them. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
What are Jewelry Presentation Boxes?If you search Google for jewelry presentation box, you won’t get results for gift or display boxes like those you’ll see in this post, and you certainly won’t find out any information about them. They are the sort of collectible not typically collected for their own virtue, but rather for their very specific function: they were made to hold or “present” jewelry. People giving vintage or antique jewelry gifts to friends or family might want to present that gift in an equally vintage or antique “box.” Similarly, sellers of antique jewelry often like to display their wares in older presentation boxes since it makes jewelry cases more attractive. Of course the boxes, as well as the jewelry would be for sale. Jewelers in the past (and some in the present) would commonly purchase boxes and have their name and sometimes their address printed on the interior of the lid. We’ll see some examples of that. Manufactures have made presentation boxes in an array of materials, including:
Where to Find Jewelry Presentation Boxes?While jewelry presentation boxes are not the easiest of vintage goods to find, it’s not impossible. And now that you know what you’re looking for, you can keep your eyes open, and even ask sellers if they happen to have any they could show you. It’s one of those items that not all sellers are clued into so you may be able to purchase them at prices that leave room for you to make a good profit. Unfortunately, to people not in the know, they don’t necessarily “look” valuable, so I’m afraid they are often thrown away. I have pretty good luck finding cardboard examples at garage and estate sales and have snatched my fair share out of the trash at said sales. Check eBay regularly and you might be lucky enough to snag a small collection of them for a decent price. You can then resell them individually at a profit.
Where to Sell Jewelry Presentation Boxes?In general, jewelry presentation boxes will sell from most venues, including antique booths, Etsy, and eBay; however, I have found that they sell consistently well, i.e., quickly and for premium prices, on Etsy. That’s where I tend to sell them. Here you see an example of a listing for one of my presentation boxes that’s currently available on Etsy. Take note of the title; be sure to describe it well since this effects how it is shown in Etsy and Google searches. I take up to twelve photos of my boxes to ensure the potential buyers feel as though they had held it in their hands. As with the title, you want to be sure to describe your boxes well in the listing, particularly any condition issues.
Vintage Jewelry Presentation Box Price GuideLet’s take a look at a variety of presentation box examples and consider the values for each type. Leather and velvet tend to garner the highest prices particularly if they have a button closure in the front, usually made of brass or mother-of-pearl. I have been extremely fortunate to sell nineteen presentation boxes over the past two years, most of which you’ll see below, for a total of $425.50. That’s an average of $22/box(!).
Antique Leather Presentation BoxesLeather boxes, like this one, are among the most valuable of all boxes. The satin interior of the lid is marked, “Sam’l Newman & Co. Jewelers, 216 Trumbull St. Hartford, Conn.” The bottom interior is lined with beige velvet and the leather exterior is decorated with a delicate gold gilt pattern. Note the little brass button on the front; when pushed it releases the catch and the lid “pops” open. As I mentioned, buttons increase the value of a box significantly. I sold this box on Etsy in May 2020 for $23, despite its poor, raggedy condition. If perfect, it would likely sell for $75-100. This leather example, also with a brass button and gold gilt decoration on the leather exterior, sold on Etsy in April 2020 for $28. The satin interior of the lid is marked, “Syracuse, NY.” An additional line of text, presumably the jeweler’s business name is illegible.
Velvet Jewelry Presentation BoxesIf I had done thorough homework on this velvet earring and necklace presentation box before I sold it, I would have discovered that “Phyllis Originals” manufactured quality costume jewelry in the 1940’s & 50’s. It would have been a nice bit of info to include in the description. In very good condition, it sold in May 2020 for $27.99. This c. 1910-20 navy blue velvet ring box with a mother-of-pearl button sold for $17.99 in January 2020. Marked “The Gift Shop, Utica, NY,” it had some condition issues as you can see in the second photo where some of the velvet appears a bit flea bitten. I priced this almost-round velvet presentation box “by Lang” a bit lower than others because it had lost its bottom insert. It sold in June 2019 for $14.99. Lang was a Providence (RI) jewelry company from the 1940’s (to 1970’s) that focused primarily on sterling silver. The jewelry mark entailed an “S” in the shape of a swan figure followed by “Lang.” This large navy velvet presentation box marked “Coro Deb” is missing its bottom insert, which would have nicely displayed a necklace of some sort. Coro is a pretty big name in costume jewelry, in fact, I have a blog post planned with loads of examples. Other than the missing insert, it’s in pretty good shape for something dating to about 1950. It’s worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $25-$30 and is currently listed in my Etsy shop. This poor little antique presentation box with a mother-of-pearl button made me think of a worn teddy bear whose fur has been rubbed off through years of love. There was literally not a nub of velvet left on this box, and as you can see, even the interior needs a bit of work. Nonetheless, it sold last month for $23.99. For anyone interested, it takes about an hour to reach Canajoharie (NY) from my home here in Albany (NY). They have a nice little museum there, the Arkell, and not too far away a great shop, Fort Plain Antiques. This navy blue velvet earring box with brass button sold on eBay in 2018 for $15.50. Signed Trifari, another good name in vintage costume jewelry, this c. 1940’s clam shell-shaped, beige velvet box sold for $23.99 on Etsy in 2020. The gold foil label partially covering the Trifari mark contains the jeweler’s name; I left it in place since I couldn’t easily remove it. I lowered the price to reflect that. Without it, I would have priced the box at about $30 or so.
Lucite Jewelry Presentation BoxBack in 1931, Dupont invented Lucite, a relatively new form of plastic at the time, following on the heels of other collectible plastics like celluloid and Bakelite. In March I sold a large Lucite cocktail ring and a couple of years ago I sold a vintage Lucite cat pin for $141.49. The velvet lined bracelet case you see here sold on Etsy in November 2019 for $29.
Celluloid & Plastic Vintage Jewelry Presentation BoxesPlastic presentation boxes, sometimes referred to as “celluloid” (an early form of plastic), sell as easily as leather and velvet, if for slightly less money. The plastic ring box on the left with the blue velvet interior sold for $24.99, while the celluloid example with lovely blue decoration on the right sold for $27. Both were in excellent condition. Of these three, the ivory and light blue ring boxes on the left and center would be considered “celluloid,” while the slightly newer white box on the right would be more correctly called “plastic.” They sold for $22.99, $21.99, and $18.99, respectively. Only one presentation box that I’ve listed on Etsy has failed to sell, this celluloid watch presentation box. I blame it on the fact that it is specifically a watch box and contains the Hamilton brand name on the lid. Nonetheless, I think it’s quite handsome and it wasn’t for lack of trying that it didn’t sell. I reduced the price from $34.99 down to $22.99, but no sale. Not surprisingly, this pretty pink plastic double ring presentation box sold quickly for the original asking price of $34.99.
Vintage Cardboard Jewelry Presentation BoxesNow-a-days we expect to get cardboard jewelry gift boxes when we purchase costume jewelry. Higher ticket items often come in higher quality vinyl boxes, while really high-end pieces may be housed in handsome leather cases. While modern examples with couture names, like Tiffany, hold value, as would leather examples, I wouldn’t recommend hanging onto your “average” cardboard gift boxes. Newer than the velvet example above, this cardboard Coro box is likely worth about $10 and will be available soon in my Etsy shop. This large (9″ x 6″) cardboard and satin necklace presentation box, marked “WL” on the lid, sold for $18.99 on Etsy in June 2020. “WL” stands for Walter Lampl, a quality NYC jeweler, working from the 1920’s onward. The gold seal on the upper left corner of the lid reads “Castiglione Gem Jewelers, Gloversville, NY”. This cardboard and pink satin box, marked “Pearls by Trifari,” has a few condition issues–a small tear along with the fact that the lid closes over the bottom “lip.” Nonetheless, it will have strong appeal to a Trifari lover, who I hope will pay $15-20 for it on Etsy as soon as I list it. Despite its plainness and obvious condition issues, I suspected this antique Tiffany box would sell for good money, which it did: $27 in fact. This modern example of a Tiffany box, in its iconic aqua blue would likely sell for about $10 if in better condition.
Vintage Fabric Presentation BoxesThis green fabric-covered necklace box, while not as desirable as some others, nonetheless sold for $9.99 on Etsy in May 2020. The tag reads 12K gold filled. This tapestry and velvet presentation box had slits cut into the satin interior that caused me to keep the price low. It sold on Etsy for $14.99 in May 2019. It’s marked Dixelle and from what I gather, the company produced high quality costume jewelry in Rhode Island during the 50’s and 60’s. It may still be in business.
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I can’t believe these are selling so well! You’ve shared a wealth of information! I have several of these stuck around and will be pulling them out today. I have a booth and can’t wait to see how they sell! Thanks for all the wonderful information and inspiration!
Glad I could help Cecilia–can’t wait to hear how they do in your booth!
I will be looking at my boxes with a new set of eyes! A year ago I saw someone at an estate sale carrying around a load of presentation boxes and couldn’t imagine what they wanted them for. Now I know !! Diana, do you find your information about the jewelry companies marked on the boxes by doing research online ? Sometimes it takes forever to find something on a particular company, if I find it at all.
HI Patty! So glad I could teach you something new 🙂 I do find most of my info online vyr I also have a couple of jewelry guides that help as well.
I shudder to think of how many of these little boxes that I have tossed throughout my lifetime. Who knew?? And what in the world do the buyers want them for? Life is full of surprises – thank you for the education!
I know! I fortunately found out several years ago from my girlfriend who got me into the business, but I had no idea before that. Most buyers use them to either display jewelry or to give jewelry as a gift 🙂
I ‘want’ the decorative plastic type as a stand alone collection. Love the colored ones.
Can pictures be sent to you of boxes. I have several, not terribly old, that I would like to sell.
Hi Susan! If you’d like to learn more about your boxes, the best thing to do is join my Facebook group (Your Vintage Headquarters) and post photos their. It’s filled with kind, vintage-loving people who will be happy to help you out 🙂
I am new to your blog. I love the info you share, and I love the FB page. This was a great article on presentation boxes. I have a few from my Mom and myself. I love vintage and antiques. You are a wonderful source. So glad I found your blog.
Welcome aboard Karen! So glad to have you here, and I’m pleased to hear that you’re enjoying the content. Stay in touch 🙂
Hello I really appreciated your article it taught me a lot. I bought a presentation box at a thrift store in near perfect condition. After getting home I researched it and found it to be at least 140 years old. I want to sell it but can’t really get a good idea of how much its worth. Have you ever had one this old?
Hi Aimee! What an exciting find. Feel free to join my Facebook group (Your Vintage Headquarters) and post some photos. The group has 1000’s of members and we should be able to help you out 🙂
My wife and I are collecting old UK jewelry ring boxes, how do get in contact with you?
You can email me at email@example.com 🙂
Great read thank you. I wonder if l could sell some of my ceramic boxes as gift boxes. I have such lovely ones . You have given lots of lovely ideas.
Glad you enjoyed the post Maddy 🙂 It’s worth giving your ceramic boxes a try — best of luck!
I enjoyed this article. I have a small collection of plastic ring boxes. I’m searching for information on the manufacturers of them. I have information on Dennison Mfg., a little on Warner. Do you know who is SUC. It is on the back of a couple of mine. Thanks Diana
I’m so glad you enjoyed it Diana 🙂 Unfortunately I’m not familiar with those initials. Perhaps another reader will have more info and leave a comment-
Hi Diana, I recently came across a celluloid ring box that I am sure is vintage, but I cannot find an exact match online. I find the same shape, but mine is another color. I don’t know how to value it. It’s from Dennison USA and is like a little casket. I find others online that are cream colored with gold embellishment. Mine is all gold (except the underside) with cream interior. I am trying to figure out whether that changes the value or whether it would be valued in line with the cream ones. Any suggestions?
Hi Michelle! My guess is that it may be rare and so I’d start with a higher price 🙂