When to Sell That Family Heirloom: 4 Methods

Inherited family heirlooms have an odd place in our hearts and homes. Some of them become cherished treasures, items that you wear or display prominently. But others just sit, sometimes hidden away in drawers or lost in dusty attics. Still, these unloved items can carry a lot of sentimental value. We have them, but we don’t want them, but we don’t want to sell them, so we keep them, but we don’t want them…etc. I’m all for the preservation of cherished memories, but I’m also for keeping a tidy house, free from stuff I don’t need, want, or use. At this point in my life, I’m ready to trim the fat. Here are 4 methods I use to determine that it’s time to sell an heirloom or inherited family item.

family heirloom

1) Do I Use it? “Use” includes display. If I am talking about the antique silver serving dish that I inherited from my grandmother, I never actually use it for serving or entertaining. But I do display the thing, and it’s a source of beauty as well as a conversation piece. That collection of silver I got from my Mom, however, I neither use nor display. I happily sold it to the silver man, and I’ve never missed it.

2) Is it Money, or Similar? There are some items that are almost just placeholders for cash anyway. These I sell without worrying too much about it. Here, I’m talking about rare coins, gold, silver, and precious stones that are not set in jewelry. You can sell diamonds in Los Angeles very easily, and it’s never difficult to find a national online buyer. For these decisions, I let practicality guide me. Is the price of gold high right now? Is it likely to appreciate more than other investments I could allocate the money I received selling it? If I could get good money for an item like this and get a better return out of that cash somewhere else, I almost always sell.

3) Does it Have Strong Sentimental Value and Memory Association? When my father died, I took a lot of his stuff home. But soon, I had too many things. Each one of them made me feel a mix of emotions, but I couldn’t keep them all. So I selected the items that had the biggest associated memories (photographs, his personal books) and kept those. The valuable items simply didn’t resonate as strongly, so I sold them and have been happy with that decision.

4) Will I Really Miss it? The moment of letting go can be tough, but I find that I almost never think about the item in question ever again. Have an honest conversation with yourself about how much you actually need the heirloom you’re thinking about. If it’s not something that’s adding value to your life, more than the value that it contribute if you were to sell it, than don’t feel bad letting it go.

It’s hard to part with cherished heirlooms. But I find that most of my items aren’t really cherished. The ones that I really love and value I will never let go, but these are a minority. By cleaning out my space, I find I like the things I kept even more, and I was able to make some money on the things I didn’t need.