To properly insure your home’s contents (furniture, silver, jewelry, etc.), you need to know their current value—and the best person around to figure that out is Judith Martin, owner of the west suburban antiques shop the Perfect Thing. “She has been the driving force behind making the International Society of Appraisers the largest and best appraisal organization,” says fellow appraiser Diana Williams. Martin won’t give examples of her pricing, saying it depends on the project.

How to: Unearth a treasure at a flea market

"Get there early, and bring a flashlight and a loupe for magnification. To identify real antique furniture, look for things like horizontal rather than vertical boards on the back, hand-planed surfaces rather than machined ones, good dovetailed joints, and original finishes. Poor repairs, replaced parts, and refinishing hurt a piece’s value, so watch out for those. Condition is everything." —Judith Martin, owner of the Perfect Thing