Do you have a box full of jewelry that you no longer want? Possibly your great-aunt left you some pieces that just don’t happen to suit your taste, or maybe you’re seeking coverage for treasures you want to protect. Regardless of the reason, you want to know what your jewelry is worth. What you need is a jewelry appraisal, but before you make a trip to the corner jeweler, here are some things you need to know.
1. Not everyone is qualified to be an appraiser. Current laws do not insist that they be licensed. There are, however, titles, and acquiring one will necessitate a certain amount of training. In most things experience can separate skill level. Combining superior training with experience is the ideal.
2. Many quality appraisers have received their training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Look for designation of Graduate Gemologist, GG, or Graduate Diamonds from the Gemological Institute of America as an indication of superior training.
3. Beware of appraisers who claim to be GIA-certified. Although it does provide graduate gemologist training, the Gemological Institute of America does not offer courses in jewelry appraisal nor does it certify its graduates.
4. In addition to providing you with your jewelry’s final value, a good appraiser will explain the grading system he or she has used in language that you can easily understand.
5. Your appraisal report should explicitly describe the uses to which it can be put. For example, an appraisal done for insurance reasons must only be used for that purpose.
In appraising any single piece of jewelry, the appraiser will consider:
- Its condition.
- The quality and characteristics of its gemstones.
- The style and technique of its settings.
- The metal of which it is made.
Following a detailed inspection, the appraiser should give you in writing his or her considered opinion of the value of each piece along with its clear description and a detailed explanation of the steps that were followed in conducting the appraisal. In addition to serving as a proof of worth, the documentation will serve to identify each piece in the event of its loss.
Retail Replacement Versus Fair Market Value
Most jewelry appraisals are done for one reason only: to arrive at a ballpark figure of what the piece would cost to replace. This is normally done for insurance purposes, and perhaps for this reason alone, the value shown in a retail replacement report will often exceed the amount that the piece might bring in an actual sales transaction. Some jewelry retailers will use these figures in what many consider to be an abusive attempt to artificially inflate the article’s true value in the hopes of reaping a higher selling price.
Your jewelry’s fair market value is another concept that may not be entirely meaningful. Some believe it to relate to the price for which they would be able to sell a piece while others take it to mean the price for which they could purchase it. There may be times at which neither will be the case.
Misconceptions Concerning Your Jewelry Appraisal
Some people believe that submitting a sales receipt will alleviate the need for an expert’s written assessment. While the receipt will serve as proof of what you paid for the item, most insurers will insist upon a more detailed description. Even if a provider does agree to offer a policy without having seen an appraisal, you may still need to produce one when and if you should need to submit a claim.
It is also important to realize that while a diamond may well be forever, its appraisal will only be good for so long. Jewelry prices can fluctuate widely from one year to the next, and the estimate that served the purpose a decade ago could mean little to nothing today.
In the final analysis, the more valuable you believe a piece of jewelry to be, the more critical it is not only to get it appraised but also to ensure that the person who does evaluate it has the credentials and the expertise to get the job done right.