There are various occasions in life when you might possess valuable jewelry, ranging from purchasing a diamond engagement ring to inheriting jewelry from loved ones. When this happens, one of your priorities should be to determine the proper value of the jewelry by getting an appraisal.
A jewelry appraisal is an official statement produced by a certified and credible appraiser that documents the value of your jewelry. This is often done for the purposes of insurance, personal knowledge, estate planning, tax, or future retail.
Appraisal are very important for insurance purposes, since the amount you pay for your insurance (i.e the “premium”), and the eventual payout in the event of a claim, is typically tied to the appraised amount. On the one hand, if your piece’s value is overinflated, you could be spending more than necessary to insure your jewelry. Conversely, if you are underinsuring your jewelry, you may not be able to recover the full cost of it in the event of a claim on your insurance.
Luckily, getting a jewelry appraisal is a relatively easy process.
When you purchase jewelry, you can usually get an appraisal for your piece from the same jeweler. In fact, many jewelers have appraisal documents pre-prepared for their jewelry and you will often see these attached to the item description or photos if you are buying the jewelry online.
If you’ve had the jewelry for some time or your purchase did not come with an appraisal, you will want to find a reputable and certified appraiser. It’s good to start by asking your friends, the local community or any local jewelers. The most important factor when seeking an accurate, reputable appraisal is the credentials of the appraiser. Check American Gem Society, the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers or Gemological Institute of America for a list of qualified appraisers in your local area. You can also ask any appraisals you find for their credentials.
It is important to remember that jewelry should be inspected and verifised in-person for a legitimate appraisal. If you decide to look for an appraiser online, make sure they have relevant training and experience and check the resources above to ensure they are properly qualified.
An appraisal will also look different depending on what type of jewelry is being appraised. A gemologist appraiser from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is recommended for any precious or semi-precious gems. For antique jewelry, you might consider auction houses, such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s, or find a specialized antique jewelry appraiser on the Better Business Bureau.
Your appraisal should contain the following information:
You should also ensure that the jeweler or appraiser uses official business letterhead for the appraisal and signs the document.
Jewelry appraisals are not the same thing as jewelry grading. As explained above, a jewelry appraisal document provides an estimate of the value of a specific piece of jewelry based on factors such as market conditions and jewelry quality. A jewelry grading system is specific to diamonds and gemstone and is an in-depth assessment of its attributes. Grading reports do not assign a monetary value to the item.
There are two industry grading standards that are generally accepted – the Gemological Institutes of America (GIA) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI). A certified professional will measure the diamond or gemstone and determine the carat, cut, color, and clarity. Additional information about the brand, grade, and weight of any diamonds, gemstones, or other precious metals is provided in a certified lab report called a GIA report or IGI report.
Getting an appraisal is straightforward. Here’s what you should keep in mind as you go about the process of getting an appraisal.
A full appraisal is likely to cost $50 to $150 per hour, depending on the size and complexity of the jewelry. Some jewelers will include appraisal services for free, especially if the item is a new purcahse. If someone is quoting the price of an appraisal based on the items value, this is a big red flag as appraisal prices should never be based on a percentage of the pieces value.
The price you pay for an appraisal includes the work needed to inspect the item, gather facts about the piece, conduct market research to compare to similar pieces and, finally, write the appraisal. Therefore, the price will vary depending on the complexity of the piece. A simple wedding band will always cost less than a ornate engagement ring or a rare heirloom. This is because it will take more time to accurately appraise an item with more components or one with rare features.
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