Jewelry Appraisal 101: What to Ask Before Your Appointment

Written by: Sue Fritz | | Insuring Your Jewelry

Jewelry appraisal

Welcome to Lavalier’s Jewelry Appraisal 101 tutorial, where you’ll find everything you need to know about the jewelry appraisal process. Previously, we helped you identify items you should insure, including those that are commonly overlooked. Now that it’s time to ensure those pieces, you’ll need an appraisal. If you’re having trouble finding a reputable jewelry appraiser, these organizations can help you find someone in your area. Now let’s look at the information you need and the questions you’ll want to ask when having your engagement ring, wedding band, or jewelry of any kind appraised.

How much does jewelry appraisal cost?

Always try to find an appraiser whose fee will not be based on the final value of the jewelry, which is generally considered unethical. It’s normal, however, for appraisers to set the price based on the size of the jewelry or gemstones. Prices for an appraisal can vary, but most tend to be between $50 and $150. There are more inexpensive appraisals available, but beware of insuring expensive jewelry with a cheap appraisal document. Also, watch out for appraisers who try to sell you any items as part of the appraisal process. The focus should be on the piece you’ve brought in to have appraised.

What information will the appraisal contain?

Professional appraisals should include a written statement describing all the characteristics of a piece in plain language, including weights, grades and measurements. Any unusual treatment should be listed, along with whether the gem is natural or synthetic. The maker, metal, and karatage of the mounting should be included as well. If there are any specific certification numbers – the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), for example, issues diamond and gemstone certification numbers – these should be clearly referenced on the appraisal form. Your name and address as well as the the name and signature of the appraiser should also be recorded. Make sure there is a clear photograph or image of your item. You want to have as much information and documentation about your jewelry as possible, so your insurer can provide you with an equivalent replacement if necessary. The more details you have, the more accurate a replacement or repair will be.

What grading system or scale is used in the jewelry appraisal process?

There should be a clearly stated, official description of any grading system or standardized scale used to evaluate your diamonds or gemstones. This should be in layman’s terms, without any technical jargon. If you’re confused, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification before paying.

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When you first purchase your jewelry, it should come with a free appraisal or document of valuation for insurance purposes. Look this over carefully to make sure that the details of the document match what your jeweler has told you about the item. Prices of precious metals and gemstones are constantly fluctuating, so you’ll want to get a new appraisal every few years. Appraisals aren’t just for insurance purposes, either; they give you a better idea of the current value of your jewelry, and may reveal some interesting facts that you hadn’t realized, particularly if you weren’t the original purchaser. Jewelry is an investment, and like other investments, the value changes over time. A jewelry appraisal will keep you informed and ensure that you have proper coverage.

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