Jewelry Appraisal: What You Need To Know

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There are many reasons to have jewelry appraised by a professional gemologist. You might need an appraisal to add that new engagement ring you just purchased to your homeowners insurance policy, or you might need to know the value of an inherited piece of jewelry either for insurance purposes or to sell. Whatever the reason, we at Gem Source are here to help. Jim Salyer, a registered gemologist (GIA), answers some of the most common questions he’s asked about the appraisal process.

What exactly is an appraisal?

A certified gemologist does an appraisal, and it is an authentication of the items overall quality and value. When jewelry appraisals are done, very thorough descriptions of each item’s metal and gem details are paramount. The appraised value for insurance means very little without a well written accurate gemological description.

How do I select a jewelry appraiser?

When you are looking for a jewelry appraisal, it should always be done by a gemologist with credentials from one of several schools in the world that teach identifying and grading of all gem varieties. Also, several years experience working in some part of the jewelry trade is expected.

What do you appraise?

At Gem Source, we appraise all items of genuine jewelry made with gold, platinum, and sometimes silver. We also appraise pieces that contain gem materials of all natures.

Why get an appraisal?

Insurance replacement value is the most likely reason for an appraisal; most policies require a written appraisal. We also evaluate items to aid in estate settlements, as well as just plain curiosity.

When should I have jewelry appraised?

I recommend any item that’s insured have a detailed, well-written appraisal. The evaluation should be reviewed every 3 years to make adjustments if needed in current replacement value. An appraisal is also useful when you are looking to sell a piece of jewelry and want to know it’s value.

How does an appraisal work?
 Do I need an appointment?

All appraisals are done onsite. No appointment needed. If four items or fewer we clean, inspect, and photograph your items while you wait. The appraisal is then prepared over the next few days.

What does an appraisal cost?

At Gem Source, it is $150 for each piece of jewelry. However, we do offer a free consultation before any appraisal, should we see an item that is not genuine, or of potential value too low to justify the expense of appraisal, we don’t charge for that inspection.

Why is it important to know the purpose of the appraisal?

Insurance replacement is by far the most common function of a jewelry appraisal. Other reasons people request an appraisal: trying to sell an item, settling an estate, or someone just purchased an item and want to confirm value/price.

Something to be aware of is the “on demand” price to replace an item after a loss is often higher than the items original price. We research prices constantly in order to ensure that we’re assessing “real-world” replacement values on every item we appraise. There is no benefit to having an excessively high “full retail” appraised value. The insurance company will review the item described rather than just looking at the insured amount.

A final note, sometimes buyers are “guaranteed” that a piece of jewelry would appraise for a certain amount above the price which they paid. This is a very big red flag, as most of those sellers aren’t well schooled in evaluation. Basically, it’s just a sales pitch to make the buyer think they are getting a deal.