A jewelry appraisal is an estimated market value (retail value) of your jewelry.
Appraisals should not be confused with certificates.
Appraisals lists a value on the entire item, where certificates are meant to certify a particular diamond or gemstone and almost never puts a value on them.
(Some certificate companies do put a value on the item, but it’s still not the same thing.)
Appraisals are used for very important reasons:
Let’s jump right in…
1) To obtain insurance:
Insurance companies need jewelry appraisals so they can insure the items. Each item insured will need its own separate appraisal. These appraisals will be used for replacing your jewelry in the event that it is ever stolen, lost or damaged. Insurance companies normally will not replace your jewelry without an appraisal.
2) To confirm value:
People appraise their engagement rings, wedding sets and solitaires (and every other type of jewelry) just to make sure the items are worth what they said they are (a lot of times they appraise for double what you paid for them). Appraisals help confirm that the merchandise is valued at what it should be and that the items are what they are supposed to be (i.e. genuine diamond, SI1 clarity, G color, 14kt gold…)
A good detailed description (hopefully with pictures) are priceless for making a positive identification for your items if they are stolen or lost. Police and detectives can use these descriptions to help locate (like check inscription numbers at the local pawn shop) and identify the pieces as well. In these circumstances, any amount of information is vital and appreciated. It’s like a fingerprint that may help get your items back.
When someone passes away, their estate gets divided up and distributed to the appropriate individuals. Executors of the estate will bring the valuables (sometimes 50 or more pieces) and collections in so that a dollar amount can be placed on the items and the estate can be worked out. This process can take days or even weeks to accomplish (a normal turnaround time for appraisals is a day or two). Estate appraisals are not easy, cheap or quick.
She wants half!
But so does he.
All their belongings will need to be assessed. If that $10,000 anniversary ring is to be split up… It will need to be appraised first.
Appraisals can get long and detailed. A lot of information is necessary to arrive at an estimated worth.
- Gemstone identification
- Carat weight (estimated)
- Cutting style
- Shape of stones
- Gram weight (or pennyweight – DWT)
- Detailed setting description
- Measurements of stones & mounting
- Metal identification
- Manufacturer stamps
- Condition (damaged, cracked, broken)
What’s the carat weight?
Keep in mind that all diamonds and gemstones that are mounted in settings will be given an estimated carat weight. Exact carat weights cannot be given unless the stones are removed from the mounting and weighed one by one on a scale. Estimated carat weights are calculated from a gemstone’s measurements like width x height x depth)
Other items that appraisals could have are:
- Plot – Detailed diagram of the inclusions in your stone; which is great for verifying clarity.
- Picture – Close-up image (see image above) of the item appraised. A picture is worth a thousand words.
- And of course, all appraisals will have the estimated market value of the jewelry.
Cleaning and inspecting:
The appraiser should also clean your merchandise well before they actually appraise it. This way dirt and debris doesn’t hinder the grading. And lastly, the appraiser must sign and date the appraisal.
Do note that an appraisal should also be accompanied with a sheet describing their grading methods, any instruments used and any tests performed on the jewelry that helped them arrive at the valued price.
And also, if there is a certificate that goes along with your diamond, the diamond report number and inscription number (if any) should be listed on the appraisal as well, along with a copy of the certificate attached to the appraisal so it can all be turned into the insurance company (make sure you keep the original certificate papers).
So yes, appraisals are extremely necessary.
They help identify your jewelry and may even keep you from getting ripped off (say the gemstone is synthetic versus genuine, or that a diamond is laser-drilled and wasn’t disclosed at the time of purchase).
The cost of getting your jewelry appraised will vary greatly depending on who does it (are they GIA certified?), how intricate your pieces are, how many pieces you need to have appraised, and how fast you need them done.
General prices can be anywhere from $20 – $200 or more. I’d strongly suggest shopping around and finding an appraiser that you feel comfortable with. After all, you are going to be leaving your merchandise with them.
Whether it be an independent appraiser or a jewelry store appraisal (usually jewelry stores will appraise your items for free if you bought the pieces from them), just make sure you get it done. Don’t put it off. You never know what the future holds…
And If you think the item is only worth a couple of bucks, then don’t bother getting it appraised. I usually recommend getting a piece appraised only if it’s over $200. Jewelers can help you sort through the items and tell you whether or not they think it’s worth getting appraised.
How often should you get it appraised?
I would also advise you to get your jewelry and appraisals updated every 7 years or so. Inflation goes up and jewelry values should too (also keep in mind that when the appraisal value goes up, so does your insurance).
But in the end it’s worth it. Especially if you ever need to use it.
Jewelry appraisals are worth the time, money and hassle… And of course, they’re also worth their weight in gold.
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