First of all, what is a jewelry appraisal and why should it matter to you? In short, an appraisal is a document that specifies the quality, description and an estimated valuation of the jewelry item you have.
For example, the appraisal document for a diamond ring would list the quality of the diamond (4Cs), the type of metal used for the setting and other miscellaneous details like the condition of the piece.
When preparing the document, the appraiser would also need to provide a valuation of how much it is worth, include details like photographs and also a detailed explanation of how the appraisal was performed.
In this article, you will find out the different uses of a jewelry appraisal document and whether you really need one or not. I’m also going to reveal useful tips you should know before visiting the appraiser and the questions you should ask.
Let’s dive in…
I often receive emails from readers who are seeking advice on getting their jewelry appraised. Sometimes, they are looking for validation for a jewelry purchase they recently made. But in most cases, there really isn’t a need to get a jewelry item appraised.
Here are 4 reasons when an independent jewelry appraisal may come in handy for you:
#1 – Identification and evaluation of quality: Whether you inherited a piece of jewelry with an unknown gemstone or had just purchased a diamond engagement ring, you can get a jewelry appraiser to assess the material, quality, workmanship or even the condition of the jewelry.
Basically, if you need a peace of mind (most people are worried of diamond swapping!) or want a second opinion on a new acquisition, an independent appraiser can provide you with an unbiased assessment of the jewelry you have.
#2 – Valuation of a piece of jewelry: When it comes to getting a valuation for a jewelry item, different people do it for different purposes. For example, an appraisal value would be useful when you want to sell the item, settling an estate or even distributing property in a divorce.
#3 – To determine if you paid a fair price: For people who want a peace of mind on a purchase, you can find out whether you paid a fair price from a professional appraiser that doesn’t sell jewelry. Note the emphasis on finding an independent appraiser because competing jewelers may purposely ding and undervalue the merchandise due to conflicts of interest.
#4 – Getting documentation for jewelry insurance: If you plan to purchase an insurance policy for your jewelry, you will need to submit the relevant appraisal documentation to your insurer. The jewelry appraiser could also be listed as a witness to the existence of the jewelry at a certain point in time and this can be useful for insurance claims.
Do note that the cost of diamonds and precious metals may rise over time. Because of this, you may want to have your ring appraised every 5 years so that the current value of your jewelry is correctly reflected.
Being in the trade, people often ask me for recommendations on where they can find reliable and affordable appraisal services near them.
Personally, I cannot recommend individual appraisers because I may not know enough about the type of jewelry you are getting appraised nor the location you are based in. For example, if you are based in Finland or in an obscure part of the USA, I honestly don’t know the local scene well enough to make a recommendation in good faith.
However, you can use national appraisal associations and networks to help you find a professional appraiser near you. Here’s a handy list you can refer to:
Getting an appraisal performed on your jewelry will require effort and money on your part. But did you know that highly reputable vendors like Blue Nile and James Allen will provide you with an official appraisal document along for your purchase?
This means there’s no need to undergo the hassle of getting it appraised and it prevents the unnecessary stress of hunting down a reliable appraiser. Here’s what an appraisal document from James Allen looks like…
This appraisal document would cost you at least $100 but James Allen provides it for free!
Whether you just inherited an antique diamond ring from your grandmother or need to sell your jewelry for financial reasons, here are some tips to help you prepare for a visit to the independent appraiser.
Besides asking the super obvious stuff like matching the diamond to the grading report, here are some other questions you might want to ask the appraiser.
Usually, the appraiser won’t ask to see documents like your grading report before he/she commences to examine your jewelry. Let him/her do their work first before you show it to them for verification against their findings.
For mounted diamonds, the appraiser’s findings on the color, clarity or carat weight might have discrepancies against the GIA/AGS lab report you have in hand. There could be many reasons for this.
For example, a clarity grade making inclusion could be hidden from view under the prongs and results in an assessment of a significantly higher clarity grade compared to the grading report you have. Sometimes, the diamond’s measurements might deviate from the records you have as the setting can impair proper usage of measurement tools.
In such cases, you need to clarify them with your appraiser and see what he/she says.
Diamonds can also pick up surrounding colors easily. For mounted stones, this can cause inaccuracies as the diamond’s body color may be skewed by the metal mounting. In yellow gold settings, the diamond would take on a yellow tinge and this could hamper with estimations made by the appraiser
At the end of the day, it is important to find a good appraiser you can trust. You want someone who will share his findings with you truthfully and not someone who is clouded by their own interests in selling you their inventory.
I hope this helps to clarify the questions on visiting an appraiser and getting a peace of mind on your purchase. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.