A jewelry appraisal is an official document with photographs that describes a piece of jewelry, assesses its quality, assigns a dollar value to it, and serves as a record of ownership. The appraisal’s dollar value is an estimate of how much it would cost to replace this item.
But how do jewelry appraisals work, how much do they cost, and how do you know if you need one? Get these and more questions on jewelry appraisals answered below, including who you can trust to appraise your jewelry, and how it’s used to insure your pieces.
Why & When Jewelry Should Be Appraised
Jewelry appraisals are one of those tasks that we think we don’t need to do, or maybe we intend to eventually, but keep putting it off. Particularly if you bought the jewelry yourself, then you know the cost, and have the receipt. Why do you need an appraisal to determine the value?
For one thing, the appraised value of jewelry differs from the retail value. For another, an appraisal backs up the fact that you own the jewelry, in case it’s ever stolen and then later recovered. And, if you get your jewelry appraised every few years, you’ll have an up-to-date value to make sure you’re fully covered as costs of precious metals, diamonds and gemstones fluctuate.
If you are intending to sell your jewelry, if you have recently purchased or been gifted new jewelry, and/or if you’re looking to get your jewelry insured, are all good reasons to have it appraised.
Getting your jewelry appraised is often the first step of getting it insured (more on insurance in a later section). However, the proof of ownership alone is reason to get jewelry appraised, even if you aren’t planning on getting it insured.
Save yourself hassle later and have a current appraisal value of your jewelry ready in case the unexpected happens.
Types of Jewelry Appraisals
There are three main types of appraisals to know about:
Retail Replacement Value
The retail replacement value gives the owner an idea of what it would cost to replace the jewelry in the event that something happened to it. This number will be higher than the resale value of the jewelry due to insurance premiums, market inflation, and other factors.
This is the most common type of appraisal, and it’s the highest value of the three types. It’s intended to cover the total price of the jewelry in case of a loss for a five-year timespan.
Fair Market Value
The fair market value appraisal is an estimate of what you would receive if you sold your jewelry. This is best for someone who wishes to sell the item to a buyer who is outside of the jewelry industry – a “willing buyer.”
This type of appraisal would be used if you had an item you wanted to sell to a friend, relative, or someone you know personally, or if you’re using a third party like Facebook Marketplace or eBay.
The liquidation value appraisal is the lowest of the three types and gives the owner a feel for the true cash liquidation value of the item. This type of appraisal is best for selling to the jewelry industry, and will typically result in the quickest sale with cash up front.
If you’re dealing with jewelry you need to sell quickly because you want a quick and easy sale or you’re dealing with a divorce or estate liquidation, this would be the best appraisal option
All three types of appraisals give the same detailed specifications of the jewelry items being appraised.
Difference Between Jewelry Appraisal Value & Resale Value
The resale value is typically lower than the retail replacement value. Remember, the retail replacement value is assigned through the appraisal with the intention of replacing the jewelry with another one of similar style and quality, not to sell preowned jewelry.
The resale value is affected by the current economic value of the item and other market conditions. Most experts in the industry recommend having jewelry appraised every two to three years, and the longer you wait to do so, the more the cost of replacing the jewelry will increase.
The appraised value could be described as the maximum worth of the item, and it does not provide the same security or carry the same weight as the resale value, which is why it’s required by insurance companies.
How an Appraisal Works & Who to Trust
The process of appraising a piece of jewelry includes examining the piece, researching the current market value of similar pieces, determining authenticity, and writing up the official document. The purpose of the appraisal should also be specified, as this affects whether you’re receiving the cash value, replacement value, or agreed value of the jewelry.
The examination of the jewelry takes into consideration the weight, a measurement of each component, color grade if it’s a gemstone, relative rarity, markings, materials, and other factors. Note that diamond grading is in its own class of jewelry evaluation. Diamond grading, separate from an appraisal, should factor in the “four Cs:” cut, color, clarity, and carat; developed by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America)
When it comes to who to trust for appraisals, we recommend using an independent appraiser since there is the possibility of a conflict of interest resulting in an inflated value on the appraisal.
Two reputable organizations, the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers and the American Society of Appraisers, list appraisers on their websites that you can browse through. Any appraiser you choose should have a Graduate Gemologist (GG) title from the Gemological Institute of America.
We personally recommend Joyce Panitch, who works out of the Alpha Gem Lab in Albany. You can book an appointment with Joyce through our website here. If you have a large amount of jewelry, you can also schedule a call with Evan or Dennis here at deJonghe Original Jewelry who can sort through the jewelry, test it, and give recommendations on the jewelry worth appraising at an hourly rate.
How Much an Appraisal Will Cost
The first thing to know about paying for a jewelry appraisal is that fees should never be based on a percentage of the value of the piece. Charging for an appraisal in this way is considered unethical because of the potential impulse to inflate the value to receive a higher fee.
Generally, you can expect to pay either by the hour or a flat fee. If you happen to be working with an experienced appraiser with additional certifications beyond the GG, you might expect to pay more. If your piece is especially large or complex, and will therefore require more time to investigate, that can raise the price as well.
As of April, 2023 our appraisals start at $150 for the first item appraised and $100 for each additional item.
Why & How to Get Jewelry Insured
If you have jewelry that is significant to you in any way, or would be costly to replace, you’ll want to get it insured. When you buy new jewelry is a great time to get it appraised and insured, but this can be done with existing or older jewelry too.
Jewelry insurance typically covers the piece in the event of theft, loss, or disappearance. Insurance agencies almost always require an appraisal of the jewelry before insuring it. They typically work with their own jewelry services to determine policy plans, in addition to the appraised value you provide from a professional appraiser.
In the event of a claim, the insurance company may require you to use their jewelry services to repair or replace an item, so just keep in mind you may not be able to use your own jeweler for those services.
There are a few different ways to go about insuring your jewelry:
Homeowners or Renters Insurance
A homeowners or renters insurance policy will typically cover jewelry repairs or replacements that fall under what’s covered by the plan, such as theft. But this insurance is typically limited, and up to a certain dollar amount. Beyond that limit you’ll need to get a separate insurance rider.
Sometimes jewelry isn’t covered at all by homeowners or renters insurance unless requested, and then your premium may be adjusted accordingly when it’s added. However, keep in mind that many insurance providers do offer discounts to those who purchase more than one policy.
Therefore, if you have your homeowners insurance, auto insurance, etc., under the same provider, it may be worth talking to your agent to find out if insuring your jewelry through them is a cost-effective and viable option for you.
Stand-Alone Jewelry Insurance Policy
If you know your piece exceeds the homeowners insurance limit, or you want to avoid your premium going up, you will want to consider a stand-alone jewelry insurance policy. This type of insurance is purchased from a company that specifically focuses on insuring jewelry.
Jewelry Insurance Floater
A floater is able to cover jewelry that exceeds the limits of your homeowners policy without needing to purchase stand-alone insurance. A floater itemizes each jewelry piece and specifies what will not be covered, such as loss by flood.
A floater usually covers the item in the event of theft, accidental loss, or disappearance. A stand-alone jewelry policy will cover these events as well, but can go further to also cover incidents like a chip in a stone.
We personally recommend Jewelers Mutual for jewelry insurance for their transparent policies, premiums, and easy claim processes. This reputable company has been in business since 1913 and was founded by jewelry professionals. Many of their employees are Graduate Gemologists.
Your Jewelry Is Appraised & Insured – Now What?
Once your jewelry has been appraised and an insurance policy is in place, make sure to keep all your receipts, the appraisal paperwork, and photos of the item in a safe place.
Then, wear your jewelry with pride and confidence, knowing that you have secured this item that carries such monetary and sentimental value to you.