Jewelry, the Perfect Gift for Your Wedding Party

3 Things You Should Know Before Ordering A Jewelry Appraisal

If you don't know the current dollar value of your wedding ring, diamond brooch, or gold necklace, you're overdue for a jewelry appraisal. The inspections and formal estimates, when performed and officially recorded by qualified experts, can give you both critical information information and a better understanding of your estate's worth. Here are three things you should sort out before handing your jewels over for an appraisal.

1. The Purpose of Your Appraisal

Why are you having your piece of jewelry appraised? There are several valid reasons to determine what your valuables are worth, and your primary motivator may influence certain nuances of the process. A few of these reasons include:

  • Insurance - This is probably the most common and urgent reason for having jewelry appraised. If you lose your jewelry to theft, property damage, or natural disaster, your property insurance company may be able to reimburse you for the normal retail value of the jewels (minus your deductible). 
  • Estate planning and taxation - You can't divide your estate among your loved ones equally unless you know the cash value of your various assets, including your jewelry. The appraisal figure may also help raise the estate's tax base, which in turns will lower your children's liability to the IRS when they inherit these assets.
  • Division of property - If you plan on pursuing a divorce, the value of your jewelry will be an important point in the division of property between you and your spouse. 

If your primary motivation for the appraisal is insurance-related, then it's especially important to have the appraiser inspect your jewels in person. That's because you may need the appraiser to testify as witness on your behalf that these jewels were real and in your possession. If you're getting the appraisal to help you calculate your total estate for whatever reason, then you need to make sure you get the jewelry re-appraised every other year, since the value of various precious metals and gemstones can bob up and down with changing times. The 

2. How to Identify a Qualified Appraiser

Jewelry appraisal is a sophisticated endeavor requiring a keen eye and a great deal of knowledge. Just as you might encounter a wide range of qualification among legal or medical practitioners, you'll find that not all jewelry appraisers are created equal. The first thing you want to do is identify your prospective appraiser's credentials. The jewelry industry recognizes several different official levels of expertise. A Registered Jeweler (RJ), for instance, may know a lot about gemstone and diamond grading, and a Certified Gemologist (CG) even more, but these professionals aren't specifically trained in appraisal.

There are two levels of certification that pertain specifically to appraisal expertise, and these are the professionals you should seek out. A Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CGA) may perform the usual tasks as an employee of a jewelry dealer or jewelry repair shop, but also has special training in the fine art of putting a monetary value on diamonds and gemstones. An Independent Certified Gemologist Appraiser (ICGA) has the same skills as a CGA plus additional training in personal property appraisal. as the title suggests, this professional does not make jewelry transactions and is not affiliated with a jeweler, instead focusing exclusively on appraisals.

3. How You'll Be Charged

Always ask how a gemologist charges for a typical jewelry appraisal before you proceed. The most common ways you can expect to be charged for a jewelry appraisal are:

  • By the hour
  • By the number of pieces evaluated (flat fee)

In either case, the fee includes not only the appraisal itself but also the time and effort that goes into performing any necessary research and filling out an official report for your insurer or other inquiring agency. You also also expect to pay a higher or lower rate depending on the experience level of the appraiser. One thing you should not expect is to pay a percentage of whatever the jewelry is estimated to be worth. There are obvious ethical issues with such an arrangement, since it could encourage inflated estimates. If your appraiser insists on this payment method, go find another one who doesn't!

If you know how to apply a jewelry appraisal to your various needs, choose the right appraiser, and insist on the proper payment determination, you're much more likely to get an accurate appraisal at a reasonable price. Good luck!