Angie's List: Getting Your Jewelry Appraised

By Lauren Maloney

Published 02/07 2014 02:59PM

Updated 02/18 2014 10:33AM

Whether you're hoping for something sparkly this Valentine's Day or you're planning to give a little bling, that gift is an investment you'll want to protect.

Megan Wright spent nearly four days searching her home for her missing engagement and wedding rings.

"I was physically sick over this. I overturned everything in the house that I could think of looking for them," Megan Wright said before she finally found her rings in the closet.

"My four year old daughter had been in there playing dress up. Swiped my rings, probably tried them on herself and she left them in the toe of my shoe," Wright said.

Wright recently had her jewelry appraised, so she was prepared had her rings been gone for good.

If an item is lost, damaged, or stolen, an appraisal provides a detailed description of the piece.

"When you want to recreate the piece they'll be enough detail: the stones, the metal, the weight, the quality of the stones that you'll get back exactly what you had. If you have a vague appraisal then it's possible you'll end up with a ring, but it won't be the same quality or value you had originally," Jeweler Greg Bires said.

You'll also need an appraisal if you want your jewelry insured.

"Having your jewelry appraised can make sure you have it valued at the correct amount, especially with the fluctuation we've seen in gold prices. The pricing and value of your jewelry can and does change overtime so you want to be sure you've got it insured for the right amount. If it does end up lost or stolen you get the right return," Angie Hicks said.

"Because of the volatility of gold, especially, it's been very important that you have it checked every few years. Gold was three, four hundred dollars an ounce four or five years ago, now it's twelve-hundred dollars an ounce," Bires said.

Have your items appraised at least every three to four years.

Expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $65 dollars per item.

"It's very affordable and creates great piece of mind in the event that your rings end up in the bottom of your shoe," Wright said.

Choose your appraiser wisely. Check for certification by a group like the American Gem Society.

Appraisals shouldn't take much more than a day, so be wary if the appraiser wants to keep your jewelry much longer than that.

The appraisal process:

·         Bring in the item, not a picture, for the appraiser to examine.

·         Bring the appraiser copies of any sales receipts or other documentation you have about the items being appraised.

·         Tell the appraiser anything you know about the item’s origin or where it was purchased.

·         The appraiser will then take a few days to research the item’s history and the marketplace.

·         You should receive a written report describing the item itself, the reasons for its valuation, and which type of value was done, for example – replacement value, fair market value or market value.

How do you know what to appraise?

·         Costume jewelry/base metal/plated – not worth appraising

·         “Real” metal but not expensive – describe and photograph it for your records, but don’t appraise.

·         “Real” stones/metal that couldn’t easily afford to replace within 12 months – get an appraisal and get it insured.  If you’d have to save up to replace it, it’s worth the appraisal and insurance rider.

Angie’s List Tips: Hiring an appraiser

Appraising jewelry for resale or insurance can be a challenge. It's important to know whether a diamond or stone is real in order to get an accurate estimate of value. Some fakes are difficult to spot. Therefore, it's wise to have a professional appraise any jewelry of value.

·         Start by defining your objective: Do you want an appraisal done for insurance purposes? For estate purposes? To find out your piece’s fair market value?

·         Work with a jewelry appraiser who has been trained and certified:  Ask if the appraiser is certified by such organizations as the Gemological Institute of America and the American Gem Society. Pick someone who has been in the business for a while with a physical address.

·         Steer clear of an appraiser who charges a percentage of the appraised value:  Hourly fees or flat rates are acceptable. Expect to pay anywhere from 25 to 65 dollars per item. A good appraiser should review all items and establish a rate with the customer before beginning the process. Money saving tip: It can also more cost effective to bring in a number of pieces at once, rather than appraising them individually.

·         Appraisals should not take much more than a day, so be wary if the appraiser wants to keep your jewelry much longer than that. Most appraisers recommend making an appointment and will go over your items with you on-site. If you do leave your jewelry, request a receipt that itemizes and describes each piece.

Tips to manage your valuables:

  • Preserve your valuables. Have your items cleaned and checked annually.
  • Keep the item in their original state. Know that altering a piece may lower its value.
  • Consider getting your item re-appraised every three to five years. For items in highly volatile markets, its best to get them re-appraised annually.
  • Keep the descriptions of your jewelry in a location separate from the actual jewels. A good place is with your homeowner’s insurance policy. For jewelry handed down through the family, add a description of where the piece came from and keep it with your appraisal information so the next generation can know it’s significance.

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