Jewelry Appraisals

How much is your jewelry worth and who should tell you? The answer to that question could well be “plenty.” Just consider how the price of gold has skyrocketed over the last five years. Most experts recommend that you have your jewelry appraised at least every five years, and choosing the right professional to perform the appraisal is essential.

Do some research and choose your appraiser with care. You will want to consult someone certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or a jeweler with a sterling reputation earned through many years of experience. Your own reputable jeweler might not be a certified appraiser; in that case, he or she typically will only provide you with the value of the pieces you purchase at his or her jewelry store. And while your jeweler may not have an appraiser on staff, your jeweler may call in a certified appraiser who will evaluate your valuable piece or collection.

When asking a jeweler or appraiser to value your jewelry, be mindful of how you will be charged for the appraisal of individual pieces or a collection. Best practice requires that the cost be based on the number of carats of the stone or the hours it takes to appraise a collection.

For insurance purposes, you will want a replacement cost appraisal that differs from fair market value and estate appraisals. A replacement cost appraisal is a formal opinion of a jewelry item, offered by a certified gemologist, and it should verify authenticity, design, quality and monetary value of the item. Your appraisal should include:

  • A detailed description
  • Proportion and finish
  • Color grade—Diamond coloration is based on a scale of D (colorless) through Z (colored). Stones after the color grade of Z have their own intrinsic worth and value based on their intensity of color. Because colorless diamonds allow the most light to pass through, they are the most radiant and the most highly valued
  • Clarity grade—Almost all diamonds contain small traces of mineral crystals. These inclusions are not visible to the naked eye and require magnification for viewing. Diamonds with no inclusions are quite rare and extremely valuable. The diamond clarity scale ranges from F (F lawless) to IF (Internally Flawed)
  • Estimated replacement value

An Added Word of Caution

Beware of the term “clarity enhanced.” This means that the clarity of the stone is vastly improved to as much as two grades through the infusion of fractures with oils, resins and glass. Essentially to the naked eye, a stone’s fissures appear less, if not at all, visible. The process, which can potentially add weight, is typically used on rubies, emeralds and diamonds. Clarity-enhanced stones are less expensive than untreated stones.

The Takeaway

The seller must disclose upfront that the stone is clarity enhanced. These stones are often sold via outlets such as a home shopping network. Following purchase, it is advisable to ask your own jeweler to examine it.

Click here to learn more about appraisals.

To learn more about diamonds, colored stones and pearls, visit the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Next: Pearls & Delicate Jewelry Care