Appraisal FAQs

Why should I pay to have my jewelry professionally appraised?

Until about 1980, all jewelry appraisals were done at jewelry stores, and were either based on a particular store's asking price or, if the item was unfamiliar to the appraiser, what that person guessed their store might charge for it. Today, stores have mostly quit appraising jewelry because there is liability in failing to follow the methodologies and ethics of good appraisal practice. They continue to produce insurance documentation for the items they sell, but most of them have stopped calling these documents appraisals, but rather something like "estimates to replace." This approach is legitimate because it does not claim that these descriptions are objective, researched opinions of value.

My fees are commensurate with those charged by the best jewelry appraisers practicing around the country today. I recognize that the value of an excellent jewelry appraisal may be hard to care about for someone whose insurance company has just told them that, like it or not, they have to get an appraisal. It is a lot like insurance itself, a necessary evil, until the unfortunate time comes to use it. Then, an expert appraisal, performed to professional standards, will prove to be your best protection. This is by far the most common reason people need their jewelry appraised, but in any situation in which the value of jewelry is an issue, it is true that you will benefit by having a good appraisal. Many situations can be handled through oral consultation at much lower cost than written appraisal. In either case, I can serve. Please contact me for a free initial discussion of your situation.

How much do your appraisals cost? How long does it take?

My minimum charges are $90 for the first item, $70 for the second, and $50 for each additional. At least one photograph per item is required, at $15 per image. So is a clarity diagram of any diamond estimated to weigh 0.50 carat or more, unless it already has one (that I determine to be accurate) from a diamond grading laboratory. This cost is $45. Adding them up, an engagement ring appraisal usually starts at $165.

I quote these as minimum charges. Ultimately my fees are based primarily on the time it takes to do a competent and credible job. I will set my maximum charge in a given assignment before you make the decision to retain my services. Some factors that can make an assignment more or less time-consuming are: the number of items; their complexity or simplicity; and number of items. Also, the nature of the assignment (for instance, litigation and tax liability assignments are generally more time-consuming than insurance coverage), and rush assignments or those done outside my office.

Depending on my schedule, I can usually appraise a single item within two or three days. If you have a few pieces, I ask for more time, usually for a week or less. When I ask you to leave your jewelry, I will show you identifying characteristics under the microscope and show them to you again when I return your jewelry. If we determine that consultation fulfills your needs, the cost is $75 per half hour (with no written report). In consultations involving one or two items, the main questions can usually be answered within thirty minutes.  

When I hire you, what do I get?

My written jewelry reports include a comprehensive written description, giving metal content, style, method of construction, physical dimensions and weight, and condition. If possible and relevant, I will state who the manufacturer is and the item's approximate age. I always provide as many images as are necessary to achieve the appraisal's purpose. Clarity diagrams of any diamonds estimated to weigh 0.50 carat or more are performed (unless they already exist from a recognized diamond grading laboratory and are found to be accurate). Gemstones are measured and weights approximated through volumetric formulae, and graded according to established standards. The possibility or confirmed presence of gemstone treatments will be disclosed. A cover letter will explain the use to which the appraisal may be put, who may use it, and the steps I have taken for valuation in a specific market. Addenda will explain technical trade terms, including gemstone quality scales, and define valuation/market terms. I will hand over a bound original report and email you a PDF copy.

An important collateral benefit of my insurance appraisal practice is to tell you about any repair issues that should be addressed. Another is that I thoroughly clean your jewelry and will continue to do so for free, forever. I help you to keep your jewelry safe and beautiful!

How do you determine the value of my jewelry?

Basically I do this by comparing your jewelry to other items like it that have sold as recently as possible. Sources of this information may include sales receipts for the item itself, retail print advertisements and web sites, and auction results for similar pieces. I monitor wholesale prices and retail markups, often calling gemstone dealers and jewelry manufacturers for current pricing information, either wholesale or suggested retail. I attend industry trade shows. While it is not the only or even the major factor in determining value, I also consider the pricing patterns I see in my own work as a buyer and seller of new and used jewelry.

What are your credentials?

I am a Graduate Gemologist as designated by the Gemological Institute of America and a Fellow of the Gemmological Institute of Great Britain. I hold the title of Accredited Senior Appraiser from the American Society of Appraisers, as well as the Master Gemologist Appraiser® certification granted under its auspices. I am a Member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers and an Accredited Senior Gemologist from the Accredited Gemologists Association.

Anything else I should know?

My approach is highly personal. Sometimes we will discover that you don't need to pay for an appraisal to accomplish your goal. You might go back to where you bought your jewelry for adequate sales information to insure it. You might have items that are already covered under a general homeowners' policy. If you are thinking of selling an item, we might turn to consultation instead of an appraisal. The most important thing I do at the very first, at no charge, is to find out what your situation is, and that alone helps to clarify what you should do next. Please contact me to explore the next step that's right for you.

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"Is This Worth Appraising?"

I hear this question a lot, and I've learned that it means different things to different people. It can mean, "Should I insure this piece?" or "How would my policy cover it?" Sometimes, it's "What's a fair offer for it?" or "How much would you offer me?" Fairly often it means, "What the heck is this?!" followed by, "What should I do with it?"

For a quick analysis and preliminary discussion of your jewelry, consultation is the way to go. If you have any of these questions, please contact me.