Appraisal | Consultation Overview


A jewelry appraiser identifies, values and acts as a witness to your jewelry.

Identification requires gemological skills and an understanding of the materials, designs and techniques of the jewelry arts. Value is an unbiased, informed opinion about what something most often sells for, between certain kinds of buyers and sellers, in a particular place and at a particular timeAccordingly, value is relative, not absolute. The same thing will sell for, and therefore be worth, different amounts in different situations. A good witness must report these things in a way that clearly explains what the item is and how it has been valued. Is the gemstone natural or human-made, untreated or treated? Is the jewelry hand-made or mass-produced, new or old, signed or unsigned? Is the relevant market wholesale, retail or re-sale? Is it a locally-owned independent or national chain store, online vendor, antique shop, flea market, pawn shop, auction, or some other kind of seller? To ask and answer the right questions is to supply the context that gives meaning to the concept of "value."

Since it was first published by the Appraisal Foundation in 1987, the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) has been the basis of sound appraisal practice for property of all kinds: real, personal and intangible. It is updated every two years and exists "to promote and maintain a high level of public trust in appraisal practice by establishing requirements for appraisers." I believe in this goal and strive to fulfill it in all my assignments.

My appraisal fees.  The minimum charges for the written part of my work are $90 for the first item, $70 for the second, and $50 for each additional. Digital photographs are $15 each. (At least one image per item is required.) A diagram of clarity characteristics, called a plot, is provided for any diamond calculated to weigh at least 0.50 carat, at a charge of $45. (If one has already been done by a major diamond grading laboratory, it may be omitted after review for accuracy.) 

If you leave your items with me to be appraised, I will quote my maximum fee before any work begins. Two things determine the time I will spend to do the job properly and therefore the price: the number and complexity of the items and the level of research required to identify and value them according to how you will be using the document (please see the sidebar to the right). Especially with larger diamonds, I will go over your jewelry for distinguishing features, and again when you pick it up, so you know you are getting back the same thing you left. (I am glad to do the same thing with anything and everything else.) In most cases, I will complete multi-item insurance assignments in one week or less.

Some assignments in legal situations may be charged at a higher hourly rate. Others involving large numbers of items may allow fee reductions. Because every situation is different, I consider the whole picture in setting my maximum fee as low as possible.

My consultation services.  Consultation is a broad concept that can address a wide range of needs for which written reports are not necessary. In some cases, it is actually an oral appraisal, usually to give a preliminary opinion of your jewelry's likely identity and value, which I may express as a range in dollar terms. More often, in consultation I am speaking as a potential broker with market knowledge who is advising you about your selling options to achieve the highest possible return. 

Consultation is almost always carried out with the jewelry owner present. My fee for this service is $75 per half hour, with a $40 minimum for 15 minutes, and billed thereafter in 10-minute increments. (If a legal need must be met, or scheduled insurance coverage is desired, a subsequent written report is usually required, and then my regular appraisal fees will apply.)

  • Insurance coverage: Reviewing items to see if they are already covered under your homeowner's policy may save you premium cost without the expense of a written appraisal. However, insurance companies require written reports for "scheduling" items individually, which gives more complete coverage than the general jewelry clause in the homeowners' policy. (Come prepared! Find out how your particular insurance policy works.) 
  • Purchase advice: Determining whether you've gotten a "good deal" does not initially require a written appraisal and usually gives more insight into market value than Retail Replacement Value for insurance coverage. 
  • Equitable division: Providing a fair basis for distributing jewelry among heirs is usually possible without a written document if all concerned parties agree to this process.

When you're thinking of selling your jewelry: In consultation, I will tell you how I can sell your jewelry for you and advise you about all other selling options you should consider. This kind of consultation is considered a valuation service in the broad sense, but it is not an appraisal because I am acting as your advocate, focusing on how you can realize the highest price possible within the time your situation allows. I help you decide the next step that's right for you. (See Brokerage FAQs.) 

If you are interested in an appraisal or a consultation, please call 843-7856 or contact me before you come to ask questions about the process and to schedule an appointment.

Appraising Many Types of Value for Many Uses

  • Retail Replacement Value, for owners seeking insurance coverage for their gems and jewelry
  • Fair Market Value, for executors charged with reporting estate tax liability
  • Fair Market Value, for donors of gems and jewelry claiming tax deductions for charitable contributions
  • Marketable Cash Values for owners considering ways to sell their jewelry in various markets
  • Marketable Cash Value, for equitable distribution of gems and jewelry among heirs
  • Fair Market Value, for divorce attorneys dividing marital estates that include gems and jewelry
  • Quality Confirmation and Retail Market Value, for consumers confirming purchase decisions
  • Damage Reports, for private owners and insurers with damaged gemstones or jewelry
  • Various market values, including Retail, Wholesale, and Re-sale, for institutional and individual clients in criminal or civil court actions (based on applicable laws)
  • Quality Control, and Wholesale Market Value and Marketable Cash Value, for jewelry stores, banks, law firms  and other businesses with gems and jewelry interests

The Truth About Insurance Appraisals

You may think that the value is the most important thing about a jewelry insurance appraisal. It is important, but even more so are the verbal description and a good photograph. When there's a claim, everyone needs a thorough, accurate idea of what was lost in order to settle it according to the terms of the coverage. 

If nothing bad ever happened, getting an appraisal would be needless. But we all know otherwise. You may decide to shop for the cheapest jewelry appraisal, but please remember, when the moment comes to depend on it, what was the cheapest way at first may prove not to be the least expensive in the end.