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Jewelry Appraisal: Why You Should Evaluate Your Pieces

wedding ring

Why get a jewelry appraisal? Most people only decide to get their jewelry appraised after their insurance company requests documentation before offering coverage of their wedding or engagement rings or a family heirloom, but there are many reasons to find out the true worth of a piece.

Reasons to Get a Jewelry Appraisal

There are two main reasons people get a jewelry appraisal. Probably the most common is to insure jewelry. Most policies do not offer enough coverage to replace fine jewelry in case of theft, fire, or other catastrophe. Additional coverage for individual pieces can be added to a typical homeowner's policy at little cost, but insurance companies usually require a complete jewelry appraisal by an independent jeweler. The second major reason for an appraisal is when people buy or sell items. Whether it is an estate sale or an individual selling or purchasing jewels, it is important to know the value of items to avoid paying too much or selling the piece for too little. Less common reasons may be to assuage curiosity about what an item is worth or for traveling purposes, where the value of an item must be declared for customs.

Although many stores offer a free appraisal when jewelry is purchased from them, these appraisals are sometimes inflated. It is a good idea to get a second appraisal from an independent source not affiliated with the store from which the item is purchased. Quality stores will offer some form of guarantee if the appraisal comes back a certain percentage less than the purchase price.

Appraiser Qualifications

A gemologist who has studied jewelry appraisal is qualified to estimate the worth of fine jewelry. In addition, the appraiser should be member of an appraisal association that follows specific standards called the Uniformed Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP). A professional appraiser should be well educated in the science and formation of both natural and synthetic stones. An appraiser whose full-time job is to appraise gems will be much more proficient than one who only appraises items occasionally as a part of a larger job description. Consumers shouldn't be afraid to ask questions about the person who will be estimating the worth of jewelry.


  • Is he a graduate gemologist?
  • Is he a member of a professional appraiser association?
  • How often he has to take certification or recertification classes?
  • What equipment is used to evaluate the jewelry?
  • Does he have an area of expertise?
  • Can he provide references?

Appraisal Inclusions

An appraisal should always be accompanied by a written statement that the following details:

  • Carat
  • Weight
  • Size
  • Color
  • Grade

The appraisal should state whether the jewelry is a natural gem or synthetic and the estimated value of the item. Preferably, a photograph of the item should be included.

It is also important to note that loose stone appraisals are called Lab Certificates. These certificates offer a grading of the gem.

Appraisal Fees

Most appraisers charge a flat or hourly fee per piece of jewelry. Never agree to pay a percentage of the value of the item. Online appraisals are not legitimate for fine jewelry, as gems require hands on observation for a reliable quote. Although prices vary by area and how complex the job is, most jewelry appraisals have a base cost between $50-$100. Involved appraisals run more. A local gemologist should be able to give a more thorough estimate of the time involved and the cost of the appraisal. Beware of appraisals at bargain prices or free appraisals. You may not get what you pay for, and in some cases, these appraisals are fronts for scams, such as replacing your real gems with worthless ones.

While no one wants to lose her grandmother's wedding ring, accidents happen. The sentimental value of such a loss can never be restored, but having an accurate, professional appraisal and appropriate insurance coverage can help cover some of the monetary loss.

Jewelry Appraisal: Why You Should Evaluate Your Pieces