Appraising a piece of jewelry is the only way to get an accurate statement of its value, which is important whether you are planning to keep and insure the item or sell it for a good price. Getting a professional appraisal is mostly about doing your research to select an appraiser you trust.
1. Know What Kind of Appraiser You Want
It's best to choose an appraiser who specializes in jewelry, but choosing the right type of appraiser goes beyond that as well. This comes down to knowing what makes your jewelry special. Does your item have precious gems? Is it an antique? There are lots of options, but these are two that may apply to your situation.
If there are any precious or semi-precious gems on your jewelry, you should choose an appraiser who is also a certified gemologist. This type of professional is trained in gem grading and can closely examine and value the stones in your jewelry.
Antique Jewelry Appraiser
The value of antique jewelry depends on more than the condition of a piece and the quality of the materials used in its construction. There are also things like rarity, provenance or history, and designer to consider when assigning value.
2. Find an Appraiser Through a Professional Association
The best way to find a good appraiser is through a professional association, according to the GIA. This way, you can ensure your appraiser is properly qualified and specializes in the area you require. Professional appraisal associations have members all over the country and world, so you can easily find someone in your location. Consider some of the following:
- American Gem Society - These appraisers are certified gemologists and can assign value to pieces set with stones.
- Canadian Gemological Association - This organization is for Canadian appraisers who are also certified gemologists.
- International Society of Appraisers - Here, you can find appraisers that specialize in everything from antique jewelry to unique ethnic or cultural pieces.
- Appraisers International Society - Covering the US and world, these appraisers specialize in jewelry of all types.
3. Understand the Requirement of Your Insurance Company
According to Brides, most insurance companies will insist you get an appraisal for jewelry worth more than $5,000, but specific requirement will vary by the company. If you are having the jewelry, such as an engagement ring, appraised for insurance purposes, it's best to work directly with your insurance company to determine their expectations. Some companies may want your appraiser to have specific certifications or require that the appraisal be presented in a specific format.
4. Keep Tips in Mind When Considering Pricing
Appraisers can charge for their services in a variety of ways, but no matter how they do it, the fees should be clearly communicated to you before you begin working with them. Costs vary with the complexity of the jewelry, the experience and credentials of the appraiser, and the area in which you live, but on average, expect to spend about $50 to $150 for an hour of the appraiser's time.
- Hourly fee - In this case, the appraiser will estimate how long it will take him or her to complete your appraisal and give you a cost prediction based on that. Always check to see if there is a minimum rate.
- Flat fee - With this fee structure, an appraiser will evaluate a certain number of pieces for a specific flat fee. The job and the costs are clearly defined.
If an appraiser sets the fee based on the value of your item, such as a fee that is 5 percent of the value of your ring, work with someone else. This fee structure presents a conflict of interest.
5. Agree on a Preliminary Value Beforehand
Sometimes, appraisers will evaluate your jewelry in your presence, as this protects both of you from miscommunication about loss or damage. However, it's often challenging to make this work for everyone's schedule. If you are handing over your jewelry, you should fill out an intake form that states a basic replacement value and description for the item or items. This paper is not an appraisal, but it does indicate a value you and the appraiser both agree the piece is worth if it is lost of damaged during the appraisal process.
Do Your Research
Doing your research ahead of time can help you hire an appraiser who specializes in your type of jewelry, is associated with a reputable professional organization, and works for a fair fee. Most appraisers are happy to help you in any way they can, and you'll find the experience of working together informative and useful.