We explain the differences in jewelry appraisals— and reasons you may need one
Everyone has an idea of what their cherished pieces of jewelry cost or are worth, right? Some of us might know how much we paid for an engagement ring or for how much a piece of jewelry is insured, but are these numbers official?
Many customers visit our jewelry stores looking for more information on appraisals. The challenge is, there are different types of appraisals that are used for various reasons, so it’s sometimes tricky to explain the cost or value of a piece of jewelry.
Because some customers aren’t 100% sure what they need, we walk them through the same information here and explain the different types of jewelry appraisal.
Your jewelry appraisal guide
Jewelry appraisal usually isn’t free, but the price depends on why you’re getting an item appraised. Our article on How much does jewelry appraisal cost? can help guide you in the right direction concerning price.
But aside from price, you’ll first need to know why you’re getting an item appraised.
Are you trying to get a strand of cultured pearls insured? Did you find a diamond ring while scuba diving? Maybe you’re dividing up the estate of a deceased relative? These reasons may affect how your appraisal will occur. To make it easier to explain, let’s break it down into four common examples of a need for an appraisal.
Jewelry appraisal for insurance reasons
This is a rigorous appraisal that looks at your item comprehensively. A jeweler will look at the item, determine what it’s made of, inspect and evaluate any gems, diamonds, pearls, or other stones in the piece, and provide you with a formal appraisal document explaining what he or she found.
If you’re piece of jewelry is covered under an insurance policy, at some point you will have to provide an appraisal for the piece from a qualified jeweler. This is a standard process that we discuss in our article, How do I insure my jewelry?
To do this, you would bring in all previous appraisals (if you had any), receipts, or gem lab grading reports that pertain to your piece of jewelry. This saves the jeweler a lot of time if he or she has that information before conducting the appraisal.
Most appraisals for one item start at $125, and your jewelry usually needs to be left with the jeweler for a while. Most often, we’d recommend stopping by in the morning and picking up the item later in the day, or the next day if necessary, for us to do a thorough job. During that time, we’d take the specifics on the jewelry, turn the item back over to you, and then type up the appraisal with all the findings and mail it to you, usually within a week. If you’re uncomfortable leaving your item, then we would recommend you try to make an appointment to have your piece(s) appraised.
The value given in an insurance appraisal is considered the replacement value. In short, this is the amount it would cost you to buy the item new again if it were lost or stolen, hence, replacement value.
Estate appraisal/fair market value/divorce appraisal
Just like it sounds, this method of appraisal is used to determine the value of an item for legal reasons. The goal with this type of appraisal is to put a value on the jewelry, since it’s likely being declared as an asset and being divided up as part of an estate, or the value is being determined for tax reasons.
While this is done in the exact same manner as if you were getting an item insured, your quoted number will most likely differ here. The amount placed on jewelry in this type of appraisal is the price you would ask if you were selling your item to a third party, such as if you decided to sell your item on eBay.
Offer to buy/old gold value appraisals
This, simply enough, is a way for a jeweler to determine what he or she would pay the customer for that piece of jewelry. If you’re interested in selling jewelry and take it to a jeweler, this is the value he or she will give you for your item.
Depending on the item, you may or may not get an offer to buy right away. It depends on the day and how busy the jewelers are at the time. In our stores, we can provide you with an immediate offer to buy around 90% of the time. In those 10% of cases where we can’t, it would be because we are busy, a jeweler is not in the store, or the item is complicated or very valuable. In these instances, you would leave the item in the store and retrieve it later so the appraiser can give it a more thorough inspection.
Jewelry appraisal for a verbal value
This is a loose and fast general estimate of the value of an item. This is almost always done simply to see if an item is a genuine piece of jewelry. This appraisal won’t be good enough for insurance, estate reasons, or an offer to buy. Consider this a very quick way to determine if an item is real or not.
Most of the time, we’d be able to let the customer know if his or her item is worth having appraised or if it is valuable. Depending on the type of item and time needed to appraise it, it may be possible you’d have to either wait or leave the item at the store for a while.
People often request a verbal appraisal when they inherit a piece of jewelry, find something, or buy something from a jeweler they don’t trust. Commonly, people ask for a verbal value to confirm they bought what they believe they bought.
Closing thought on jewelry appraisal
If you’re coming into one of our jewelry stores in New Jersey, or any other jewelry store, make sure you are up front with why you’re getting an item appraised. You don’t want to end up spending $125 for a thorough appraisal if all you’re trying to do is insure you bought a real item.
As always, communication is key. Let your jeweler know what you’re getting appraised, provide any information you can, and find out what it’s going to cost you.
To learn more about appraisals, feel free to visit either of our New Jersey jewelry store locations in Morristown or New Providence to see for yourself and talk to any of our expert jewelers.
If you’d like to talk to someone directly about jewelry appraisals, you can contact us online anytime by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply fill out our contact form. We’ll answer your questions quickly.