A professional Jewelry Appraisal must be comprehensive, thorough, and accurate in both the analysis and valuations assigned. As there are multiple types of appraisals, we’re here to help determine why you’d like an appraisal and which type is best for your needs.
Our Appraisal Process
Before every appraisal, we will sit down with you and do a quick consultation. This is one of the most important steps in the process. Because there are many different types of appraisals, we will help you determine WHY you want an appraisal and which one is right for you.
Do you want to insure your jewelry? Then an insurance replacement appraisal will be performed.
Do you need to divide jewelry items to settle an estate? Then an estate appraisal will be performed.
If you are trying to determine if a gemstone is real, or a simulant, or if you want to know if a piece is authentic gold, then you probably don’t need an appraisal. Usually, a jeweler will test your items for a small fee or as a courtesy.
Having an open, honest conversation with an appraiser will ensure that the service you receive is appropriate for your needs.
Cleaning is an essential step in any appraisal process. Dirt, oils, or lotions often buildup on the bottom of a gemstone or diamond, and need to be removed in order to get an accurate view of the color of a gemstone or the colorlessness of a diamond. Dirt particles can also obscure the internal characteristics of a stone and prevent the appraiser from getting an accurate analysis of the jewelry piece.
A digital gauge or Micrometer is used to measure the length, width, and depth of your gemstone or diamond. A circle is rarely perfect, so a largest and smallest measurement will be recorded to document how circular or out-of-round the stone may be.
Microscopic examination can spot any damage to the stone, such as chips, nicks, bruises, or abrasions. The appraiser can then recommend what work should be done to the gemstone.
If the gem or diamond is loose, then the carat weight is obtained by weighing the gem on a scale. However, in most cases the gem or diamond will be set into an item of jewelry that’s being appraised. If this is the case, then the gem weight will have to be estimated. Each gemstone has specific formulas that can be used to determine the weight based off the earlier measurements. By using these formulas, the carat weight can be calculated to within a 5% variance of the actual weight.
It isn’t recommended to remove a gemstone from it’s setting unless the 5% variance could significantly affect the stone’s value. For example, a diamond with a weight estimation of 2.97 carats could actually weight 3.00 carats. Since a three carat diamond is much more valuable than one under three carats, it is worth it to remove the stone for a proper measurement.
For a diamond, the appraiser will analyze the colorlessness of the rock by comparing it to a set of colorless, “master” diamonds. The comparison will determine where on the color range the diamond falls.
For a colored stone, there are three primary attributes: hue, tone, and saturation. A blue sapphire would be described as “very slightly violetish-blue hue, medium tone, bright intensity.” A specific description is extremely important because the color is responsible for 90% of the value.
Clarity is determined by the internal characteristics (or lack thereof) in a gem. Internal characteristics are called inclusions, and colored gemstones generally fall into three categories:
- Usually free of inclusions
- Normally included
- Usually heavily included
Most gems will fall into the “normally included” category. Since most gemstones have inclusions, the clarity does not significantly affect the value, unless the clarity is far outside the normal range of the gem. For example, emeralds are usually found heavily included, so an emerald with few inclusions would be significantly more valuable.
Diamond clarity is graded on an eleven step scale running from Flawless (no inclusions) to I3 (inclusions in all parts of the stone).
Inclusions are like the birthmarks of gems. Internal characteristics are specific to each variety of gemstone, and inclusion patterns can indicate which part of the world the gem was mined in.
“Cut” is a term usually reserved for diamonds, and many people assume that cut refers to the shape of the diamond. However, cut actually refers to the pattern of facets and the quality of the pattern’s execution. A diamond’s cut composes about 20% of the total value, and is rated from poor to ideal. When determining the cut, the table measurement, total depth, girdle thickness, symmetry, and polish will be analyzed.
The appraiser must describe the item in enough detail that, should a loss occur, the item could be duplicated. An acid test might be conducted to determine the metal type of the jewelry piece and the color and finish of the metal will be described. Since one piece of jewelry might have gems set in different setting styles, there should be individual descriptions of how each gemstone is set. The description of the item should paint a picture of the jewelry piece thorough enough that a reader could visualize it.
A comprehensive appraisal should include a photo of the piece of jewelry. The photo can be actual size or enlarged to show the detail of the jewelry. High clarity photography ensures that any replacement jewelry will be of like kind and quality if a claim is made
The next step is to research availability on the market. What are similar items selling for in your market? In today’s marketplace research will include local jewelry stores, possibly department stores, other businesses where jewelry similar to yours may be available and internet options. Since you can find an item halfway around the world and have it delivered to your door in a few days, the “marketplace” has become worldwide. However, for Insurance replacement appraisals the market most widely accepted will be local stores.
Is your item readily available from many sources or is it very rare and unusually difficult to replace? The market research done on these factors is what will determine the value of your jewelry. The rarer and exceptional, the higher the value due to the difficulty of replacement.
Once all this information is gathered it should be presented in an organized, typed report. This appraisal report should contain all the information mentioned above in a manner clear enough to be understood, yet detailed enough to remove any questions that could prohibit fluid replacement of your item if lost or stolen. The typed report should also include the date completed and reference what metals prices were at the time of appraisal.
An appraisal is a formal document containing information about specific item(s) of jewelry. A thorough appraisal should include a complete analysis of the stones, including:
- Number of stones
- Type of stones
- Stone measurements
- Color grade
- Color description (i.e. hue, tone, intensity)
Additionally, the appraisal should detail the setting and include:
- Type of metal
- Production method ( i.e. cast, hand-made, CAD)
- Designer information
The appraisal report should conclude with a picture of the item detailed enough to allow for reproduction.
There are multiple reasons for an appraisal. If you want to insure your jewelry through your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy, then your agent will need one. You should update your appraisal every seven to ten years to make sure you’re item(s) are accurately valued on the current marketplace. Too many people have let their appraisals lapse and found that their coverage does not cover the cost of replacing their jewelry.
Additionally, appraisals are useful for estate planning purposes. Detailed appraisals will allow you to plan for an equitable division of your pieces and give you a deeper understanding of the total value of your estate.
A diamond solitaire takes about an hour to appraise. Appraisal time would be divided into:
- 20 minutes for evaluation. We’ll take measurements, grade the color, examine the clarity, analyze the cutting description, and inspect the setting.
- 20 minutes for document preparation.We’ll make sure every part of the appraisal is complete and take a few high-quality pictures of the jewelry pieces.
- 20 minutes of market research. We’ll analyze the market and research the values of comparable items. Then, we’ll calculate a value for your specific items.
Numerous factors may increase appraisal time. Physically inspecting each diamond in fancy pieces—like an Art Deco diamond ring—could take one to several hours while writing descriptions for each of the stones could take several more hours. For rare pieces, the market research will take longer as well.
Costs will vary depending upon the intricacy of the jewelry item(s) being appraised and the time needed to do an accurate appraisal. Please call for more details.