Understanding Jewelry Appraisals
The average person doesn't have the skills or experience to evaluate jewelry or gemstones on their own. Getting a fair and accurate appraisal of jewelry you already own or are thinking of buying can be cost prohibitive and time consuming. A jewelry buyer may try to find a reliable jeweler or online store and hope they are getting a good deal without the need for an appraisal. If the item is less than a $1000 or so an appraisal can add a significant cost.
When Should You Get An Appraisal?
When you are buying more expensive jewelry or purchasing gems for investment the only way you can be assured of the legitimacy or value is to get an appraisal. Relying on the seller's integrity and honesty could be a recipe for disaster. If you have built a rapport with a company or individual you may want to take a chance and trust their advice but the only why to get real peace of mind is to get a second opinion.
Can I Just Go To A Jewelry Store An Ask Them What It Is Worth?
The answer to this is easy, absolutely not. Most people behind a jewelry counter are sales people looking to sell you their products. It is common for a larger store to have a certified appraiser on staff but most of the employees and not qualified to do an appraisal and could care less what your precious gems are worth. It is very common for them to tell you how much you over paid and how you were ripped off in hopes of getting you to start buying from them. If you don't believe it, try taking a piece of jewelry to a jewelry store which has been appraised and certified by a top name company and see what they have to say. Don't show them your certification until after you hear their evaluation. You will most likely hear: Appraisals by that company can't be trusted or that piece of paper is meaningless. Think about this, a certified appraiser who has studied and been educated makes far less than a good sales person who may have no background and very little knowledge of evaluating gems. Don't get us wrong, there are very reputable jewelry stores with honest and qualified employees. It either comes down to trust or a certified appraisal.
Everyone knows the 4 C's: Clarity, Color, Cut and Carat Weight. Evaluating a stone or piece of jewelry properly requires an expert educated and certified. This requires schooling and experience. Even certified appraisals by companies or individuals are commonly questioned. These are people who have gone to school and studied gems extensively to get certified. It is not so difficult to look at a piece of jewelry and judge it's clarity, color or style of cut. It is simple to determine the carat weight. The doubting and questioning begins because an appraisal and valuation is subjective. It requires a thorough knowledge of the current market pricing environment for that particular gem class. An appraiser uses a wide variety of factors to make the most accurate appraisal they can. They have a reputation to protect.
Does The Appraised Price Mean You Can Sell It For That Price Tomorrow?
No. There are various types of appraisals but a retail appraisal tells you what your jewels should sell for in the retail market. A jewelry store likes to make 100% or more profit on an item so if they have interest they may offer you 50% of the retail price if your lucky.
Who should I trust to do an appraisal?
There are many appraisal companies as well as individual appraisers. Who you have do your appraisal should depend on what you are looking to do with your jewelry. If you are looking for an insurance appraisal or just want to know an approximate value of a piece most appraisers will suffice. If you are looking to sell your jewelry you may want to use a well known company with a good reputation.
Well Known and Trusted Appraisers and Agencies
GIA (Gemological Institute of America) - established in 1931, GIA is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls - www.gia.edu
AGS - founded in 1934 their goal is to help protect the jewelry-buying public from fraud and false advertising - www.americangemsociety.org
EGL-USA - For over three decades, EGL USA has provided cutting-edge gemological research, testing, and laboratory analysis - www.eglusa.com
IGI - the largest independent laboratory for grading and evaluating diamonds and fine jewelry, and is renowned for its quality services, extensive experience and expertise - www.igionline.com