If you own high-value jewelry, knowing the value of your pieces is essential.
A professional jewelry appraisal informs you of what your items are worth and allows you to obtain insurance coverage to protect your collection. But navigating the appraisal process can be confusing — especially if you’ve inherited new pieces or are unsure how to find a reliable appraiser.
Learn the basics of getting jewelry appraised so you can learn the value of your pieces and protect them with proper jewelry insurance coverage.
What is a Jewelry Appraisal?
A jewelry appraisal is a valuation of a jewelry item like a diamond ring, family heirloom or other high-value piece made of precious metals or gemstones. Official appraisals are performed by a certified professional jewelry appraiser who inspects the piece and provides a detailed report that estimates its fair market value (FMV).
Most people seek a jewelry appraisal to help them understand tax liability on high-value collections or obtain jewelry insurance from an insurance company on new or inherited pieces. You might also want an appraisal if you plan to sell a piece of jewelry.
What to Expect During a Jewelry Appraisal
The jewelry appraisal process typically includes five main elements. When obtaining a jewelry appraisal, expect the following from your appraiser:
- A statement of the type of value being assessed. For example, a fair-market value appraisal for insurance or tax purposes or a replacement-value appraisal for an insurance claim.
- A thorough description of the jewelry item or items the appraiser is valuing.
- Communication detailing how the appraiser estimates the piece’s value such as a comparable sales analysis similar to a comparative market analysis in the real estate market.
- Demonstration of the appraiser’s qualifications, such as a certificate from the regulatory body from which they obtained their training.
- An official document detailing the item’s value based on all elements examined by the appraiser, complete with their signature.
How Does an Appraiser Value My Pieces?
When having a piece of jewelry appraised, the qualified jewelry appraiser typically looks at specific elements of the piece. The features they look at vary based on the type of jewelry. For example, when appraising a ring’s value, the appraiser may look at the stone and metal of the piece.
For engagement rings, they may only perform a valuation on the center stone, as side stones typically don’t add much to the overall value. They may look at the diamond’s clarity, cut, carat, and color, then compare it to the FMV of similar pieces to estimate its value.
How to Find a Trustworthy Appraiser
Finding a reliable jewelry appraiser is a significant element of learning how to appraise jewelry. There are no federal or state regulations on appraisal certification, so you must know how to find a professional with reliable qualifications for the type of appraisal you need.
The following tips can help you find a certified appraiser in your location:
- Appraisal credentials: Several reputable organizations offer certifications and titles for appraisers. Explore organizations such as the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA), the American Gem Society or the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers to locate appraisers near you.
- Gemological credentials: A reliable appraiser will have a graduate-level diploma from the Gemological Institute of America or an equivalent institution.
- Industry knowledge and reputation: Your appraiser should understand manufacturing standards, have a broad range of experience and adopt high ethical standards related to the jewelry and appraisal industry.
Who Should Appraise My Vintage or Heirloom Jewelry?
If you have vintage or heirloom jewelry, seek an appraiser with experience valuing these pieces. An antique jewelry appraisal often involves more complicated valuations than newer items.
Your appraiser may look at the FMV of the individual elements of the piece, such as scrap metal or gemstones. They may also offer an appraisal based on its value as part of an estate, wholesale opportunity or replacement-market value. You may reach out to a high-end auction house if you believe you have a very high-value or historically significant piece.
Where Should I Have Diamond Jewelry Appraised?
You can usually go to your local jewelry store or the retailer who sold you the piece for a diamond jewelry appraisal, or you can connect with an appraiser near you. Most diamond retailers offer free estimates, especially if you have a preexisting relationship with the establishment. However, if your diamond is unique, you may seek a specialty diamond appraiser through an accredited organization.
How Much Does a Jewelry Appraisal Cost?
Understanding how much a jewelry appraisal costs can help determine whether you need to visit a professional jeweler in-store or get your pieces appraised online.
A jewelry appraisal can cost between $50 and $150, depending on the jewelry store, the appraiser’s experience and the piece’s value. The appraiser may charge you an hourly rate for more complex, rare or antique pieces. Or you may be charged a flat rate per piece.
The appraiser may offer a discounted price if you need several pieces appraised simultaneously, such as for an estate valuation.
Can You Get a Free Appraisal?
If you are looking to get jewelry appraised for free near you, the only option is to ask the fine jewelry store where you bought your piece. Most fine jewelers offer a free jewelry appraisal at the point of purchase. However, you should expect to pay a flat or hourly fee if you have your jewelry appraised at a store where you did not purchase the item.
High-end auction houses like Christie’s or Sotheby’s offer free appraisals and valuations for extremely high-value jewelry.
Can I Get an Appraisal Online?
An online jewelry appraisal is a fast and effective way to assess your piece’s value, and you can connect with a reputable online appraiser near you today. Jewelry appraised online is ideal for people who want to consign and sell their pieces at auction quickly or for people applying for jewelry insurance. However, be aware that most online jewelry appraisers cannot provide certificates of authentication.
Can I Appraise My Own Jewelry?
To save money on appraisal fees, you may wonder, “How do I appraise my jewelry?”There are no state or federal licensing requirements for jewelry appraisers, so technically, you can appraise your own jewelry. However, while you can generate a rough estimate of the jewelry’s value based on stamps, markers and receipts, most jewelry insurers or buyers won’t accept a self-appraisal as proof of the piece's value.
Why is Jewelry Appraisal Important for Your High-Value Pieces?
It’s crucial to get a jewelry appraisal for insurance. Dedicated jewelry insurance protects your high-value pieces against theft, damage, loss or mysterious disappearance. Insurance pays for the cost of replacing or repairing your piece, ensuring you don’t pay out of pocket.
Your insurance provider uses the appraisal value to determine the premium you need to pay monthly or annually. If the value of your pieces is overinflated, you may pay more than you need. However, if your jewelry is undervalued, it may result in underinsuring the piece, leaving you with significant out-of-pocket expenses. An appraisal also shows proof of purchase or ownership if your jewelry is ever lost or stolen.
Obtain a Professional Appraisal for Peace of Mind
An appraisal offers many benefits to those who own high-value jewelry. A valuation lets you know what your pieces are worth and, more importantly, helps you obtain the right insurance coverage to protect your collection.
If you recently bought jewelry like an engagement or wedding ring or inherited a potentially valuable piece, seek an appraisal so you can protect your piece and gain peace of mind.
About Dustin Lemick
Dustin is the founder and CEO of BriteCo, an innovative insurance technology company that is transforming the retail jewelry appraisal and insurance experience for the digital age. Dustin is a third-generation jeweler with deep industry knowledge of the retail jewelry environment and the needs of jewelry buyers. Prior to founding BriteCo, Dustin was the president of his family’s jewelry business, Cy Fredrics Jewelers, a luxury jewelry and watch company in the north suburbs of Chicago.