Jewelry Appraisals: Need or Luxury?

By Tony Cruz, Manager

Christmas is just around the corner. Many people will receive jewelry as gifts. Others may inherit jewelry from family members. A series of questions always arise: Should I get the items insured? Is it worth insuring? What is needed to get the item insured? All of these are legitimate questions. However, often times they will not get answers to these questions and do not insure their jewelry. They do not know where to go for the answers or are afraid that the cost will be prohibitive. Some people think that what they have is not worth insuring and that insurance is a luxury they can do without. Before an individual can make this decision, they need to talk to a professional who specializes in appraisals.

For as many jewelry items that do not need to be insured, many items should be insured. How do you tell the difference? Talk to a jewelry appraiser. He or she can determine whether a piece of jewelry is costume jewelry, real, valuable or not. With the appraiser’s help you can determine whether a piece of jewelry should be appraised and possibly insured.
When deciding to have the jewelry appraised, use a professional. Jewelry appraisals are to be performed by professionals with appropriate training and experience. An appraiser must correctly identify gems, gem treatments, and precious metals. In addition, an appraiser must be able to identify manufacturing techniques, component parts and assess beauty and rarity. Knowledge of the market and the ability to research the appropriate markets is a must.

a CUT ABOVE 3.6The most important qualifications of an appraiser is his/her integrity, professionalism and knowledge. Jewelry appraising requires a professional. “A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.”
An appraisal is a legal document that is used in probate, lawsuits, insurance and for verification of an item’s authenticity. As a result, adherence to thoroughness, accuracy and professionalism is required. A jeweler that offers this service cares about his or her client and the jeweler’s goal is protecting the client.
Most appraisals are performed for insurance purposes. Insurance on jewelry is a means of financially protecting your investment. All insurance companies that offer insurance on jewelry have various requirements concerning the proof of the value of an insured item. The valuation, description, the date of the appraisal and the qualifications of the appraiser are the most common.
Is an appraisal necessary in order to secure full coverage? That depends on the insurance company’s underwriting policies. Some companies will require appraisals for items valued over a certain level such as $5,000.00. All items under that value can be insured with a detailed description. Other companies require appraisals on all items insured no matter what their value.
How detailed of a description is required by the insurance company? Many companies require a detailed description of the item which includes the stone grades, stone size and/or weight, type of materials, and the current Actual Cash Replacement value of the item. The more detailed the description, the more accurate the coverage and premium required. Having said that, some companies will not require a very detailed description.
How often should the appraisal be updated? Many companies do not require an update. The danger is that if prices on the item have gone up or down and a new appraisal is not done, the customer may be under insured or may be paying higher premiums than necessary. Many companies will suggest to have the items reappraised periodically but not
make it a condition of insurance. A good rule of thumb is to have the items reevaluated every three to five years. In the interim, have it inspected and kept in good condition. Your jeweler should be able to advise you if a piece needs to be reevaluated.

jwr2How recent should the appraisal be in order to get the item insured? Most companies will have a requirement on the age of the appraisal. Some may require the appraisal to be within three months of the date of application, while other companies may allow up to a year or more. The more recent the appraisal, the better the evaluation is for coverage.
What qualifications are required for an appraiser? Insurance companies range in their requirements from very little to having a degree from Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or another known and respective organization such as American Gem Society (AGS). Trained appraisers are able to give more detailed and accurate values to the items. Insurance companies and customers appreciate this aspect because both benefit from the skills of the appraiser.

When you are ready to insure your jewelry, ask your agent questions about the type of coverage, effect due to a claim, and how is the claim processed and paid. Companies have different policies with different coverages. Not all companies are the same, nor are all policies alike. Your jeweler may be able to offer some advice as to what to ask.
JWR Jewelers staff have a combined total of over 125 years of professional training and practical experience in the sale, service and valuation of jewelry. Our trained professionals are available to help you in your appraisal requirements and questions. Remember, appraisals are beneficial and are often times a necessity, not a luxury.



 Graduated UGA with a BBA in Management and a Juris Doctorate (JD) from UGA School of Law.  Practiced law for 9 years.  Have been in the jewelry industry for over twenty years and over fifteen of those years full time.  I have worked for JWR Jewelers for over 9 years as Store Manager.  I am a GIA Diamond Graduate and I am currently working on completing my GIA Graduate Gemologist degree.