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Jewelry Appraisals - A Guide for Consumers

By  Judith Anderson  GG, CGA

Was Santa good to you last Christmas?   Did he leave any fine jewels or precious gemstones under your tree?   If he did,  'tis the season for jewelry appraisals.   It is also a good time to consider updating the appraisals for your other jewelry.

When having jewelry appraised,  the jewelry consumer is faced with two questions: What type of appraisal is most appropriate?  And, how do you find a qualified jewelry appraiser?   The following consumer's guide to jewelry appraisals will help you answer these questions.

There are basically three types of jewelry appraisal.   Each serves a different purpose and provides a different estimate of a jewel's value.   It is important to determine which type of appraisal will best meet your needs.

1.   A Consumer Protection Appraisal (CPA) is for the consumer who is considering the purchase a fine jewel or precious gemstone.   The CPA report provides the consumer with an accurate description of the jewel's quality and physical characteristics, as well as its estimated retail and wholesale costs.   The CPA helps you assess whether the seller has fairly and accurately represented the quality of the jewel and whether the asking price is fair.

2.   A Replacement Cost Appraisal (RCA) provides an estimate of the cost to replace a jewel with a new jewel of comparable look and quality.   RCAs are most often used to determine an appropriate amount of insurance coverage.   It is important that the RCA provide an accurate estimate of a jewel's replacement cost.   If the replacement cost is over-stated, your jewelry will be over insured and you will pay higher premiums than necessary.   (Please note, if a jewel is lost or stolen, the insurance company often only reimburses you for the jewels estimated replacement cost, not necessarily the full insured amount.)

3.   A Fair-Market Value Appraisal (FMVA) is most often used for tax and estate purposes.   The FMVA provides an estimate of the likely selling price of a jewel if it is sold in its current, as-is condition in its most common market.

Once you have determined the type of appraisal you need, you must find a qualified jewelry appraiser.   The first step is to examine the appraisers credentials.   At a minimum a jewelry appraiser should be a trained Graduate Gemologist (GG), an active member of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) or the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), and a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA).

Next, ask for a tour of the appraiser's gemological laboratory.   Assessing the quality and value of precious gemstones and metals requires a full battery of scientific instruments.   The appraiser's lab should at a minimum include a binocular microscope, refractometer, spectroscope, polariscope, digital scale, and full spectrum lighting.

Finally, review a sample of the appraisal report that the appraiser will prepare.   A complete appraisal report should include: a full and accurate description of the gemstone or jewel, estimated values with full disclosure of any limitations or qualifications, and a complete discussion of the appraiser's methodology.

A qualified appraiser will always take the time to explore with you the purpose and cost of your appraisal.   Feel free to ask questions about the appraiser's credentials, required lab work, appraisal documentation and fees.   An qualified professional will be happy to answer your questions and help you become a better educated consumer.

Bijoux Extraordinaire is a practice of independent gemologists and jewelry experts working for the jewelry consumer.   Among the services we provide are  diamond brokering  and  custom jewelry design.

If you would like to learn more about fine jewelry and gemstones, please consider enrolling in the next session of our  Jewelry and Gemstone Workshops.

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