You’ve recently purchased or inherited a lovely piece of jewelry and are unsure whether or not to have it appraised. We recommend our clients have any jewelry piece over $1,000 appraised. If you purchased the piece at a jewelry store, you should always ask for a courtesy appraisal that details all of the important characteristics. If you were given the piece as a gift or inherited it, bring it into a local jewelry store and have an independent appraiser conduct an appraisal. When you ask for the appraisal, you may be asked whether you would like an insurance replacement or estate appraisal.
Insurance replacement appraisals are done with the purpose of insuring your jewelry. The most common type of appraisal, insurance replacements provide an accurate, detailed description of the jewelry piece. You should only need to get your jewelry appraised once and then have the appraisal updated every few years. If the initial appraisal is done well enough, any experienced jeweler or insurance adjuster can easily update the appraisal by determining a proper replacement value in case the item is lost or damaged. The value assigned to an insurance replacement appraisal is determined by the cost of labor, type of precious metal, gemstone quality, current retail prices, and the gemstone market. This value is called the replacement value and reflects the realistic cost of replacing your jewelry piece in a jewelry retail store.
Estate appraisals are conducted if someone is interested in reselling his or her jewelry in a secondary market. These appraisals are also used as a basis for paying estate taxes. The appraiser uses his or her best judgement when determining the value of the jewelry piece and looks at several different factors including the condition of the jewelry item and whether or not the jewelry piece is currently in demand. This value is called the cash (or market) value and is the amount you should receive if you were to sell your jewelry. Since neither selling costs nor labor/design prices are taken into consideration, the value assigned to the jewelry piece is usually much lower than that determined for replacement value. It’s important to find an experienced appraiser who knows the resale market for jewelry well enough to have an accurate cash value assigned to the jewelry piece.