FAQs


1. Can an appraiser purchase jewelry from the public?
2. Can an appraiser design, sell, and/or repair jewelry?
3. Can I wait while my jewelry is being appraised?
4. What is the cost of an appraisal?
5. How does the appraiser determine the fee for each piece?
6. Can I get my appraisal updated over the years without taking the jewelry to the appraiser again?
7. How often should I have my appraisal updated?
8. Do you remove gemstones from jewelry to appraise them?
9. Will you update another appraiser’s work?
10. Will you appraise online descriptions?
11. Should only expensive jewelry be appraised?
12. Doesn’t my homeowner’s insurance policy cover my jewelry if I don’t have it appraised?
13. How do you determine the value of an item for insurance?
14. Is the insurance value the same as the retail value?
15. Can I talk with my appraiser about how to sell jewelry?
16. What is antique value? Can vintage or period jewelry be more expensive because of its age?
17. When I purchase jewelry on a trip, should I bring it to my appraiser to examine?
18. Can my appraiser examine my jewelry to see if any gemstones are chipped or if any repairs are needed?
19. Is my appraisal value in any way affected by whether I have purchased replacement cost coverage or agreed value (contract) coverage?
20. Is there a fee to examine a group of pieces just to determine what should and should not be appraised?
21. How do I decide what pieces to appraise?
22. I presume one cannot insure sentimental value, right?
23. Do you appraise family silver flatware and serving pieces?
24. Do you appraise silver flatware and serving pieces in your office, or in clients’ homes?
25. Since you retain copies of your clients’ insurance appraisals, can I request an appraisal for a different purpose at some point in the future?
26. Do your appraisals come with photographs?
27. Should I bring my old appraisal/laboratory report to my appointment?
28. Why do I need an appraisal when I have one from the original seller?
29. Is it important to open my watch to appraise it?
30. I have a ring with a stone that changes color under certain lights – is it alexandrite?
31. Can you tell me how much the value of my diamond has increased over the past 25 years?
32. If I donate my jewelry to a charity, can I deduct its appraised value provided to me by the seller?
33. I purchased my diamond online. When you appraise it for insurance, do you use internet diamond prices or regular jewelry store diamond prices?

 

1. CAN AN APPRAISER PURCHASE JEWELRY FROM THE PUBLIC
No! There can be no hint of a conflict of interest. Jewelers are approached every day by the public to provide offers to purchase jewelry. The jeweler’s offer is always substantially below the current wholesale cost of the gemstones/pieces.

 
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2. CAN AN APPRAISER DESIGN, SELL AND OR REPAIR JEWELRY?
Yes! The conflict of interest rules prohibit the appraiser from making an offer on the pieces he evaluates. They do not prohibit the appraiser from providing products and other services to the public.

 
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3. CAN I WAIT WHILE MY JEWELRY IS BEING APPRAISED?
Yes. I like my clients to sit with me. This makes them feel secure, and it allows me to converse with them, which often reveals information that assists the appraisal process. You may request an appointment by phone or email, or you may just stop by. After inquiring about the number of pieces and the purpose of the appraisal, I then estimate the length of our appointment and provide the fee. I charge my fee only once. Then, over the decades, upon your request, I will update my report at no charge. After you depart with your jewelry, I research the value, prepare the appraisal and mail it with color photographs within 1 to 2 days.

 
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4. WHAT IS THE COST OF AN APPRAISAL?
Appraisers charge by the piece. My fees begin at $15/piece. Over the last 42 years, fees average $38/item. Fees may increase with complex jewelry containing multiple gemstones each of which must be identified, measured, graded and valued, and or when it becomes important to determine both laboratory enhancements to and geographic origin of gemstones. Cash value appraisals to help customers divide jewelry among family members or sell jewelry are the least expensive. Appraisals requiring detailed knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code and which are attached to tax documents are generally the most expensive to perform. It is unethical to charge a fee based on the value of the piece.

 
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5. HOW DOES THE APPRAISER DETERMINE THE FEE FOR EACH PIECE?
There are two parts to every appraisal. The first is accurate identification and thorough description. The second, which takes the most time, is research. Research must be done to find pieces of like kind and quality and determine their average selling price. This varies from easy to extremely difficult. It must be done so that the appraiser when asked can explain to his client the research results which influenced the final appraised value.

 
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6. CAN I GET MY APPRAISAL UPDATED OVER THE YEARS WITHOUT TAKING THE JEWELRY TO THE APPRAISER AGAIN?
Yes, as long as your insurance company permits this service. Some do and some do not. The appraiser must indicate on the updated report that the work was accomplished without viewing the jewelry. Thoroughly professional appraisals performed the first time allow this to work.

 
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7. HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE MY APPRAISAL UPDATED?
As often as you wish. As a general rule, every 4 to 5 years is a good standard.

 
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8. DO YOU REMOVE GEMSTONES TO APPRAISE?
No. The only exception is when there appears to be a conflict between the seller’s representation of gemstone weight/quality, and it becomes necessary to remove the stone to determine accurate answers. When this happens, my customer is present and observes both the removal and the resetting.

 
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9. WILL YOU UPDATE ANOTHER PERSON’S WORK?
No. If I have never seen the jewelry, I must see it to perform my initial appraisal.

 
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10. WILL YOU APPRAISE ONLINE DESCRIPTIONS?
No.

 
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11. SHOULD ONLY EXPENSIVE JEWELRY BE APPRAISED?
No. Any kind of jewelry may be appraised so that you can insure it on your homeowner’s fine arts rider, attached to your primary policy.

 
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12. DOESN’T MY HOMEOWNER’S POLICY COVER MY JEWELRY IF I DO NOT HAVE IT APPRAISED?
Yes, there is some coverage, but it is limited. Generally speaking there are 3 limitations. First, there is a deductible to pay. Second, there is a maximum amount of coverage allowed for a single item. Third, there is a maximum amount of coverage allowed for all jewelry, cumulatively. Your insurance agent is the best source for information on the coverage limitations for jewelry without appraisals.

 
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13. HOW DO YOU DETERMINE THE VALUE OF AN ITEM FOR INSURANCE?
The purpose of the insurance appraisal is singular … to protect the owner in the event of damage or loss of any kind, and to allow the owner in that instance to shop for a new item in many kinds of jewelry stores, or to cash out for current value. Therefore the value for insurance must be high enough to fulfill this function.

 
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14. IS THE INSURANCE VALUE THE SAME AS THE RETAIL VALUE?
Yes and no. It may be, if the retail value fulfills the purpose of the appraisal. If the retail value is closer to the wholesale cost, then the answer is no. The value for insurance must then be higher. Example. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of a wristwatch is a good benchmark for the appraisal, even if the customer purchased the watch at a discount. However the average retail selling price of a diamond in 2016 is very low, too low in fact to fulfill the purpose and function of the insurance appraisal.

 
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15. CAN I TALK WITH MY APPRAISER ABOUT HOW TO SELL JEWELRY?
Absolutely. A professional appraiser will know his/her local and regional marketplace. Which jewelers buy from the public? What do they pay? Is the piece of a style or type that may be sold on an internet auction? Is the piece of a type where the most dollars may be obtained through consignment? Should the piece be refined, and the gemstones used in other jewelry or sold? What is the value of the piece as a trade-in to help pay for new jewelry? These are all questions properly given to your appraiser. When you make your appointment, tell your appraiser that you have jewelry you are considering selling and you need professional advice on how to go about it. One way to know quickly if you are dealing with an honorable appraiser is if he/she immediately wants to examine the pieces and make you an offer.

 
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16. WHAT IS ANTIQUE VALUE? CAN VINTAGE OR PERIOD JEWELRY BE MORE EXPENSIVE BECAUSE OF ITS AGE?
There is no such thing as antique value, except for pieces made during and before the 17th century. No, the age of vintage/period jewelry from the 18th century forward should not create a premium price. The features used to determine the cost of old jewelry are identical to those used to determine cost of new jewelry. These are the metals used, weight and quality of gemstones, method of manufacture, beauty and function of the design, name of designer/manufacturer, execution and comparative rarity of the piece. Words used by sellers to promote age are merely part of the sales presentation. If the representation of age is accurate, this may create additional interest, BUT AGE ALONE SHOULD NOT CREATE ADDITIONAL COST.

 
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17. WHEN I PURCHASE JEWELRY ON A TRIP, SHOULD I BRING IT TO MY APPRAISER TO EXAMINE?
Yes, if you wish to confirm information provided by the seller. Yes, if the seller’s documents do not describe the features of the gemstones and jewelry properly. Yes, if the seller has provided sub-standard laboratory reports to support the sale of gemstones. Yes, if you wish to insure the item and the seller did not provide you with a report for that purpose.

 
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18. CAN MY APPRAISER EXAMINE MY JEWELRY TO SEE IF ANY GEMSTONES ARE CHIPPED OR IF ANY REPAIRS ARE NEEDED?
Yes, this is routinely done and the appraiser discloses to his client anything that requires attention immediately or will need to be taken care of in the near future.

 
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19. IS MY APPRAISAL VALUE IN ANY WAY AFFECTED BY WHETHER I HAVE PURCHASED REPLACEMENT COST COVERAGE OR AGREED VALUE (CONTRACT) COVERAGE?
No. The appraisal process and the resulting value have nothing to do with the type of policy and coverage you purchase.

 
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20. IS THERE A FEE TO EXAMINE A GROUP OF PIECES JUST TO DETERMINE WHAT SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT BE APPRAISED?
No, and this should be done at the beginning of the appointment.

 
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21. HOW DO I DECIDE WHAT PIECES TO APPRAISE?
Most families set a financial marker. Above the marker, they require an appraisal because they intend to list each item on their fine arts insurance schedule. Below the marker, they do not wish to pay for an appraisal because they do not intend to separately insure the item. Financial markers vary from a low of $100 to a high of $5,000. Over the decades, the average is between $250 and $500.

 
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22. I PRESUME ONE CANNOT INSURE SENTIMENTAL VALUE, RIGHT?
That is correct. However many clients still wish to insure relatively inexpensive jewelry because in the event of damage or loss, they desire to make a claim rather than absorb the loss out-of-pocket.

 
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23. DO YOU APPRAISE FAMILY SILVER FLATWARE AND SERVING PIECES?
Yes. This is a relatively inexpensive appraisal if all pieces are part of the same design FROM the same manufacturer, which makes the research quick and simple. The actual examination and descriptions take a bit longer.

 
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24. DO YOU APPRAISE SILVER FLATWARE AND SERVING PIECES IN YOUR OFFICE OR AT CLIENTS’ HOMES?
Both. There is no additional fee to come to a client’s home.

 
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25. SINCE YOU RETAIN COPIES OF YOUR CLIENTS’ INSURANCE APPRAISALS, CAN I REQUEST AN APPRAISAL FOR A DIFFERENT PURPOSE AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE?
Yes. Once I have performed the insurance appraisal, I can then send my clients any information they wish about any of the pieces, including how to sell them, how to divide them equally in estate planning documents, how to donate them to qualified charities, and so forth. There is no fee for any of these additional services down the road.

 
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26. DO YOUR APPRAISALS COME WITH PHOTOGRAPHS?
Yes, every piece is individually photographed at different angles, in color, and these are sent with the signed original appraisal to the client. After the appraisal is faxed to the insurance agent, the client should retain the signed original and the photos in a safe place.

 
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27. SHOULD I BRING MY OLD APPRAISAL/LABORATORY REPORT TO MY APPOINTMENT?
Yes, because these reports may contain accurate information about mounted gemstones.

 
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28. WHY DO I NEED AN APPRAISAL WHEN I HAVE ONE FROM THE ORIGINAL SELLER?
Often the documents supplied by a seller simply repeat the information presented during the sales presentation. Usually this is not sufficient to describe the item thoroughly which makes it more difficult for a future jeweler and adjuster to determine value. Also, a value provided by an expert who is independent of the sale and who researches the current value more properly protects you on your fine arts rider.

 
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29. IS IT IMPORTANT TO OPEN MY WATCH TO APPRAISE IT?
Yes, unless you have paperwork that lists the serial numbers of the movement and case. These are important details to verify the authenticity of your watch and its replacement cost.

 
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30. I HAVE A RING WITH A STONE THAT CHANGES COLOR UNDER CERTAIN LIGHTS. IS THE STONE ALEXANDRITE?
In addition to natural alexandrite, there are a number of synthetic and imitation gemstones that change color under different lights. One of these is synthetic color change sapphire which was manufactured during the first 20 years of the 20th century. Another is synthetic alexandrite, which was first manufactured in the 1970’s.

 
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31. CAN YOU TELL ME HOW MUCH THE VALUE OF MY DIAMOND HAS INCREASED OVER THE PAST 25 YEARS?
Yes. This is called a retrospective appraisal.

 
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32. IF I DONATE MY JEWELRY TO A CHARITY, CAN I DEDUCT ITS APPRAISED VALUE PROVIDED TO ME BY THE SELLER?
No. The seller’s value is usually limited to insurance. You must obtain a fair market value appraisal from an expert appraiser in this specialty field.

 
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33. I PURCHASED MY DIAMOND ONLINE. WHEN YOU APPRAISE IT FOR INSURANCE, DO YOU USE INTERNET DIAMOND PRICES OR REGULAR JEWELRY STORE DIAMOND PRICES?
I use both, depending on which venue provides you with the best protection. In 2016, the price of diamonds on line and in most jewelry stores has become highly competitive.

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