What I learned at my first jewelry appraisal

[This week, I’m turning my blog over to a client who asked if she could write a few words about her recent (first) jewelry appraisal.]

Appraising jewelry

Appraising jewelry

I don’t consider myself as having a lot of jewelry. I do have a few heirlooms: a couple of bracelets from my grandmother, my grandfather’s watch cover and chain, and my mom’s engagement ring, a beautiful star sapphire. Plus, there are a few small chains and  gold bracelets that I’ve picked up over the years. I’ve never had a professional jewelry appraisal and felt it was time.

I spoke to Aimee and she reassured me that I don’t have to own a collection of multi-million dollar pieces to benefit from an appraisal. She said she’d meet me at her office or at my nearby home. I chose my place and we agreed on a time. I was actually nervous waiting for her.

website-pix-075When she came in, she had a few cases, all neatly tucked on a wheelie. She set up on my dining room table, spreading a white cloth, followed by a special sheet of paper that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) produces. Her equipment included:

  • Several loupes
  • A microscope
  • A small scale
  • Various measuring instruments
  • A camera
  • Long tweezers for picking up and positioning the jewelry

Choosing a valuation type

Aimee explained that there were two ways to value jewelry in an appraisal.

  1. Replacement value. This is a reflection of what it would cost to replace the piece in today’s market. This is also what you’d use with your insurance company to insure your jewelry and/or to get a rider on special pieces.
  2. Estate value. You might want this for a few reasons. It’s used for tax purposes when your estate is valued. It’s also useful if you want to make sure that you’re giving loved ones an object or objects of similar value. This way, one person doesn’t end up with a $10,000 diamond necklace while a second heir gets $5,000 of diamond earrings and a bracelet.

The appraisal process

It was great watching Aimee work. First, she separated the pieces into piles and then started with the items with stones—the sapphire and a charm with small rubies on it. She would first set the piece on the special paper and take a photograph from a couple of angles. Then it would go under the microscope. I got to look at it, and actually saw what makes up the star in the sapphire. Very cool. She weighed the piece, took notes on it in her computer, and moved on.

I was sitting quietly, not wanting to disturb her, but Aimee was very genial and told me to feel free to ask questions. I’m not shy so I quizzed her on trends in jewelry, how the price of gold was going, and a description of what she was doing at each step of the way. The lady knows her stuff.

Aimee at work

Aimee at work

Piece by piece, Aimee took her photos, examined, weighed, and took lots of notes. There were a couple of small bracelets I wasn’t even going to mention. But she told me to let her take a look. When she was finished, she asked me if I had any other questions. She packed up all of her equipment and said that I’d have the report shortly.

The report

The report arrived in a folder shortly after the appraisal. Each piece had its own page with:

  • A description of the piece
  • One or two photographs
  • An evaluation of the weight of the gold, the clarity of the stone, the amount of wear on the piece, and the overall condition
  • Her appraised value of the piece

A few tips for getting ready for your appraisal

  1. Know how many pieces you have. This sounds easy, but those small bracelets, rings, and pendants add up. And an appraisal that’s scheduled for 6 pieces will be different (and much longer) when you bring 16 out of their boxes.
  2. Assemble all of the paperwork you might have on the pieces. It saves time.
  3. Don’t be shy about asking all of your questions. Any appraiser who is worth their salt shouldn’t hesitate to give clear answers.
  4. Get an estimate for the appraisal. But, going back to tip #1, realize that there’s going to be a difference in price between 6 pieces and 16.

Overall thoughts

It was stunning to see how pieces had risen in valuation over the years. I mean, think about what gold was going for 20 years ago versus today. And those small bracelets that I wasn’t even going to show Aimee? Very, very surprising—much more than I thought they’d be worth.

The best part is, now I know. I can work with my insurance agent and have real backup. The appraisal has brought me peace of mind. And I think I love my jewelry a little bit more now that I realize how valuable it is.

Your appraisal begins when you call to schedule an appointment. Don’t hesitate to call Aimee to set yours up.

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