What You Need to Know About Jewelry Appraisals

Here at Zillion, we’re passionate about everything related to jewelry—with additional enthusiasm applied to jewelry insurance. And when it comes to jewelry insurance, there’s one closely related topic that doesn’t often get the attention it truly deserves:

Jewelry appraisals.

Chances are, you know a bit about jewelry appraisals. You may understand that the jewelry appraisal process isn’t exactly complicated—but it can be a good bit confusing. Perhaps you’ve also heard that jewelry appraisal costs can vary, sometimes even wildly.

Yes, it’s true. Not all jewelry appraisals are created equal. But remember, jewelry appraisals for insurance are a must-have—across the board. Let’s take a closer look at the jewelry appraisals ins-and-outs now.

The Jewelry Appraisal Process: How It Works

Just what is a jewelry appraisal, exactly? How does the jewelry appraisal process typically work? Put simply, the jewelry appraisal process involves a certified professional examining your diamond engagement ring–or any other piece of valuable, valued jewelry you might be looking to evaluate and insure–to officially ascertain its current market value. Appraisals deliver the required proof of a jewelry piece’s value and features, helping kick-start the jewelry insurance process. In fact, many insurance companies unflinchingly require jewelry appraisal documents before they’ll proceed with a quote and/or policy issuance.

When examining your diamond engagement ring or other valuable jewelry piece, the appraising jeweler will take note of several factors and particulars that will be included in the written jewelry appraisal. These factors can include:

  • Measurements of the jewelry piece
  • Design details and particulars
  • Overall quality and condition of the piece
  • Defining characteristics of included gemstones (cut, color, carat weight, clarity, etc.)
  • Setting particulars and parameters 

Jewelry Appraisal Types: As Easy as 1-2-3

Remember when we said that not all jewelry appraisals are created equal? There’s actually three distinct types of jewelry appraisals, and you should develop at least a working knowledge of these jewelry appraisal types before seeking out an appraisal for your piece or pieces.

Replacement Value Appraisal: The Top Option

The most common of these three jewelry appraisal types is the replacement value appraisal. Since it determines and officially records the retail replacement value of your jewelry piece (meaning the cost to replace your piece if it is lost or destroyed), the replacement value appraisal is vital to any successful jewelry insurance process. It’s important to note that the retail replacement value of your diamond engagement ring or other jewelry piece is not the same as its resale value. Since it details how much it would cost for you to purchase a replacement piece, it holds a higher (at times much higher) market value than what you would be expected to receive if you decided to sell your jewelry to an interested buyer.

Fair Market Value Appraisal: Resale Value Assessment

If it is an accurate resale value you’re looking to determine for your prized piece or pieces of jewelry, you’ll want to request a fair market value appraisal from your jeweler. This jewelry appraisal determines the realistic and fair sales price to set if you opt to sell your jewelry (and we hate to hear of this happening, especially when it comes to a diamond engagement ring). Keep in mind, however, that a fair market value appraisal is not an exact value. And again, remember that it will feature a lower estimate than the replacement value appraisal.

Liquidation Appraisal: Immediate Resale Valuation

Maybe you’ve decided to liquidate your assets, and you’re in need of accurate resale values for your liquidation items, including your jewelry. If so, it’s a liquidation appraisal that you’re in the market for. This type of jewelry appraisal will determine approximately how much money you can expect to receive for an immediate resale. As a result, expect that sales price to be lower (probably a good bit lower) than the fair market value jewelry appraisal.

Jewelry Appraisal Costs: More Variables…and Rules of Thumb (or Ring Finger)

OK, so what should any or all of these types of jewelry appraisals cost you? Once again, there are several variables that come into play when it comes to jewelry appraisal costs. The cost of an official jewelry appraisal typically depends on the complexity of the jewelry that’s up for appraisal. For example, a four-stone diamond engagement ring will always incur a higher jewelry appraisal cost than a basic wedding band, simply because there’s more time, energy, and focus needed to completely assess the piece and its value. However, as a general rule of thumb (or ring finger), you should expect to pay between $50 and $150 per hour for a jewelry appraisal—meaning the typical jewelry appraisal cost average is right around $100 per hour. Remember, a complete appraisal will encompass work such as:

  • Laboratory work needed to inspect and collect information about the jewelry
  • Market research required to compare similar, comparable pieces
  • Detailed writing of the official appraisal

One thing to keep in mind here: appraisal fees should never, ever be based on a percentage of your jewelry piece’s overall value. In fact, this is considered a violation of jewelry appraiser ethics, since the appraiser would be making more money by “over-valuing” a piece…leaving incentive to over-inflate. Any jewelry appraisal cost should be calculated and tabulated at either a set, flat fee—or by-the-hour, based on the appraiser’s fixed hourly rate.

Finding the Right Jewelry Appraiser: Qualifications and Expectations

At this point, you might be starting to think this is all a bit more complicated and confusing than you expected the world of jewelry appraisals to be. There’s really no need to worry, however. With just a bit of homework and advanced intel by your side, you’ll be good to go—including making the right call when it comes to the who and where of jewelry appraisals (now that we’ve covered the what, when, and why).

For starters, make sure to check the jewelry appraisal and gemological qualifications of potential jewelry appraisers in your area. Most recognized appraisers will list their particular and specific qualifications on their website. Be sure to look for an appraisal training qualification from a recognized jewelry appraisal institution such as the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA) and the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). Many of these associations will also provide a registry of their qualified appraisers on their websites. The American Gem Society (AGS) offers a helpful jewelry appraiser search engine.

The minimum qualification for an appraiser? A gemological degree from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). If you’re looking at a potential jewelry appraiser and you don’t see official GIA accreditation and certification? Find another jewelry appraiser!

It’s also wise to take a few moments to conduct some online research before selecting a jewelry appraiser to move forward with. Use Google (both the search engine and Google Customer Reviews) and online review sites like TrustPilot and Yelp to track down some advanced intel, and visit social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The more positive online reviews you can find on a local jewelry appraiser, the better.

Jewelry Insurance Matters Too

Once you’ve conducted all your research and received an official jewelry appraisal from a reputable, accredited local appraiser, you’ll be ready to secure the peace of mind that comes with a smart, strong jewelry insurance policy.

Once you reach this point, you might be tempted to insure your engagement ring or other valued piece or pieces on your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Here at Zillion, we’d advise you to think twice about making this move. Then take a moment and think it through a third time. Simply put, your homeowners or renters insurance policy doesn’t come close to matching dedicated jewelry insurance.

For maximum protection, security, confidence, and efficiency, you should invest in dedicated jewelry insurance for your treasured (and fully appraised) jewelry pieces. And just as we suggested you do a little digging online to find customer reviews of local jewelry appraisal providers, we encourage you to read some of the online Zillion reviews. We’re confident that you’ll like what you find here—and even more confident that an affordable, easy-to-activate, easier-to-use jewelry insurance policy from Zillion will empower you to wear it with confidence.

Once you’re ready, just visit our homepage to get your fast, free, custom quote now!

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Zillion partners with jewelers to offer their customers lower rates on jewelery insurance. If you don’t see your jeweler on our list, we’re sorry, we won’t be able to offer you a quote for insurance.