What is a jewelry appraisal?

Excellent question! I understand that most people are reaching out to me for their first time ever needing a jewelry appraisal, and the idea can seem a little confusing at first. 

A jewelry appraisal starts with an inspection of a piece of jewelry where the stones are identified and graded, the metal type and purity is identified, stone sizes are calculated, and the condition of the piece is evaluated. With this data, the appraiser can assign a value to the piece of jewelry. 

The appraised value is determined by what you plan to do with the appraisal.

Are you looking to get a piece of jewelry, like an engagement ring, insured? If so, you'd want an insurance appraisal that gives you the retail replacement value. The retail replacement value is the dollar amount that it would take to replace your item with an equivalent item at a retail level. This is to ensure that if your item was lost or stolen, you'd have adequate coverage, and information on your piece, to get it remade. This is the most common type of appraisal that I do. 

Are you looking to have items appraised for probate court as part of an estate settlement? If so, you'd want a fair market value appraisal. This starts to get a little technical, but essentially fair market value is a dollar amount that reflects what a similar piece of jewelry has recently sold for on the open market. This reflects more closely what someone is willing to pay for a piece of jewelry, and this number is what the IRS cares about for taxes and probate. This is different than the retail replacement value because retail replacement is a theoretical number calculated to estimate a future cost of replacing something at a retail level, where the fair market value number is calculated based on past recent sales in an open market, mainly public auctions, and those numbers tend to be significantly lower than the retail replacement value. If this distinction seems a little confusing, not to worry, if you need a fair market value appraisal, you'll likely be asked for it by probate court or an estate/tax attorney, you won't need to make the determination yourself. 

Are you looking to sell your item? If so, I'd likely send you to a buyer to get a quote instead of performing an appraisal on your piece. Most professional jewelry buyers don't pay any attention to appraisals written by other people - most appraisals are for the retail replacement value for insurance purposes, which is a significantly higher number than a liquid cash price. When you sell a piece of jewelry to a buyer, you sell it at below wholesale cost because the buyer then puts a small profit margin on it and sells it to a store for wholesale cost, and the retail store puts a larger profit margin on it and sells it to you at a retail cost. I don't want you paying me for an appraisal that won't be helpful for you! My advice is if you're really wanting comfort that you're being offered a fair price for your piece, to get quotes to buy from a few different buyers.  

Are you just wondering if the earrings your grandmother left you are real? If so, we can arrange a verbal evaluation where I can identify gemstones and other qualities on the piece, and if it's high value enough to warrant a full insurance appraisal, we can go from there!