Jewellery store appraisals?

I saw the assessment of that 1.33 carat ring that I wrote about a
few days ago! It was written by a jewellery store owner, he wasn’t
even licensed to write that appraisal! I thought that the owner would
write more details than just a few ‘iddy-biddy’ numbers. I feel that
the owner totally misrepresented the clients wishes of a decent
interpretation of that great VVS1-2 stone.

The assessment was in the $55,000 bracket for a 1.33 ct. stone. If
it’s worth that amount…prove it! No details of the weight of the
yellow ring, very few measurements of the width of the stone. No ‘cut
or make’ to testify to the quality of the diamond. Now my
friend/agent can now see what is missing! As this is a ‘closing of an
estate’, I told him to tell his aunts that they won’t see the $55,000
as they expected. He told me he will not get involved any further on
this matter, pity! He even went further as to where they could get
some money for this ring? I told him the only place would now might
be is a pawn-shop! Sad state of affairs for that family.

Gerry Lewy

seems to me the owners of the jewelry would be better served if they
were advised to have a qualified appraiser perform the appropriate
valuation, rather than recommend that “…the only place would now
might be is a pawn-shop!”

I saw the assessment of that 1.33 carat ring that I wrote about a
few days ago! It was written by a jewellery store owner, he wasn't
even licensed to write that appraisal! 

Actually, in the US there is no such thing as a license to appraise
jewelry. There are very few governmental regulations concerning
insurance replacement appraisals, other than it is unlawful to use
one as a sales tool or as a means of committing fraud. Some insurance
companies require that a GG (someone who has earned a Graduate
Gemologist diploma from the GIA) sign off on any single item valued
at over $25,000, but from my experience, even that’s rare.

Just for what it’s worth, a GG diploma means that the individual has
met certain requirements concerning their ability to identify and
grade That’s it. There are no lessons about mountings,
craftsmanship or metals. There is not a single word in the entire
course about how to determine value. Someone with a GG diploma can
tell you all about crystal structure and aventurescense, dichroism
and birefringence, but unless they have specific appraisal valuation
training given by some other group like NAJA (National Association of
Jewelry Appraisers) or AGS (American Gemological Society) or another
similar group, or they have many years of jewelry experience, they
are no more qualified to assign a value on a jewelry replacement
appraisal than anyone else.

friend/agent can now see what is missing! As this is a 'closing of
an estate', I told him to tell his aunts that they won't see the
$55,000 as they expected. 

You’re right, Gerry. They probably won’t see much over one tenth of
that for that stone. There are three basic types of jewelry
appraisals. Insurance replacement value, estate value (which should
have the exact date for which the value was determined, usually the
date of death of the owner) and fair market value (which should have
an expiration date, usually one month from the date of the
appraisal). The text in these appraisals will be more or less the
same, but the values will be different. In many, if not most cases, a
lot different.

The value assigned on an insurance replacement appraisal has only
two purposes and they are both intended for use only by the insurance
company. The first is to set the premiums that the insured will have
to pay, usually based on a percentage of the appraised value. The
other purpose is to set the maximum liability of the insurance
company in the event of loss or damage. Those are the only legitimate
uses of the value listed on an insurance replacement jewelry

Using an insurance appraisal to determine market value is like using
the monthly payment sticker on the window of a new car to determine a
fair selling price for a five year old car. They are totally
unrelated and are arrived at using completely different criteria.
That’s why it is illegal for anyone to use an insurance replacement
value appraisal for any purpose other than procuring replacement
insurance. If the dollar amount on a replacement value appraisal is
even mentioned during a sales presentation, even if it’s between two
next door neighbors neither of which is in the business, the seller
has probably violated the law.

While the appraisal you quoted is not rich in detail Gerry, it
really isn’t all that bad, except for the value of $55,000 (there’s
gotta be something more to that story). I’ve seen much worse. I’m
working on an insurance replacement of a lost diamond right now with
an appraisal that makes that one look pretty good. How about this -
"Lady’s ring, 14K yellow gold set with two round diamonds - $5000."
Signed by a “professional independent appraiser"with"GG” after his
name no less. At least the one you’re talking about gives a color
range, clarity range, measurements and carat weight of the most
valuable part of the piece.

I think you might be being a little bit hard on the insurance guy
(in your first post anyway), he’s an expert in insurance products and
in helping people figure out what type of coverage they need, not in
evaluating jewelry or the quality of jewelry appraisals. I think he
could be afraid that it might be considered a conflict of interest
for him to get involved in the liquidation of assets, especially if
the selling price is to be determined in any way by the insurance
coverage his firm wrote. That’s not really his job and if anyone
wanted to get ugly about it later on, he could be in real trouble if
that $55,000 figure is ever mentioned to a potential buyer. He may
not know much about jewelry and appraisals, but I’ll bet he’s aware
of that little pothole.

For anyone that wants to be more informed about appraisals, I would
recommend consulting NAJA or finding a NAJA member appraiser. There
are so many misconceptions that people have about appraisals, it’s a
little bit frightening. What’s most frightening is the number of
people in the jewelry trade that are really misinformed about the
whole appraisal business.

Dave Phelps

I did advise the customer & his family to seek out a 'certified’
appraiser. But personally, I felt that my request fell upon totally
deaf ears.

“I can lead them to the water, but I can’t make them drink!” He
asked for my advice, but he just didn’t want to hear me!!!

Gerry Lewy

I did advise the customer & his family to seek out a 'certified'
appraiser. But personally, I felt that my request fell upon
totally deaf ears. 

That might have been because he knows that there is no such thing as
a certified appraiser. There is no single governmental or industry
body that sets standards that an appraiser or an appraisal must meet.
There is no licensing or certification process for either individuals
or businesses.

Even if someone wants to become “certified”, there’s nobody to get
certified by. An insurance company or legal firm representing an
estate might have their own minimum standards, but other than that,
anybody that wants to can lawfully write appraisals.

That’s why the US government wrote a law that says using an
insurance replacement appraisal as a sales tool or as a statement of
actual value for the sale of jewelry by any person can be a form of
consumer fraud and therefore can be a punishable crime. Claiming
"certification" as an appraiser also constitutes consumer fraud.
Because there is no such thing.

Any more than there is a ‘certified diamond setter’ anywhere in the

I’ve heard of people claiming that one too. “Our diamonds are cut
and set only by certified cutters and setters…” Really? Certified
by whom? Talk about whoppers people tell to make a sale.

Next time someone asks, recommend an AGS (American Gemological
Society) retail jewelry store or a NAJA (National Association of
Jewelry Appraisers) member appraiser. These are two of several
professional trade organizations that are dedicated to jewelry
appraisal training. In order for a retail jewelry store or an
individual to gain admission into either one of these organizations,
they have to meet certain standards. Among those are training in
valuation as well as gemology. The minimum standard for entry in
either organization is a GG diploma, five years as an established
brick-and-mortar jewelry business (AGS only, it’s a minimum time in
the trade requirement for NAJA individual membership) and a
submission of sample appraisals plus a few other things. They both
offer and require annual concurrent training for continued
membership. The AGS also requires that a pretty extensive gemological
lab is set up on the premises. That’s as close to certification as
one is going to get in the US.

Dave Phelps

Hi Dave and all!

After reading your long essay on what is called “certified”. Let me
just say up here in Canada it is a tad different.

My favourite appraiser has the following titles.

Gertified Gemmologist F.C.GM.A
C.G.A Certified Appraiser.
H.R.D Diamond Grader.
G.I.A appraiser

All of these bear witness that she knows exactly what she is
writing, or talking about.

She also has credentials & diplomas that she has taken courses from
other schools, too many to mention. Yes, I do read them! I just
wouldn’t go to anyone else who is just a ‘diamond-grader’ with no
other qualifications.
There are too many of ‘them’ around this

Even for being a jeweller in a trade shop, no certification is used,

For being a setter, all he or she has to know is to do the job as
best as they can. In my own estimation, diplomas on setting or making
jewellery is just a misnomer. This is not fraud, but it doesn’t mean
tiddly to me. "Sit down at the bench, and show me what you can do!"
Anyone can print up a piece of paper from ‘a school’ and use it

But does it mean that they are what they think they are? Hardly! We
have certified auto-mechanics, plumbers, dentist, electricians,
draftsmen, designers, & ad infinitum. For this busy trade, nothing
for the ‘bench-workers’, a real darn pity! I feel if a person (male or
female) can do a job with precision, what does a piece of paper prove
to me? They are only wallpaper! I scrutinize every appraisal form and
even a piece of fine crafted jewellery. This to me, is my way of
thinking they ARE GOOD.

My 2 Cad-designers don’t not need diplomas, but they have answered
many questions I had for them with superior results! Let’s keep on
with this topic. everyone please keep well.

Gerry Lewy

Well, I might disagree a little. As a GG, I know very well that there
is a Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, which was
created in the 1980s. There IS a group, the National Association of
Jewelry Appraisers, that attempts to maintain qualification and
standards for appraisers. It IS up to the person requesting or
inquiring into an appraisal, to make sure that the person appraising
is qualified and is up to date on the standards. And, although I know
that having a GG doesn’t necessarily insure that you are qualified to
appraise jewelry, I can tell you that a substantial amountof time is
given to learning and understanding the necessary conditions ofa
stone that qualify it in the various value catagories and how that is
used to achieve a final appraisal.


In the US you can find an accredited appraiser, essentially an
appraiser that was trained in more than just gem id and grading. I
would recommend the ASA Home and
the NAJA (National Association of Jewelry Appraisers)
Home — National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA) The NAJA has a great
conference in Tucson directly before the AGTA show. They have
jewelry specific presenters. Worth every penny if you can
participate. Even non appraiser learn. We try to cover multiple
bases with our appraisal firm having NAJA, ASA and AGS trained
appraisers. We stay with ASA and NAJA as they stick with appraising
specifically. AGSis a great association, we did belong and were but
a few of their ICGAs (Independent Certified Gemologist Appraisers)
but they tend to gravitate moreto retail ethics than appraisal
standards. They do set the standard for retail ethics and I would
hope they let me rejoin if I was to go back to retail (even after
this post). But appraising is not always about delivering
complementary news. We inspect, We evaluatequality, workmanship and
condition. We then research the appropriate market then assign a
document-able and supportable opinion of value based on intended
use, limiting conditions and a comparable market. An appraisal needs
that methodological approach to hold up in court and be ethically
viable. I think of jewelry appraisal as a 4 legged stool. Three may
work but when the four legs are balanced they are very stable. Leg
one: Gemology with an emphasis on grading, not just diamonds. Leg
two: Jewelry manufacturing skills or a competentunderstanding of
them. Again an emphasis on judging good (or bad) workmanship. Leg
three: Valuation Principals, that is how to research and find an
appropriate market and document your results. Essentially don’t
price compare a Cartier solitaire to a price-point Zales promotional
solitaire. Use like markets. Especially important with studio,
Gallery or Art jewelry as their value and appeal may be judged
differently then the latest promotion from Kay’s Jewelers. Leg Four:
represents the legalities and accountability of an appraiser to
follow laws and guideline that apply to them. Yes in the US we do
not license personal property appraisers, but they are still
responsible for following laws on documenting their data (5 years
required on written or verbal appraisals, up to 7 years if they go
to court) as well as their due diligence in actually researching the
appropriate market. Any one leg should not be stronger than the
other. That leaves a weak one that can topple the stool. sorry about
being wordy, but sometimes I feel theneed to stand on a soap box and
preach. I hope this helps. Arthur Skuratowicz

P.S. We do include appraisal inspection and pricing skills (weekly
if not daily) throughout our 6 month gemology program. Since we also
teach manufacturing and repair we can easily incorporate those
principle into our program.

Arthur Anton Skuratowicz GJG (GIA)"

There is such a thing as a certified appraiser.

The American Gem Registry, LLC. is Colorado’s premier full service,
gemological laboratory and jewelry appraisal service. We are
Denver’s only AGS Independent Certified Gemologist Appraiser. We
support both buyers and sellers of diamonds, gemstones andjewelry by
supplying independent, accurate and USEFUL

Richard Hart G. G.
Denver, Co.

Hello Gerry,

Can you give me your email address? Want to get some info from you
off line.

I met you at the jewelers bench conference in Buffalo

Thanks, Roger