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Opinions and thoughts regarding jewelry appraisals

What are your opinions, thoughts, etc. regarding jewelry appraisals:

–Do you make your own or have someone else prepare them?

–Are you a member of a professional appraisal organization?

–Are you familiar with the Unified Standards of Professional
Appraisal Practice?

–Are you familiar with any appraisal educational programs?

–Do appraisals generate income for you or do you include them at no

All comments would be appreciated.


--Do you make your own or have someone else prepare them? 
  1. do my own
--Are you a member of a professional appraisal organization? 
  1. no
--Are you familiar with the Unified Standards of Professional
Appraisal Practice? 
  1. yes
--Are you familiar with any appraisal educational programs? 
  1. yes
--Do appraisals generate income for you or do you include them at
no charge? 
  1. generate income


Master Valuer Program is great; I’m about 90% finished. It’s
available in at least two formats: weekly in person at some
locations or via distance education with a week-end seminar for the
hands-on portion.

I enjoy it lot; just wish it were longer!

Best wishes,

Stef - Jewelry appraisals must be done by someone with a recognized,
certificated knowledge of metal and gems. GIA - GG or the British
equivalent FGA would be a start. It requires that the appraiser be
knowledgeable about current pricing in the market for metals, and all
manner of gems, that can identify and grade gems. That can
distinguish natural from synthetic and simulants.

The appraisal requires that the purpose of the appraisal be
specified - retail, wholesale, insurance replacement, auction, estate
etc because the nature of the contemplated value is influenced by the
market for which it is appraised. For example, a forced sale at
auction would usually have a lower value than a retail sale when the
time required to sell would find a willing buyer at market price.

Ethics require that you never appraise your own work. An appraiser
must be independent of influence.

Insurance companies have established a standard form or content of
items to be included in a jewelry appraisal. Such items as detail
description of size, quality, design, manufacturer, all gems graded,
photographs are the beginning of this. For insurance purposes,
appraisals need to be renewed every two years or sooner.

I am a GG, have been trained in jewelry appraisal as well as other
forms. Although I study the market, go to Tucson annually to keep up
on prices, I don’t do appraisals because I don’t see enough objects
annually to meet my personal expectation of expertise.

Appraisals can be a significant source of revenue, but require a
significant effort, both in documentation and research. The charge
for an appraisal should be independent of the value ascertained. The
appraiser must be independent of influence on value so should not
offer to purchase an item for which he/she is the appraiser.

And to repeat - you may not appraise an item which you sell. You may
provide a true bill of sale to the client, and that can include all
the things in an appraisal, but the document must show that you have
an interest in the value, thus it is not independent.

It is unethical to provide a bill of sale which is not the true bill
of sale - i. e. inflated to show higher value than paid. If you
inflate the value on the bill of sale, your client pays a higher rate
for insurance, and if lost or damaged, the insurance company will
provide a replacement at their value, not the bill of sale amount.

Last, from the liability aspect, appraisals have legal meaning and
you need to be very sure that you are right, and that in the event
that you err, that you carry sufficient insurance to maintain your

Verbal appraisals have legal consequences as well.

Judy Hoch

I do a lot of appraisals, approximately 25% of our store income in
2012 was directly or indirectly from appraisals. I get referrals from
insurance agents and agencies as well as from auction houses and even
from other jewelry stores. I also do a bit of insurance replacement
work. Appraisals can be very profitable, but they are not without

There are many misconceptions about appraisals. The first and most
common is that there are requirements that appraisers must meet, such
as they must be a Graduate Gemologist (GG). There are no legal or
licensing requirements, anyone can appraise jewelry. Insurance
carriers often set their own requirements, but there are no minimum
credentials, nor is there any formal certification required by any
law to be a jewelry appraiser. In fact, there is no certification or
licensing available even if one wants to be “certified”. I have one
insurance company that I work with that requires that an appraisal
for any single piece having a retail replacement value of more than
$25,000 be signed by a GG. Most insurers require that the appraiser
be “employed full time in the jewelry business”. Those are the only
"requirements" I have ever run into.

Another related misconception; if someone is a Graduate Gemologist
(GG), they are qualified to do appraisals. A GG is well trained in
gemstone identification and grading, but nothing else if that is
their only qualification. The Graduate Gemologist Course given by the
GIA offers no training in the valuation of in the
construction of jewelry, in the identification or valuation of metals
or craftsmanship, in writing an appraisal, not even a single lesson
on what minimum should be included in an appraisal. There
are groups that are dedicated to the training and qualification of
jewelry appraisers, NAJA (National Association of Jewelry
Appraisers), IJO (Independent Jewelers Organization), AGS (American
Gemological Society) to name a few, but they do not generally get
into the nuts and bolts of gem ID. It requires a lot of independent
study from a lot of different sources to become an accomplished
jewelry appraiser.

Another misconception is that when the seller does the appraisal,
there is a conflict of interest. In these days of heavy branding, who
is more qualified to establish the replacement value of a piece of
jewelry than the person or company that made it or sold it? For an
example, if someone brings me an Elsa Perreti piece from Tiffany and
Co. and I appraise it for what I think it “should” be worth and the
piece is lost, I will most likely be found liable for the difference
should it go to court. It is very common practice for an appraiser to
contact the seller for the replacement valuation whenever there is a
trademarked or branded piece. To not do so is irresponsible. Other
branded items whose replacement values should be verified by
contacting the seller or manufacturer include (but are certainly not
limited to) “Hearts on Fire” diamonds, Rolex, David Yurman, Todd
Reed, anything from Tiffany and Co., Cartier, Bulgari, etc. If it has
a recognizable trademark or stamp, I call the maker or retailer for
the retail value, because if there’s a loss, that’s what the customer
is going to want it replaced with (and more importantly, what they
are entitled to have it replaced with if they are to be "made whole"
under the common insurance phrase). The fact that I or someone else
might be able to make it better and/or cheaper is meaningless and to
appraise anything branded, whether that brand is well-known or not,
with that thought in mind is doing the customer a great disservice
and may also be putting the appraiser at great risk of legal action.

It IS unethical (not to mention illegal) to use an appraisal as a
sales tool or as a way to inflate the sale price to make it appear
that the customer is getting a bargain. That is fraud. But providing
a service for the customer by giving them a complimentary insurance
retail replacement value appraisal at the time of delivery is in no
way a conflict of interest. In fact, it is a service that is pretty
much expected if not outright demanded by most customers. There is
nothing preventing the customer from getting an independent appraisal
if they so desire. A good retailer should always be ready and happy
to refer the customer to an independent appraiser if they want a
second opinion.

The biggest indicator that something is amiss with a seller provided
appraisal is when the appraised retail replacement value and the
purchase price are more than about 10% apart.

That said, an appraisal should only be used for the purpose for
which it is written, i. e. a retail replacement value appraisal for
procuring insurance, estate appraisal for valuation for estate or tax
purposes, fair market value appraisal for resale purposes. Any other
use may constitute fraud, either by the appraiser or by the owner of
the jewelry.

It is also very important to note that an appraisal, like a diamond
grading report, is an opinion. Informed and well documented maybe,
but an opinion nonetheless. An appraisal, just like a diamond grading
report, is NOT a certificate of fact.

Another misunderstanding of the insurance / appraisal relationship
is that if there is a loss, the insured will get a check for the
appraised value. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Retail
Replacement Value listed on an appraisal does only two things and
both favor the insurance company. It sets the insurance company’s
maximum liability in the event of a loss, and it sets the premiums
the insured will pay. That’s it. In the event of a loss, the
insurance company almost always retains the right to find a
"suitable" replacement, or if the insured wants a cash settlement,
they retain the right to pay only the amount it would cost them to
buy a “suitable” replacement. Most of the time, this works out to
around 50 to 60% of the Retail Replacement Value on the appraisal,
unless the appraiser has established and documented that the item is
a branded piece available only from a named retailer or source (e. g.
Elsa Perreti by Tiffany and Co.). If no specific source, artist or
brand is named, the insurance company usually gets to determine what
is a “suitable replacement” and the customer gets a check for the
wholesale replacement cost of the piece if purchased from a vendor of
the insurance company’s choosing. Then the insured can go after the
appraiser for the balance if they find they were underinsured.

This is all governed by insurance company policies and they vary
from company to company. There are very few legal regulations when it
comes to valuing and/or evaluating jewelry. The courts are there to
sort out the contractual details, but it’s the wording of the policy
of the individual company that really rules the day. Read the policy
if there are any questions about coverage.

There is so much more to appraising and insuring jewelry, too much
to really get into here. So Stef, I’ll answer your questions in the
order you asked.

Do you make your own or have someone else prepare them? 

We do them here. We have a full gem lab and are equipped to do
pretty much everything required for a good jewelry appraisal. When I
have something to appraise that I’m not 100% comfortable with
evaluating, or if there is even a hint of the possibility of a
conflict of interest, I call in a friend who is a full time,
non-affiliated jewelry appraiser.

Are you a member of a professional appraisal organization? 

We are members of IJO and are working towards becoming full members
of NAJA.

Are you familiar with the Unified Standards of Professional
Appraisal Practice? 

Yes, but it has no bearing on jewelry appraisals. It was originally
written in response to the savings and loan crisis of the 1980’s and
applies to the appraising of businesses and real property, not
jewelry or other personal assets.

Are you familiar with any appraisal educational programs? 

Yes. There are several, GIA offers courses in gemology, NAJA, AGS
and several other organizations are dedicated to the education of

Do appraisals generate income for you or do you include them at no

Yes they do. We also include appraisals for any item purchased from
us with a purchase price of over $1000. I also offer free updates on
our pieces and half priced updates for appraisals that we did for
pieces not purchased from us.

Hope this helps!
Dave Phelps

Hi Stef,

You have received some good feedback and comments on opinions and
answers to what you wish to know.

And I have classes to offer you. MasterValuerT is a “jewelry
specific” appraisal program.

MasterValuerT Professional Jewelry Appraisal is an International
program with a large following and name recognition throughout the US
and Canada as well as Asia and Europe.

The prerequisite to become earn the designation of RMVP, Registered
MasterValuerT Professional. To earn this, you enroll in the distance
course of 30 lessons and 3 day workshop. Your tutor and be guide
though the course, you will submit some of these lessons as well as a
research paper and final examination. The workshops are held in the
U. S. and Canada. International workshops are held in Korea at this
time. There may be additional locations in the near future.

Or you can take the residence course which is offered at VCC -
Vancouver Community College in Vancouver, BC or USF - University of
South in the fall.

Please contact me and I will send brochure and fees.

All the best, Dee

Stefan I’m curious as to why you are "gathering’ this information

Do you make your own or have someone else prepare them?

both, however I do most of my own including any certificates, etc.
that may accompany a stone and can back up any appraisals with facts
on the raw materials used in a piece and can estimate pretty
accurately the labour and processes that went into anything’s
construction. Are you a member of a professional appraisal
organization? Was, But refuse to pay any annual renewal fee- once
"certified" why would that knowledge change or require an annual fee?
I see anything other than the initial certification or designation
simply a money making grift/graft (both are appropriate and denote
schemes for making money dishonestly). It would be prudent however to
keep oneself abreast of any new developments in the industry and be
able to value it appropriately, or figure it into a valuation.

Are you familiar with the Unified Standards of Professional
Appraisal Practice? 

Yes, quite

Are you familiar with any appraisal educational programs? 

all too well. .

Do appraisals generate income for you or do you include them at no

Both. I do appraisals on estate jewlery and for estates and
individuals occasionally.

New pieces I produce in general, come with an appraisal of value for
insurance purposes when the piece warrants it: a one-off piece of
art jewelry for instance or custom commissioned pieces where the
components each have a value as does the construction. If I’m doing a
fair or festival of some sort and the target market is walk-through
traffic with people that want to spend x amount and I have made
similar pieces in the appropriate price range I have included a card
with the item’s description, materials, etc. but not necessarily a
value (unless it’s a juried show or similar situation where the price
exceeds X amount)

I have often considered offering a certification programme for
jewellery, metals, and gemstone valuations to professional jewelers
and other adjunct professions like insurers, lapidaries and
auctioneers, as well as making it a separate elective component of
the educational programmes I offer. I have full confidence in my
abilities and the wealth of training models and literature I have
from which I can develop a curriculum that could be readily applied
internationally that iwould be congruous/synchronous with similar
grading and valuation programmes. The only thing that has prevented
my going ahead with it, as I would offer it by post as well as in an
on-site situation is assembling the number of samples kits that
would be necessary as well as considerations as to the equipment,
some sensitive, that would have to be circulated so that everyone is
on the same proverbial page. Sure, almost all the equipment necessary
can be made by any individual but since I could not verify its
accuracy how would I deal with those people that claim to have the
skills necessary and tools for verifying calibrations to accompany
"home shop" made equipment for testing- other than the propective
student purchasing their own equipment or using that of an employer.
Mainly, I believe it is knowledge that is not limited to a certain
few that think themselves or their knowledge somehow, more correct
or accurate than anyone elses that has been in the trade or otherwise
a professional that possesses equally advanced knowledge of a given
area that applies universally across borders or oceans and accounts
for trade regulations in countries that could be added on an
individual’s certification as a stamp, much like one would stamp a
passport or similar universally acceptable document that illustrates
one’s level of knowledge in a given area as it pertains to the value
of jewellery or or art jewelry with components that are
non-traditional but otherwise that have value and are collectible.