By Jerry Linscheid
Some pieces of jewelry are priceless, like that macaroni necklace your kindergartener made for you. Sentimental value is real, but it is hard to quantify.
I recently spoke with a gemologist I know well, Liz Linscheid. While watching kids play in the park, our conversation drifted to jewelry appraisals. What follows is the gist of our conversation between telling the kids to be careful.
You have a ring that you think might be valuable, so you take it to a jeweler to get it appraised. One of the first questions you should ask the appraiser is “Are you a certified gemologist?” Assuming the answer is “yes,” you can continue. If not, do some more research to find a jeweler with a gemologist on staff. “Why,” you might ask, “is using a gemologist important?” A gemologist is trained to determine:
- the type of gemstone,
- whether it is a natural gemstone, lab created, or treated to improve the appearance of a stone,
- its weight, cut, color and clarity.
They will also provide a detailed analysis of each gem as well as an appraisal of the metal in the ring.
One of the first questions the appraiser will ask you is “What is the purpose of the appraisal?” There are at least three types of appraisals and they may go by different names. An insurance or replacement cost appraisal will give the highest value. This is what it would cost to buy an identical piece of jewelry from a retail jeweler or have it made from scratch. If you have a piece that you intend to keep for a long time, this is the type of appraisal to get. If you schedule the ring on your homeowner policy, your insurance company will ask for this appraisal and a high- quality photo for their records.
The next lower level of appraisal might be called estate value. This can be thought of as similar to the wholesale value of the ring. When jewelry is part of an estate and the family is trying to divide the estate fairly, this valuation would be close to the amount you could sell the ring on the open market.
The lowest level of appraisal would be liquidation or scrap value. This would be the value of the gems not in a setting and the weight of the metal in the ring. You would be able to pawn the ring for something close to this appraisal.
What is the cost of an appraisal? It depends on how complicated the piece of jewelry is and the level of the appraisal. Does the jewelry have many gems or different kinds of gems? An average appraisal cost for replacement value could be around $250. The appraisal should itemize each significant gem.
How often to reappraise? A rule of thumb has been every 5 years. However, the price of gold has fluctuated a lot recently (i.e. gone up in price). Every 3 years is not too often in these situations. If you take your jewelry to the same gemologist, the costs for reappraisals can be less than the original.
Generally, there are limits on jewelry coverage under your homeowners insurance policy. If you wonder if you have enough coverage, please contact our office at 559-638-2327 or email us at [email protected].
So, if that macaroni necklace becomes water damaged, we can try to send instructions and photos to help your child to recreate it. You could help others by posting a picture of your macaroni necklace on our Facebook page at MennoniteInsurance.