An appraisal is a qualified opinion as to the authenticity, quality, design and value of a piece of jewelry, precious gem or time piece.  This opinion should be professionally constructed and presented in a written document which will be used by the purchaser of the appraisal to be submitted to an insurance company for protection against theft, loss and damage.  Besides an Insurance Replacement Appraisal – which is the most common – there are other types of appraisals e.g. Estate Distribution Appraisal, Hypothetical Appraisal, Liquidation Appraisal, Investment Appraisal, etc. 

The American Gem Society (AGS) believes a dependable appraisal service may best be provided by “experienced appraisers who are trained in both gemology and valuation theory, are of proven integrity, and who maintain the highest standards of professionalism and adhere to the jewelry industry’s most comprehensive Code of Ethics, a code that includes the Standards set forth by the American Gem Society”.

Not every jeweler is a qualified appraiser.  As a matter of fact – most of jewelers are not.  To be a qualified appraiser one would have to undergo training and education in gemology and valuation theory that takes time, experience and the obligation to renew his(her) certificates on an annual basis.  Although most insurance companies do not require an appraisal to be conducted by a qualified appraiser – it is highly recommended for the consumer to seek the services of a highly trained and experienced Gemologist/Appraiser.

That said – the consumer should know that besides the declared price evaluation there are other very important aspects in the making of an appraisal like the explicit description of the jewelry, accurately depicting the design, the metal and the precious gems.  If appraising estate jewelry pieces – the appraiser should be familiar with period jewelry evaluation and styles.  Lastly, besides the credentials and the experience of the appraiser – an accredited Gem Lab should be in place to re-enforce all of the above.

By: Dr. Peter Stavrianidis*, Ph.D., MBA, GG, CGA

*Dr. Stavrianidis is a Graduate Gemologist (GG) with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), a Certified Gemologist Appraiser with the American Gem Society (AGS), an accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) and the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA)