Questions (FAQs)


What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is a typed document containing information about specific item(s) of jewelry. A thorough appraisal should include a detailed description including number of stones, type of stones, measurements of all stones, color grade, clarity, cutting and color description in terms of hue, tone and intensity for colored gems. The appraisal should also detail the setting to include type of metal, Karat, width, thickness, how the setting is made (cast, hand-made, CAD) any stampings or logos and any designer information. The appraisal report should finish with a picture detailed enough to allow replacement of the item should it become lost or stolen.

Why do I need an appraisal?

An appraisal can be done for many reasons. The most common needs are to have jewelry insured or to work with jewelry items in an estate.

In order for an item of jewelry to be covered on your home owners (or renters) insurance policy, your agent will need an appraisal.  Providing your insurance agent with a thorough, accurate, detailed appraisal will allow replacement of your lost or stolen item without hassles or complications.  An appraisal done for insurance purposes should be updated every seven to ten years to ensure the value placed on your item is current in the marketplace.  Too often a client finds that a twelve year old appraisal value does not allow coverage adequate enough to pay for a replacement if the jewelry were lost today. 

For estate planning purposes it is wise to have detailed appraisals on your jewelry items.  This will allow you to plan for either an equitable division of your pieces, or an understanding of the value of items comprising your estate.

What if I don't want to insure my jewelry?

A jewelry appraisal is still recommended.   Most insurance policies have an automatic coverage amount for theft or fire.  In case of a loss due to one of these events, you could file a claim if you knew the specifics about your jewelry.  An appraisal would provide this information.  Also, you may decide to donate a jewelry item to a charity or a charitable event.  An appraisal for the jewelry would allow you an accurate value for tax purposes.  Having specific information on an item of your jewelry is always a good idea! 

How long does it take to do an appraisal?

The length of time it takes to appraise an item of jewelry can vary greatly depending on the intricacy of the piece.  For an example let's compare a diamond solitaire ring and an antique Art Deco diamond fancy ring. 

 A diamond solitaire takes approximately an hour to appraise.  Appraisal time would be comprised of approximately twenty minutes to evaluate the diamond-measuring, grading color, examining under magnification for clarity, analyzing for cutting description and inspecting the setting.  Approximately twenty minutes of time would be used for preparing the documentation, including photographing and inserting pictures into the body of the appraisal.  The final twenty minutes would be dedicated to analyzing the market and researching values of comparable items to calculate a value for your specific items of jewelry. 

Appraising an antique Art Deco diamond fancy ring could take anywhere from two to four hours.  The physical inspection, counting, measuring and evaluating each diamond could take from one hour to several hours depending on the number of stones.   Preparation time would be lengthened due to numerous descriptions needed to accurately describe all stones and research time may be extended depending on the rarity and comparable items currently available on the market.  

What should a well done appraisal include?

Using the example of a diamond solitaire ring, an appraisal should include diameter measurements on the diamond (for example 6.53 ? 6.62 x 4.04 mm) a color grade, one specific clarity grade and a description of cutting (both shape, facet layout, table percentage and girdle description). The appraisal should document both the specifics of the mounting and the condition.  A color photo should accompany each item and the picture should be clear enough to show details.  If a logo or trademark is present on the jewelry a full description should also be included in the appraisal.  

If any of the gemstones or diamonds have grading report, those reports should be notated and a copy should become part of the appraisal documentation.

The basic process of an appraisal can be broken down as follows:

  • Evaluate the stone
    • Diameter measurements (ex.: 6.53 - 6.62 x 4.04 mm)
    • Grade color
    • Microscopic examination for clarity (maybe at what level of magnification?)
    • Analyze the stone for cutting description
  • Inspect the setting
  • Preparation of appraisal documentation
    • Including photographing the piece and inserting the photos into the final documents
  • Market research to calculate the value for your specific item of jewelry

What do you mean by 'clarity'?

Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called 'inclusions' and external characteristics called 'blemishes.'

Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value.

How do you determine a diamond's color?

The diamond color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA's D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones stones of established color value.

What will the appraisal cost?

Costs will vary depending upon the intricacy of the jewelry item(s) being appraised and time needed to do an accurate appraisal. 

Please call Chevalier & Marks at (757) 753-9885 to discuss the rates for your specific items of jewelry.