Whether you have a beautiful family heirloom or have just received a priceless engagement ring, it is important to make sure that your jewelry is protected and to think about having an appraisal done. However, appraisals are not all created equal and it is important to know what to ask for when having your jewelry evaluated.
There are different reasons that jewelry is appraised and insured and they can sometimes result in widely different values – it is thus very important to know the right questions to ask before when having your jewelry evaluated. This article will break down the subtle differences and help you decide how to best protect your beautiful jewelry pieces.
Gemstone and Jewelry Insurance
The first reason that people have their jewelry appraised is to include it in their insurance policy to cover it in case of theft, loss, or breakage. This is the most common reason people have their jewelry appraised. It is important to discuss the coverage with your insurance company and let your appraiser know if this is what you intend to use the document for – The appraiser will then know the value given will be used as a replacement value, should something happen to the article and insurance must be called upon to replace the piece.
Jewelry insurance will typically cover a lost or damaged item (such as a broken center gemstone). Not typically covered is general wear and tear on an item. Be sure to refer to your insurance company and policy for your specific coverage. Some companies will group this small item coverage onto a homeowners or renters policy, while others will have a separate personal property policy. It is wise to ask around and see what the cost and coverage benefits are for the companies in your area. Do you already have homeowners or car insurance? If so, check with companies you already have a relationship with to establish if they offer incentive rates for expanding your coverage to gemstones and jewelry. It is always a good idea to get quotes and compare.
Another item to consider with insurance is the event of replacement should the need arise. If you have had a custom piece made, it will likely be difficult to have another jewelry store replace the custom piece at the same cost as the original store that made the item. Consider a clause in your contract that stipulates who, in the event of a loss and replacement, will be first called upon to replicate the item, since some custom jewelers have very specific skills.
Estate Jewelry Appraisals
The second most common reason people have jewelry appraised is for estate purposes. In this case, the appraiser will determine what is a fair market value for the piece in question. This is because, with an estate, gemstone and jewelry items are being considered as part of the “pie” that is being divided along with monetary assets, to those mentioned in the will/estate.
Tips on Insuring Gemstones and Jewelry
- Check your appraiser’s credentials and certifications. For extensive projects, feel free to ask for references. The American Gemological Society provides this helpful list of items to help choose an appraiser. Jewelers Mutual is a company that can also provide you with a quote.
- Be prepared to pay for the service of having an appraisal done. Some jewelers will provide them free of charge with the purchase of a piece, but more often than not, you should expect to pay anywhere from $60-$150 for an appraisal. The charge should always be either an hourly or a “per piece” rate. As such estimating jewelry values in an estate comprised of many pieces is also a service that you should expect to pay for. For estate pieces, this can involve a great deal of work on the part of the appraiser as they have to not only consider recreation costs, but also historical significance and rarity.
- It is important to retain any records of value for jewelry pieces. This includes receipts, past insurance documentation, or appraisals. This not only helps to verify any new appraisals, but also will give added weight to provenance.
- Even if your jewelry is insured, you should still strive to store it in a secure location. Keeping your jewelry in a safe or a hidden secure location is recommended. Consider keeping your gemstone and jewelry insurance documents in a separate location, like a safe deposit box, where they aren’t stored in conjunction with the jewelry they are describing.
- Check with your appraiser and your insurer for guidelines on how often to have your appraisals updated. Your insurance company can also offer guidance as to what certifications they require for appraisers. Do they require photographs? Is that a service that your appraiser provides?
- Just as your appraisal will need to be updated, check with your insurance company for how often they would like you to have your jewelry item checked. In a thorough clean and check, a jeweler will take the piece in for a few days to clean it, ensure there are no current structural problems and check it for other potential issues. Your insurance company would rather your jewelry piece be in good repair instead of have you call them after you’ve lost a diamond because you didn’t realize all the prongs were about to break.
Your jewelry is special and should be protected as much as possible. Be sure to speak with your insurance company and find an appraiser that meets their criteria and one that you trust. A trusted appraiser is a valuable asset.
Have you had experience with dividing an estate and having to have estate appraisals done for jewelry? Or perhaps you were unsure about what to ask for to include your jewelry on your insurance policy. We’d love to hear your stories!
* Remember, by law, only an insurance agent can speak to you specifically about your insurance policy and coverage. This article is offered only as an aid in understanding different particulars in this topic. It is important to read your contract and make sure you understand what your particular coverage provides.