For Your Staff: Repair Counter
Take-In Tips, Part III: Client Valuation
Be careful when offering a wild guess at jewelry value
during take-in. You could be held responsible later
'Client valuation" is the monetary value written on take-in
forms. This is also the dollar amount you may be held responsible
for in the case of loss or damage to the jewelry, so be careful.
Allow the customer to estimate the value of the piece, but don't
get caught with an inflated sentimental value.
When you ask a customer to estimate the dollar value of the jewelry
being taken in, the inevitable retort is "you should know."
But there's a problem with you offering an off-the-cuff dollar
value. In our increasingly litigious society, you can be held
legally responsible for your estimate. As any seasoned appraiser
has learned, many first impressions of value can be highly inflated
or grossly low when valuation research is conducted.
Obviously, there isn't enough time during take-in to do a
full-blown appraisal on the jewelry being left, but a reasonable
value estimate is still necessary. So don't rush into blurting
out something; the information may be obtained in other ways.
Helping the Customer
Many customers may know immediately what they paid for their
jewelry. Others will require guidance. To offer this guidance,
you must have a clear understanding of the identity of the jewelry.
Once an identification has been made, you may be able to show
the customer a similar item from stock for value comparison.
If the item was bought in your store, you can find the original
price in your customer files. Keeping accurate and accessible
records proves its worth in this day-to-day situation.
For a number of reasons, the customer may insist on an unreasonably
high value estimate. Many people simply don't know the true identity
of their jewelry. Then the customer's misidentification can lead
to an inflated valuation. For example, a customer who believes
his or her synthetic ruby to be natural is almost guaranteed
to greatly overvalue the piece. The customer may be mistaken
also about the identity of the metal.
A good identification and communication between jeweler and
customer usually overcomes this problem.
Also realize many people equate sentimental value with monetary
value. Some items can never be replaced. These realities should
be discussed so the customer can make an educated decision whether
to have the jewelry repaired. If the customer is truly unable
to understand that his or her estimate of value is inflated and
insists on that amount, you may want to decline the repair. No
jeweler wants to be held responsible to the tune of thousands
of dollars if an inexpensive synthetic gem is damaged accidentally.
| Sometimes the customer isn't always right,
as in this piece of jewelry with glass imitations of turquoise
and marcasite set in a white base metal. The customer believed
the piece to be a valuable example of Victorian silver jewelry
set with Persian turquoise and diamonds. Careful identification
proved the piece to be an inexpensive imitation. The glass cabochons
have a noticeably high luster and lack the undercut dark matrix
common in natural turquoise.
by Arthur skuratowicz, G.G., & Julie Nash, G.G.
Arthur Skuratowicz, G.G., and Julie Nash, G.G., operate Anton
Nash LLC, an independent jewelry appraisal and consulting company
in Colorado Springs, CO.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.