Take-In Tips, Part III: Client Valuation Home Ask the Expert Brainstorm Stats Site of the Week Consumer Press Scan Your Business On-Line Calendar Staff Site Map

September 1999

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.

Customer Estimate
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.

Unreasonable Demands
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.


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