Professional Jeweler Archive: Take-In Procedures for Appraisals

April 2000


Take-In Procedures for Appraisals

Gathering the right information at the start can avert problems later

How many times has a customer picked up his appraisal only to inform you he needed it for estate instead of insurance purposes? The words “you idiot” may have figured prominently in his assessment of your appraisal abilities. In reality, the problem was in your take-in procedure, not your appraisal.

Take-in has to be done carefully whether for repair or appraisal, but appraisals have special needs. Use the following checklist to prevent misunderstandings on take-ins for appraisals.

1. Record the Customer’s Name and Address

Make sure the name is legible and that the customer checks it for accuracy and spelling. You don’t want to give Joe Smith an appraisal for Jim Small simply because the take-in information was illegible. And print, don’t write.

2. A Staff Member Should Fill Out the Take-In Form

If you let the customer fill out the form and it’s illegible, you’ll have to make a tactful phone call (if you can decipher the number) to get the information again.

3. Ask How the Appraisal Will Be Used

Appraisals for insurance, charitable donation and estate tax each reflect different values and contain different wording. An estate appraisal is not appropriate for use in obtaining insurance, for example. If you don’t know how the appraisal will be used, you risk looking unprofessional. This is important also in case you don’t perform certain types of appraisals.

4. Identify Materials Before the Customer Leaves

Check the stones and metal in the jewelry while the customer is still in the store. If you have to call later to say that sapphire is synthetic, the customer may accuse you of switching it. And if jewelry proves to be made of synthetic stones and base metal, it’s in your best interest to explain the item may not merit the cost of an appraisal. Customers won’t want to pay $65 for an appraisal of a ring valued at $50.

5. Explain Your Appraisal Fees Up front

Many customers believe you can take a simple glance at jewelry and magically assign a value. In their eyes, this type of service should be free. It’s your job to explain that in a professional appraisal, stones are graded, weights are estimated, photographs are taken and research is conducted. This takes time and time isn’t free. If you explain your hourly or per-piece rate and quote a price during the take-in process, you’ll avoid having a surprised and angry customer later.

6. Identify Problem Appraisals

Is the appraisal connected to any legal action – or likelihood of legal action? If you want to do this type of appraisal, be sure your customer understands your fees for any time you spend in court. But before you decide to do the appraisal, get as many details as possible about the lawsuit. For example, it may not be in your best interest to appraise jewelry sold by your biggest competitor if it’s involved in a lawsuit. Your ability to testify fairly about a competitor will be questioned.

– By Julie Nash, G.J.G., A.M., and Arthur Skuratowicz, G.J.G., N.J.A.

Julie Nash, G.J.G., A.M., and Arthur Skuratowicz, G.J.G., N.J.A., operate Anton Nash LLC, Independent Jewelry Appraisers and Consultants, Colorado Springs, CO.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications