Professional Jeweler Archive: Who's an Appraiser?

June 2000


Who's an Appraiser?

The points on this checklist will help you tell

Who is doing the appraisals and insurance documentation reports in your business? In the current environment of educated consumers, you probably want to give careful consideration to this question. Lack of formal training leaves the would-be appraiser with little defense in court or with a client who doesn’t care for the value placed on her jewelry.

So who is a jewelry appraiser? Use the following checklist to see who qualifies.

1. The jewelry appraiser can identify gems accurately.
This knowledge is gained through experience and formal training. A strong gemological background enables an appraiser to prove the identity of gems through the use of standard equipment. Most jewelers can differentiate a ruby from a garnet at a glance. But in appraisal science, gem identities must be proven, and proof takes training.

2. The jewelry appraiser can judge the quality of gems.
Gemological training teaches how to grade gems for quality using industry standards. Though experience hones the ability to evaluate quality, starting out with a standardized means of comparison is essential. Writing an appraisal that states diamond quality as “nice” is inappropriate. Nice means different things, but the industry knows what an SI2 clarity H color diamond is all about.

3. The jewelry appraiser has a thorough knowledge of metals, construction and bench techniques.
Jewelry is a marriage of gems and metal. As with gemology, experience is helpful in this area. However, pursuing a formal education that teaches metals technique as well as a vocabulary to describe the technique is invaluable. For example, being able to identify electroforming and explain the process when questioned shows the true expertise required of the appraiser.

4. The jewelry appraiser is a jewelry expert.
Being an expert goes beyond knowing a ring is platinum and has natural sapphires. It means knowing a given piece of jewelry is from the 1920s or the 1960s. An expert recognizes that a necklace marked Castellani or Van Cleef is more valuable than an unmarked similar piece. In short, becoming an expert requires spending a good deal of time, money and often travel learning jewelry history and keeping abreast of jewelry trends.

5. The jewelry appraiser is a market analyst.
The most important aspect of an appraiser’s job is estimating value. Using a price list and multiplying by three is not an accurate means of estimating value. The appraiser uses knowledge of the jewelry market to estimate wholesale costs and retail markups. He or she is familiar with jewelry auction records and with the different levels of the jewelry market. Formal training in this area is required.

6. The jewelry appraiser is ethical.
Performing an appraisal ethically means the appraiser tells the truth and doesn’t mislead anyone with the appraisal. Writing an appraisal for more than the normal selling price is misleading. Appraising a piece of jewelry for less than it’s worth because it was purchased from a competitor is misleading. Stating the quality of the items as better than they are is lying. An appraiser avoids situations that are unethical or lead to the appearance of bias.

7. The appraiser is liable for what’s in an appraisal.
Professionals are confident in their abilities to appraise and never place statements such as “appraiser assumes no liability for this report” in their appraisals. These type of comments show the “appraiser” is not confident of his or her abilities and, thus, shouldn’t be appraising.

Who Is an Appraiser?

An appraiser has a solid base of practical jewelry experience. An appraiser has gemological and metals training as well as formal valuation training. Formal training adds to the appraiser’s credibility when questioned or disputed.

Preferably the appraiser is not in the business of buying and selling jewelry. If the appraiser is affiliated with a retail store, he or she is ethical and truthful and never uses an insurance documentation report to close a sale or gain a sale from competitors.

– 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