Professional Jeweler Archive: Could You Pick This Ring Out of a Line-Up?

May 2000


Could You Pick This Ring Out of a Line-Up?

Your appraisal should include a picture and 1,000 words

We’ve all faced the customer who walks into the store, appraisal in hand, with a sad story of a home burglary. She shows you the appraisal and asks for help in replacing the stolen jewelry. You read the appraisal descriptions and can’t picture what a single item looks like. Sound familiar?

Descriptions on jewelry appraisals, or lack of, are a leading cause of customer dissatisfaction with appraisers. An appraisal is supposed to document the materials, quality, condition and appearance of an item. This documentation is the foundation on which you estimate the value.

Detail is what constitutes a stellar description. Here is a checklist and some examples to help you write a truly complete and useful description for your appraisals.

What is it? Example: Women’s 18k white gold and diamond engagement ring.

Specify the metal. Example: 18 karat white gold.

Identify markings on the metal as they actually appear. Example: 18K, 750.

Describe construction. Example: Die-struck head soldered to cast shank.

Identify the manufacturer or artisan if possible. Example: Custom-designed and manufactured by Joe Smith of Anytown, USA.

State the dimensions and weight. Example: Ring is 5mm wide and 3mm thick and weighs 3.2dwt.

Identify the number and type of stones. Diamonds over half a carat and some colored gems merit a plot and a complete description of cut. The cut description should include proportions and finish details. Be sure to note clarity and color grades and any treatment. Use an accepted color grading system for colored gemstones.

State the style in which the stones are set. Example: Diamond is set in a six-prong white gold peg head.

Identify the finish. Example: The prongs are high-polished and the shank is sandblasted.

Document the condition. Example: The diamond is loose and the shank is cracked in two places.

Document the quality of workmanship. Example: Poor, the diamond is set crookedly; excessive solder is visible.

Describe the design and identify the historical period of the jewelry. Example: Contemporary-style engagement ring with a tapered shank. The shank is domed and sandblasted. The center stone is set in a six-prong head at the top center of the ring.

Photograph it!

Complete descriptions take a little more time than the one-liners of the past. But your customers will thank you if they ever have to use your description to replace their jewelry. Remember, write a description that will easily allow a piece of jewelry to be picked out of a line-up.

– 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.

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