Have you ever wondered how the value of jewelry is determined, and who does decides on the actual value? Perhaps you’ve recently come across some vintage pieces (lucky you!) and want to know what they are worth, or you want to know whether the diamonds on your cherished bracelet are, in fact, real. For those who may not be familiar with the concept, the process of determining the value of a piece of jewelry is called jewelry appraisal. Read on to find out how it works and how you can have your pieces valued, too.
How Jewelry Appraisal Works
A jewelry appraisal is often done by - as the name suggest - a jewelry appraiser. A jewelry appraiser is a professional trained to look for certain characteristics such as whether the gems are real, how pure the metal is, and more, to determine the authenticity and value of jewelry pieces. These professionals are not only well-versed in the characteristics of jewelry and the leading brands or makers of both old and new pieces, but they must also keep up to date on information such as 18K gold chain price per gram or the current market value of any other material used in the piece. Expert jewelry appraisers can sometimes do jewelry valuation by sight alone, while others prefer to conduct specialized tests to determine the value of a piece.
Some factors that impact jewelry value include the weight of the item, the material(s) it’s comprised of, as well as any markings that may be on the piece. Once the appraiser inspects every element pertaining to an item, he or she will generally write up an appraisal report detailing his or her findings and assign a value to the piece of jewelry.
While jewelry appraisal is often done for insurance purposes—i.e., to insure truly valuable pieces—it can also be done to determine the market value of an item. In the case of antique jewelry appraisal—where the idea of “market value” often doesn’t make sense—the focus is instead on the replacement value, or what it would cost to replace the item if it were to get lost or damaged.
What to Look for in a Jewelry Appraiser
If you’re looking for local jewelry appraisers in your area, the first place to start is obviously the internet. You’ll want to find someone who is not only well-trained but also certified. And remember that any appraiser worth his or her salt should be ready and willing to share this information upfront with you, whether over the internet or in person.
Another advantage of browsing local jewelry appraisers on the internet is that you can read reviews to see what previous customers thought about their work. Sometimes, you can also find information on pricing such as whether they charge by the hour or follow a different pricing system to determine their rate.
If an internet search isn’t turning up any appraisers in your area (or if you’d rather talk to someone in person, to begin with), you can also try going to a reputable jeweler nearby. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that the store itself has an in-house appraiser, who will be able to answer your questions directly and perhaps even take a look at the piece while you’re there. But even if there are no full-time appraisers around, most tried and trusted jewelers will know someone they can recommend to you. In the very rare situation where there simply are no jewelry appraisers in your area, you may have to mail your piece to someone to get an assessment. In the off chance that that happens, make sure to send your items via either certified or registered mail to ensure their safe delivery.
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How can you tell if the jewelry is vintage?
Thanks to the enduring popularity of vintage jewelry, it’s easy to come across an item that may look old but be brand new. This is why it’s especially important to work with a certified jewelry appraiser who has the right qualifications for vintage jewelry appraisal. Often, the easiest way to determine whether a piece is vintage is to look for markings, or unique letters and symbols used by jewelry makers to identify the piece as theirs, almost like an artist’s signature. Again, it’s important to work with a qualified appraiser with extensive experience to properly read these markings.
Is there an app that can appraise jewelry?
Yes! There are several apps available for both iPhone and Android to determine the value of the jewelry. One of the top-rated apps is called The Jewelry Appraisal Guide (JAG) App, as it is an all-inclusive option. There are also other apps dedicated specifically to diamond appraisals, and others still focus on creating appraisal reports on the go. In addition to apps, there are also tools available on the internet—both free and paid—that make the lives of jewelry appraisers much easier.
How do I know if my costume jewelry is valuable?
Although costume jewelry is, by definition, less valuable than jewelry made using real gems and pricey materials, that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable in its own right. In fact, if you’re talking about antique or vintage costume jewelry, it can even be more valuable—and therefore more expensive—than some modern gold pieces. A surefire way to determine the value of costume jewelry is to look for the jeweler’s markings, as high-quality pieces often include those. It’s also good to pay attention to details: is the paint or lamination chipping off, or is it in good condition? What about the clasp, is it flimsy or made of durable materials? These can be good indicators of costume jewelry’s value.
How do you determine the value of jewelry?
Determining the value of jewelry is something that should be left to professionals, i.e., jewelry appraisers. These trained pros have the right qualifications and experience to inspect jewelry pieces from various angles, including their material, weight, condition, and brand. We strongly recommend inquiring about jewelry appraisers’ certifications prior to trusting your items to them—and no matter what you do, steer clear of pawn shops and similar establishments if you want to get the right market value for your precious jewels.