There are really three questions here:
- Why should I have my jewelry appraised?
- Who should do my appraisal?
- How much does insurance cost?
Should you have an appraisal?
There are several reasons that our clients come in for appraisals. The most common one is to obtain insurance for the item. Insurance companies usually require that you have a current certified appraisal (not older than one year) at the time of your application. Our custom jewelry, engagement rings, wedding bands, even stock pieces from our cases are always eligible for free certified appraisals. Just let us know that you would like one.
Many Fort Lauderdale jewelers will do a description of your item and call it a “Certified Appraisal”. The best appraisals, however (as we do them here), will include a description of the item, the metal from which your item is made (14K, 18K platinum etc. This often requires testing in our laboratory to determine), the shape and number of stones, the quality and estimated weight of those stones, the weight of the entire item, any stampings on the item, and, finally, a replacement value. This value represents what we are certain you would have to spend, at retail, to replace the item with an identical or very similar piece. At Matthew’s we also include multiple color photographs of your jewelry, give you two sets of appraisal documents and even laminate your set to withstand the elements. Your appraisal is signed by two experienced professionals and is always performed on our premise. We appraise watches, too. Most appraisals are done in one to two business days. Yes, you will have to leave your item(s). We clean them thoroughly so we can clearly evaluate them. Should you ever need to identify your item our appraisals will provide all of the information you will need to do so.
We also are asked to do appraisals to settle estates. And we are sometimes asked to do a liquidation value appraisal. This is often requested because our client wants to sell a piece and wants assurance that the person to whom they are selling is offering them a fair price.
I also encourage my clients to have an appraisal on their most valuable items even if they don’t insure them. If they lose the piece they may then be able to write off the item on their taxes as a “casualty loss”. You’ll need to check this with your accountant.
Who should do the appraisal for you?
The quality of an appraisal is, for the most part, a question of the experience and education of the appraiser. At Matthew’s, your appraisal is reviewed by not one, but TWO Gemological Institute of America (GIA) graduates. And no one has less than twenty years of experience as a jewelry professional! Most have far more experience. In fact, we have a following of attorneys who use us as expert witness in court proceedings. We highly recommend that whoever you choose they be a graduate of GIA, The American Gem Society (AGS) or the American Society of Appraisers.
How much does jewelry insurance cost?
Keep in mind – we don’t, and cannot, sell insurance and we are not insurance agents. However, as a quick guideline, the price of insurance in Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale, for a zero deductible policy (no out-of-pocket if a loss occurs) is about 1.65% of the appraised value, per year, for items with a value of $15,000 or less and about 2.1% for items over $15,000. This type of policy typically covers loss, destruction, theft and even repairs for your jewelry. Let’s look at an example. If your appraisal is for $5,000 (the “Retail replacement value”) your annual insurance premium would be just $82.50. If you lose even a small side diamond or need a prong replaced, your policy covers the repair. And you have the peace-of-mind of knowing that if lose your item or if it is stolen or destroyed – you get a new one.
I hope this answers many questions for you. But if you have any more, feel free to call or e-mail me!