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Your Guide Jewelry Appraisals

Updated: Mar 16

Jewelry maker's table

A jewelry appraisal is where a professional assesses and assigns an estimate of the jewelry’s worth, which can be useful for insurance purposes, reselling, or simply understanding the value of your jewelry.


An appraisal is an appraisement or an opinion regarding an item. In jewelry, this can be broken down (for us) into two categories, Value Services, and Value Related Services.

An example of a Value Related Service would be answering the question “Is this real?” or “What is this stone?” These are evaluation services, where gemological training is used to determine the attributes of an item. It is a more scientific endeavor. We talk about objective facts about the item: it is blue, the refractive index is 1.76, and it is a doubly refractive stone.

These are attributes of the stone in question, and we can use the scientific method to come up with a hypothesis. With the right amount of time and the appropriate equipment, most people with similar training will arrive at the same answer/conclusion.

Value Services are more subjective: they are opinions. We take facts in evidence, “this is a sapphire” and then look at the marketplace to see what like items sell for. Fine gems and jewelry are often not fungible, meaning they are not rolled off an assembly line with identical attributes. Different markets will look at the same item differently, so it may be worth more or less depending.

So, this is why valuation training is so important. You cannot just look at a custom-made piece of jewelry and act like it is a mass-produced item. There are nuances.

This is where there can be issues for appraisers who just have evaluation training (such as the Graduate Diamonds, Colored Stones, or the Full Graduate Gemologist diploma from GIA) who do not have Valuation Training. They can almost certainly tell you what a thing is, but then they have to put a value number on the item, and they tend to just simply put a value based on what the store they work at would charge.

There are different types of value-related appraisals. For Consumer Insurance needs, the most common two types are COST ESTIMATES and MARKET VALUE.

Man inspecting a diamond

A market value appraisal (the Market Data Approach) is based on researching comparable jewelry items AS IS and comparing it to the appropriate market for these items AS IS, and determining what the appraiser thinks that a buyer would pay. So, this wording is important, because many retail jewelers believe that what they would LIST an item is an indication of what the item is worth, but that is not correct… it is what the buyer ACTUALLY pays. Forming an opinion of the interaction between buyer and seller is where the work for the appraiser takes place, and this opinion of value is based on a combination of research and knowledge of the market.

This market value is what is often asked for by consumer insurance providers.

A Cost Estimate (or “the cost approach”) is another common appraisal technique. A cost estimate is an opinion of what the buyer will pay when a jeweler must “put out a call,” or go

out into the market and FIND the item. This is often placing a special order for an item, or having a similar item made for the client. These are often higher asking prices, and for good logical reasons!

If you walk into a store, and they have an item, you can often negotiate a better deal… but if you MUST have a specific item, and only one or two people have the item, you are going to have to pay what they are asking for it. So, if you need to have something replaced in new, or like new condition, this can sometimes be the right way to come up with a value.

Display of gold jewelry


There are MANY different types of appraisal reports. The typical Cost Estimate to Replace for Insurance Report or a Retail Market Value Appraisal Report AS-IS are just the two most common types of appraisal reports that Graham can write for our clients.

Graham can also write for a variety of other needs, and for other markets (besides the typical secondary or retail markets). So, if you have an appraisal need and you are having trouble finding someone who can write the report, chances are good that either Graham can write it for you, or he can refer you to a specialist within my appraisal society (Appraisers International Society).

Graham Newton Jeweler, GIA GD, AiSCV, AVS-GJV. His email is

For general questions or information, email

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