Jewelry Insurance

Do I need an appraisal to get jewelry insurance?

By Conor Redmond, BriteCo Chief Insurance Officer
December 7th, 2020

Yes, you absolutely should have your engagement ring and any other fine jewelry appraised. Keep reading to learn the answers to…

Why is it important to get your jewelry appraised?

We get asked this question a lot at BriteCo. The short answer is that there are many reasons why it’s beneficial to get a jewelry appraisal, yet the main reason comes down to the valuation of the piece. A jewelry appraisal is a specific document that describes the characteristics of a piece of jewelry with an approximate value assigned to it. The appraisal value can vary depending on what type of appraisal is being conducted, which we will get into later in this article.

Appraisals usually include verifiable and measurable characteristics of the piece of jewelry. Typically, you will see things such as gemstone grades, diamond grades, diamond color, diamond clarity, metal type, jewelry styles, and other important facts. Appraisals for fine jewelry are done subjectively and can vary from appraiser to appraiser depending on specific grading and assessment. However, it’s important to keep in mind that jewelry appraisal documents are not the same as a diamond or gemstone report, like a GIA diamond laboratory certificate.

White label appraisal example

What are the different types of appraisals?

  1. Insurance Replacement Appraisal

    The most common type of appraisal is a document that’s valued for insurance replacement. Most jewelry appraisals are conducted for insurance purposes, and this is generally what you’ll be getting if you were to walk into a jewelry store and ask for an appraisal. This is also referred to as a retail replacement value and it’s based on how much it would cost to replace the piece of jewelry (brand new). A replacement value reflects the price you would pay if you were to walk into a store and ask a jewelry associate to sell you the exact same item that you currently have.

  2. Fair Market Value Appraisal

    A fair market appraisal reflects a value in which your item would sell for under normal market conditions. In other words, how much a willing buyer and a willing seller would agree on. It also helps to think of this as how much your item would sell for on eBay or at an auction. It represents a true market value, not a new replacement value.

  3. Estate Value Appraisal

    An estate value appraisal reflects a liquidation value or an immediate sale value. These types of appraisals are generally used for divorce settlements and estate settlements. This will certainly carry the lowest value benchmark of all three appraisal types.

I have some old paperwork, is that important?

Bring any old appraisals, paperwork, laboratory certificates, or other supporting documents with you when you’re getting your jewelry appraised. It may contain helpful nuggets and clues that can assist the appraiser in a thorough evaluation.

Do I need a jewelry appraisal to get insurance?

In most situations, jewelry appraisals are generally required (or extremely preferred) for insuring your jewelry. Even if an appraisal is not required, we still recommend requesting one from your jeweler or the store in which you purchased the item from. Most retailers will provide you with a complementary appraisal when you make a purchase.

If you don’t receive an appraisal when you make a purchase, then just ask! Not only is it good for your record keeping, it’s also extremely important to have an appraisal ready to go in the event you lose the item. It may not seem like a big deal upfront but having a detailed document if an item, like jewelry, is lost can be incredibly helpful. We recommend getting an appraisal for any new purchases, like an engagement ring, and certainly for anything over $1,000.

A jewelry appraisal is also helpful if you have a piece of jewelry and are unsure of the value. For example, a piece of jewelry can be a family heirloom and you don’t always know what you have.

Want to learn more? Check out our blog to learn more about why BriteCo requires a jewelry appraisal or get started today with a FREE jewelry insurance quote!

How does an appraiser determine insurance replacement value?

An appraiser looks at a variety of different elements when they’re establishing a value for an appraisal. Most importantly, the appraiser will look at market comps for price indications. Jewelers and appraisers can find comps for almost any item that’s sold today, whether it be a lab grown diamond or a beautiful estate necklace.

Here are some of the most important things an appraiser will consider when assessing your item:

  • The quality and weight of the diamonds and gemstones

    A piece of jewelry can vary greatly in value based on the 4 C’s – color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Certainly, a three carat round brilliant cut diamond will be valued differently than a one carat marquise shaped diamond. Appraisers will also measure and approximate gemstone weights using a millimeter gauge and other gemological tools.

  • The provenance and brand of an item

    A vintage Harry Winston necklace or a Cartier diamond ring are going to have a huge premium compared to something similar that doesn’t carry a brand name. This is certainly something a jewelry appraiser must consider. An appraiser will look at things such as stamps and markings to help identify the brand. The age and condition of an item can also play a huge part in the valuation.

  • Craftsmanship, labor, and markup

    Appraisers will also look at things such as where the jewelry was manufactured and how well it was made. Some pieces of jewelry contain time intensive elements such as hand engraving, specialized stone settings, and other important elements.

  • Market comparable items

    There are a variety of wholesale resources available to jewelry appraisers that help guide them in determining a piece’s value. For some items, appraisers will look at recent fine jewelry auction results from companies like Sotheby’s.

How often should I get a piece of jewelry reappraised?

Our general recommendation is having your jewelry reappraised every 3 years. Not only is it important to keep up to date documentation but it’s also a great opportunity to have your jewelry checked and cleaned. You never know when a prong can break or a stone can chip. Performing regular maintenance on your jewelry or engagement ring will keep it looking fabulous for years to come.

Generally, insurance companies need updated appraisals to keep your insurance replacement value current. One huge benefit of BriteCo’s A+ rated jewelry insurance policies is that we automatically update your insurance replacement value based on market fluctuations.

How much does it cost to get a jewelry appraisal?

Depending on the appraiser you choose to work with, a jewelry appraisal can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 with the average price falling between $75-$100.

Does it matter where I get my appraisal done?

Yes, who you choose for your appraisal is very important. We typically recommend working with a trusted local jeweler but contact us today and we’ll be happy to connect you with one of our trusted retail jeweler partners!

In progress jewelry appraisal with jeweler on a laptop

How long does a jewelry appraisal take?

There are many factors that determine how long it will take to get your jewelry appraised. In general, it takes about 7-10 days to get a proper appraisal. The jeweler or appraiser needs to do quite a few things before creating the appraisal document. The appraiser needs to clean your item, grade the diamonds and gemstones, measure and approximate gemstone weights, photograph the jewelry, and test stones and metal. The appraiser may also need to conduct extensive research to verify certain characteristics of the piece.

Here are some other factors that could determine how long it could take:

  • How many items you have that need appraising

    The more items you, the longer the appraisal could take.

  • How complicated and intricate are the items.

    A solitaire engagement ring is an entirely different time commitment versus a 200-year-old vintage diamond, sapphire, and emerald opera necklace.

  • How busy the jeweler is

    We always recommend appraising your items during an off time of year. For example, it’s probably not the best idea to bring your jewelry in for appraising during the Christmas season. Therefore, asking your jewelry ahead of time when the best time to bring in your items is could significantly cut down on the time frame.

Once I have an appraisal, how much is jewelry insurance going to cost?

A BriteCo insurance policy is approximately 1-2% of the jewelry’s value, plus there’s no deductibles with comprehensive worldwide coverage.

How accurate are jewelry appraisals?

If you have your jewelry appraised by a reputable jeweler, then your appraisal should be extremely accurate. Historically, jewelry appraisals have been grossly inflated, but industry ethics and evaluation methods have greatly improved. Jewelers using BriteCo’s appraisal software, specifically, have incredible tools at their fingertips to pinpoint accurate appraisal valuations. Our jewelry appraisal system works by providing valuation recommendations using hundreds of thousands of real-time market data pricing points.

How do I find an appraiser near me?

BriteCo works with thousands of jewelers and appraisers across the country. Just reach out to us and ask for a recommendation – we’re happy to help.

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About the Author

Conor Redmond, FCAS, MAAA, is the Chief Insurance Officer for BriteCo and a fully credentialed actuary with over 8 years' experience in the property and casualty insurance industry. Conor most recently served as the research director for Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, providing valuable actuarial insights and support for the organization’s nearly 1,000 members.
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