Jewelry Insurance

Do I need an appraisal to get jewelry insurance?

Yes, you absolutely should have your engagement ring and any other fine jewelry appraised. Here’s why.

An appraisal documents the value and key details of a piece. It doesn’t matter how you got the piece – whether you are buying an engagement ring and popping the question, making a jewelry purchase for yourself or someone else, or you’re inheriting a piece of jewelry, like a diamond bracelet. No matter what the scenario, if you are giving or getting a valuable piece of jewelry, you need to know its value. Buying a piece of jewelry without an appraisal is like buying a pre-owned vehicle without a Carfax report to certify the overall condition, mileage, and service history of the car you’re buying. Without one, do you really know what you’re getting? That’s why jewelry appraisals matter. You simply need proper documentation on your jewelry, which for many people is among their biggest purchases, after cars and homes.

Why is it important to get a jewelry appraisal?

We get asked this question a lot at BriteCo. The short answer is that 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. Descriptions 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 are done subjectively and can vary from appraiser to appraiser depending on specific grading and assessment. Jewelry appraisals are not diamond reports or gemstone reports. A diamond laboratory certificate from GIA is not the same thing as an appraisal.

There are several reasons why it makes sense to have your jewelry appraised:

  1. You want to have a jeweler make sure your newly purchased ring, necklace, bracelet, etc. is in prime condition. If your item is not evaluated and appraised properly, you may risk it becoming damaged or lost due to a loose prong or other defect not immediately obvious to someone who isn’t professionally trained.
  2. It’s not expensive to get an appraisal! Most jewelers charge anywhere from $75-$125 for an appraisal. This cost is absolutely justified when you compare it  to the value of your jewelry piece.
  3. Documenting the true value of your diamond engagement ring and other pieces of  jewelry can help you avoid disputes about the value of those pieces down the road if you ever need to make an insurance claim.  If it’s a new purchase, getting an appraisal can be an additional way to validate your ownership.
  4. If you ever lose or damage your piece of jewelry, you will need a detailed description of it so that your jeweler will be able to get or create a replacement that is as close to the original as possible. Imagine losing an item, not having proper documentation, and your jeweler telling you there’s not enough information to properly replace your jewelry. With a good appraisal, the jeweler would have the details they need to replace the piece.
  5. Insurance! Most insurance companies require an appraisal to insure your jewelry. If your insurance company doesn’t need an appraisal, I would encourage you to look for a new insurance company. When you know the specific details of the piece of jewelry and its appraised value, you will get an accurate insurance quote. Otherwise you could end up underinsuring the piece and risking out of pocket costs to replace it, or you could overpay for insurance (year after year) if the appraisal has an inflated value.

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 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. I like to think of this as how much an item would sell for on ebay or for 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 cases, yes! Appraisals are generally required (or extremely preferred) to get a piece of jewelry insured. 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, just ask. Not only is it good for your record keeping, it’s also extremely important to have if you were to lose the item. It may not seem like a big deal upfront but having a detailed document if an item is lost can be incredibly helpful. We recommend getting an appraisal for any new purchase and certainly for anything over $1,000. An 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.

At BriteCo, we require an appraisal for several reasons. First and foremost, we verify (on your behalf) that all of the information is accurate and accounted for. Secondly, we want to make sure that you’re completely covered in the event of a loss. Third, it’s really important to give you an accurate insurance quote for a jewelry policy, and to do that, an appraisal is necessary. At BriteCo, we work directly with your jeweler to completely streamline the appraisal and insurance process. This way, you get all the complete and accurate information you need in your appraisal, and your insurance quote is exactly the right amount based on the appraised value, so you won’t have to spend any extra time or money. You can learn more about BriteCo’s super-convenient process in our “engagement ring insurance just got a whole lot faster and easier” blog.

Be very wary of any insurance company that will write you a policy without getting an appraisal and validating that the information is correct. It may seem easy on the front end but could end disastrously when a claim occurs.

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 Van Cleef & Arples estate necklace. There are a variety of wholesale resources available to appraisers that help guide them in determining value. For some items, appraisers will look at recent auction results from companies such as Sotheby’s.

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 then a one carat marquise shaped diamond. Appraisers will also measure and approximate gemstone weights with 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 an 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 may also play a huge part.
  • Craftsmanship, labor, and markup. Appraisers will also look at things such as where a piece was manufactured and how well that item 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 huge amount of online resources available to appraisers that can help them assess and value your jewelry.

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 most BriteCo insurance policies is that we automatically update your insurance replacement value based on market fluctuations.

How much does a jewelry appraisal cost?

A jewelry appraisal can cost anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on the appraiser. In general, the average price of a jewelry appraisal is $75-$100. Some appraisers charge a flat rate per piece, while others will discount if you have numerous items needing to be appraised. This may be especially helpful if you have a large estate you’re valuing. In rare cases you may find an appraiser charging per hour, but we don’t necessarily recommend this. It’s more difficult to figure out what your cost will be, up front. It’s a big red flag if a jeweler can’t be transparent and upfront with you.

Does it matter where I get my appraisal done?

Yes, who does your appraisal is very important. Your best bet is to find a trusted local jeweler with the skills and experience to properly appraise your item. The good news is that there are many qualified jewelers in communities all over the country.  If you need a recommendation, just shoot us a message at www.brite.co and we’ll be happy to connect you with one of our trusted retail jeweler partners.

So there you have it! We absolutely recommend getting an appraisal on any piece of fine jewelry. Whether it’s your grandma’s brooch, an engagement ring, or a simple pair of diamond stud earrings, it’s worth spending a little extra to gain lasting peace of mind.

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 do 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 have the longer it could take.
  • How complicated and intricate are the items. A solitaire engagement ring is an entirely different time commitment then 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. Ask your jeweler when the best time is to bring in your items. This could significantly cut down on the time frame.

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

A BriteCo insurance policy is approximately 1-2% of the jewelry’s value. BriteCo policies have no deductibles with comprehensive worldwide coverage. You can learn more about BriteCo insurance here.

How accurate are jewelry appraisals?

If you have your jewelry appraised by a reputable jeweler an appraisal should be extremely accurate. Historically, appraisals have been grossly inflated, but industry ethics and evaluation methods have greatly improved. Appraisers used to inflate valuations upwards of 100% but good appraisers don’t inflate values today. BriteCo appraisers, specifically, have incredible tools at their fingertips to be pinpoint accurate with appraisal valuations. The BriteCo system helps 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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BriteCo LLC is a licensed insurance agency in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.
Please see the Licenses section of this website for more information. All insurance policies underwritten and issued by Glencar Insurance Company and administered by BriteCo.