First things first.
There should be no difference between a "jewelry appraisal for insurance" and any other type of jewelry appraisal.
All too often, jewelers hear, "I don't want to pay a lot for an appraisal. I only need it to get my jewelry insured."
Shelling out your hard-earned cash for something intangible, that you will hopefully never use, is never fun. However, there is no point in paying for your insurance if it will leave you hanging when you actually need it - all because you didn't want to pay more than the minimum to get an accurate, thorough appraisal.
The Importance of Jewelry Appraisals for Insurance
Any time you insure something, you need proof of the item's value and characteristics in order to replace it, whether with a same kind and quality equivalent or cash.
In the case of jewelry, if you have an inaccurate appraisal, you may not recover enough funds from an insurance claim to actually replace your piece at fair market prices.
If you have an incomplete appraisal, what you know to be your cherished jewelry may not be how the insurer interprets the brief description of your piece.
Either way, you can wind up without an equal replacement for the jewelry you've been paying premiums to insure year after year. Kind of defeats the purpose, right?
Typical Jewelry Appraisal Costs
Now that you understand the importance of an accurate, thorough appraisal, let's discuss the fees associated with such.
Start with the structure of the fee. Appraisal fees should never be based on a percentage of the jewelry's value. This is an ethical violation since the appraiser will make more money by valuing a piece higher, leaving incentive to over-inflate. Appraisal services should always be charged by the hour or a flat fee per piece.
Hourly rates typically range from $50 to $150, depending on the complexity of the jewelry. A simple wedding band will always cost less than a three-stone engagement ring; there's simply more to appraise with the latter.
A thorough appraisal will include:
- laboratory work to inspect and gather facts about the piece
- market research to compare like pieces
- writing of the appraisal
The most important factor when seeking an accurate, reputable appraisal is the credentials of the appraiser. Check American Gem Society, the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers or Gemological Institute of America for a list of qualified appraisers.