5 Things to Know Before Getting a Jewelry Appraisal

Get an accurate and credible appraisal, without getting scammed or disappointed

What is My Jewelry Worth

Are you considering getting a jewelry appraisal to find out what your collection is worth?

Maybe you recently divorced and need to know the value of your engagement ring or wedding band. Maybe you’re planning your estate and want your assets divided fairly among your family members. Or maybe you need an appraisal for insurance or tax reporting purposes.

There are many different reasons for getting a jewelry appraisal, but whatever your reason, it’s important to be armed with some basic facts before you get started.

Here are Seth’s top 5 tips to help you get the most from your jewelry appraisal.

1. Know Your Reason for Getting a Jewelry Appraisal

This might seem obvious, but the the reason you need to know the value of your jewelry will greatly affect the appraisal you receive.

  • Insurance
    Whenever you insure a piece of jewelry, you need proof of its value in order to replace it with cash or an item of equivalent value. Without an accurate appraisal, you may not recover enough funds from an insurance claim to actually replace your piece.
  • Tax Purposes
    Whether donating jewelry to charity or declaring your assets after divorce or inheritance, the IRS requires that your jewelry be appraised at Fair Market Value, which is the amount for which the jewelry would change hands in its present condition on the current market, between a willing buyer and seller, and with no compulsion to buy or sell.
  • Dividing Assets
    In the case of a deceased estate or divorce, appraisals are important in helping families divide jewelry fairly. To obtain relative equality, the value of jewelry should be stated in dollar value so that no matter how many pieces are given to one person over another, the total cash value can be equal.
  • Ready to Sell
    Last but not least, perhaps your jewelry is gathering dust and you want to reduce your insurance costs, or just want to free up some cash.

2. Know the Different Types of Appraisals

Now that you’re clear on your reason, it’s important thing to ensure is that you pick the right type of appraisal for your needs.

  • Insurance Appraisal (Retail Replacement Value)
    The most common appraisals are for insurance purposes, and the value you receive is called the Retail Replacement Value, which represents the amount of money that would be required to replace the items with something of similar age, quality, appearance, etc. on the current market. The Retail Replacement Value does not represent the actual market value of your items.
  • Resale Appraisal (Fair Market Value)
    A Resale Appraisal will provide you with a Fair Market Value, or the price you would receive if you sold your jewelry in the current resale market. It takes into account the condition of the jewelry, and is meant to give the seller a feel for how much they could get from a willing buyer. Fair Market Value will always be significantly lower than the Retail Replacement Value, even as low as 1/3 to 1/4 of the original retail price. More often than not, an expert jewelry buyer will have a more accurate idea of Fair Market Value than a jewelry appraiser.
  • Liquidation Appraisal
    A Liquidation Appraisal is best if you need to quickly liquidate jewelry, whether due to a divorce or estate liquidation. These appraisals are usually significantly lower, reflecting the immediate need to sell.

3. Know What to Look for in a Jewelry Appraiser

Considering that your appraisal may be used in legal situations, you need to be sure that it will hold credibility with the relevant authorities. This is why you need to ask the following questions to be sure you’re working with a credible appraiser:

Asking all these questions will help you decide whether or not the appraiser educated, experienced, and trustworthy.

4. Know What to Expect from an Appraisal

  • Provide Your Jewelry Details
    First, you’ll provide the appraiser with detailed information about your jewelry, including when and where you purchased/received it, the type of metal and gemstones it contains, and the reason for the appraisal. You should also share any documentation you may have, including the retail price, purchase receipts, certificates of authenticity, lab reports etc.
  • Evaluation
    Next, the appraiser will evaluate the jewelry based on a few key factors, including metal composition, weight, measurements, karats of gemstones, and any other documentation you provide.
  • Decision
    Finally, you will receive the results in a written report, which should a description of how the appraiser arrived at the final appraisal.

5. Know to Pay for an Appraisal

Because appraisers work independently, there is no pricing standard.

  • Their fee can be based on their expertise, education, and certifications. An appraiser with more education and certifications can charge more because of their vast subject matter knowledge.
  • Their fee can be based the size of the piece. An appraiser may tier their fee based on the size of the center diamond or gemstone.
  • They may charge a flat fee or per hour. More experienced appraisers tend to be able to set flat rates more easily, especially for complicated pieces.
  • Their fee should NOT be based on a percentage. Charging a percentage of the value of the item is unethical as it can create a desire to appraise the item at a higher value.


If you’re in need of a jewelry appraisal, knowing the how to find the right appraiser, choosing the right appraisal for your needs, and understanding the entire appraisal process will ensure that your needs are met. If your jewelry gets lost or stolen, you may be glad you invested your time and energy into an accurate appraisal.

That said, if you’re getting an appraisal just to sell your jewelry, it may not be worth the cost since it typically won’t influence what a professional buyer or broker is willing to pay. Seth has handled thousands of pieces of jewelry, and provides fair market valuations as complimentary service, with no obligation to sell.