These are six questions that will give you a good idea of the qualifications and experience of the professional jewelry appraiser.
- Is the jewelry appraiser a Gemologist or Fellow of the Gemological Institute of Great Britain (“F.G.A.”)? These credentials are educational minimums in the field of gem sciences. Gemologist will know how to properly identify and grade diamonds and colored stones.
- Has the jewelry appraiser completed formal training and has been formally tested in appraising/valuation by a recognized appraisal organization, such as American Society of Appraisers?
- Does the jewelry appraiser follow the Uniform Standard of Professional Appraisal Practice? Although appraisers of personal property, such as fine jewelry, are not required to follow the same federal rules for appraisers who appraise Real Estate, the larger appraisal organizations such as USPAP feel this is important enough to require their members to follow these rules.
- Is the jewelry appraiser a full time Appraiser, or does the Appraiser work in a jewelry store and occasionally do appraisals. A good jewelry appraiser will have extensive background in all aspects of the jewelry business.
- Does the jewelry appraiser have references? Ask for references, especially from other professionals such as banks, trust companies, and attorneys who have used and are familiar with the appraiser’s professional work.
- How does the appraiser charge? The fee for a professional appraisal should only be on an hourly rate or a piece rate based on time and complexity, and never a percentage of the value of the item appraised.
So, you’ve decided to go ahead and have your fine jewelry appraised by a professional. Here are a few tips that should help in the process:
- Give the jewelry appraiser copies of any documentation you have relative to the jewelry, such as original receipts and previous appraisals.
- Expect to pay a flat fee for the appraisal. The fee will depend upon the complexity of the project, but you can expect that it will be more than $70.
- You might be tempted by online companies that offer free or cheap appraisals. Online appraisals are only good for real property items that can be certified through photographs or receipts and descriptions. Even online appraisers admit that jewelry items of colored stones and diamonds require a more hands on approach. Any item such as fine jewelry, requiring certification or testing to prove identity or authenticity, can’t be appraised online.
- Verify with your insurance company how often they require an appraisal in order for the insurance to remain valid. It is your responsibility to provide your insurance company with the required appraisals, and not their responsibility to remind you to update the appraisals.
The professional appraiser
Working within the jewelry industry by buying and selling jewelry does not make one an appraiser, nor should appraising be treated as an inalienable right that comes with the job. Appraising is a profession, just as a doctor, lawyer, or CPA, where one must be educated and tested. Unfortunately, as of today, there is no overseeing body to administer government testing and licensing (just like dentistry before the American Dental Association was formed), therefore, anyone can hold himself or herself out as a personal appraiser. BEWARE! It is up to you to separate the “quacks” from the professionals.
A professional appraiser will have a high level of education backed with a high level of experience and product knowledge. A professional will have taken and passed courses and prescribed examinations in evaluation and valuation, principles and business practices, appraisal ethics, standards and report writing. This type of professional will also keep up with the standards and changes through rigorous continuing education. Membership held within a professional appraisal organization is a good indicator of the appraisers’ commitment to their clients.
However, please keep in mind that not all organizations are equal! Not all organizations requirements are at par with the levels and standards that are all too important today. First, you must ask the appraiser how their designations are earned. Some organizations give titles for just paying their dues! Ask them what their level of membership is within the organization and what it took for them to earn that level of membership. You will also want to ask how often they have to retest to maintain their level of membership and what the testing involves. Some organizations “grandfather” their members. Grandfathering means that they pass one test and never have to be retested. This is not acceptable an organization must retest its members at least every five years to ensure that they stay current and up to date in regards to changes within the profession.