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How and where to get jewelry appraised

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A jewelry appraisal is a statement of value that spells out the worth of your item. The person doing the appraisal — the appraiser — does a thorough inspection of your jewelry to determine the value.

A jewelry appraisal is useful for insurance purposes, estate planning and other legal matters, as well as to satisfy your own curiosity.

However, many people misuse the term jewelry appraisal and apply it to other, related documents.

For example, there is a big difference between a certified jewelry appraisal and a jewelry grading, also known as a lab report or jewelry certification.

Also, there is a big difference between a certified jewelry appraisal and a jewelry evaluation — even though these terms are often used interchangeably.

If you want to sell your jewelry for the most money and get a free lab report, go to Worthy now >>

Still have questions about jewelry appraisals or what your jewelry is worth? Keep reading:

Types of jewelry appraisals

Fair market value appraisals

Per the IRS and U.S. Department of Treasury, a fair market value appraisal of a piece of jewelry is the same as for any other asset (real estate, vehicle, etc.) — it is a reasonable sum you can expect to fetch should you sell your jewelry on the open market. A fair market value of a diamond engagement ring recently purchased is what the retail market value of that same ring would be should any member of the general public buy that same ring at retail — not on resale, wholesale or used jewelry market.

An appraisal from a jeweler is typically is for insurance replacement purposes, which would be akin to fair market value. If you were to replace your old Rolex watch today, should it be lost, stolen or destroyed in a house fire, what would a similarly positioned new Rolex cost at a store today?

However, if you have a used piece of jewelry, you likely cannot sell it for a retail value, but in most cases, for the secondary value of the stone and metal — about 30 to 50% of the retail value, accounting for the buyer’s own markup. 

Estate appraisals / Financial planning

You may be preparing your own estate with your attorney, or working through the estate of a loved one, and estimating the value of various items for resale or to fairly divide up the items among loved ones. 

Jewelry, watches, coins, flatware and gold are often part of an estate. 

An appraiser will value these items based on the fair value market price.

Charitable donations appraisals

Often, old jewelry is donated to charity for auction or other fundraising purposes, and the donor is given a receipt to use to write off the donation on their federal taxes. The jewelry can be appraised at fair market price for this purpose.

How much does a jewelry appraisal cost?

The cost of a jewelry appraisal depends on several factors:

  1. The complexity and rarity of the jewelry. A solitaire engagement ring is easier to appraise than an elaborate brooch with a dozen rare stones.
  2. The qualifications of the appraiser may charge less than a lab report from the GIA, since the latter is recognized as the industry standard, and their laboratories are equipped with sophisticated grading equipment to ensure accurate grading. (GIA does not provide appraisals or resale value estimates).

Often, a local jeweler, gold or diamond exchange or pawn shop near you will provide an appraisal for free, especially if you are a regular customer. Keep in mind that an appraisal is often inflated above what you might pay for the same item at a jewelry store, but can be useful for insurance or tax purposes.

If you are getting your jewelry appraised for insurance purposes from a local jeweler or appraiser, expect to pay a flat or hourly rate, based on $75 to $150 per hour, according to the insurance company Jewelers Mutual.

For a certified laboratory report from an independent association like the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, a one-carat diamond ring will cost an average of $200, with prices varying on the size, rarity and other factors of the jewelry.

A GIA grading and lab report will cost about $200 for a simple diamond ring, and up.

A gold wedding band, by comparison, should cost far less.

How much do jewelry appraisers charge?

Many local jewelers will provide an appraisal for resale or insurance purposes, but expect to pay between $50 and $150 per hour for jewelry appraisal services.

Where to get jewelry appraised

The main way most people understand the value of their jewelry is through a local jeweler, who can give you a decent estimate of how much your item would get at retail value — retail value is how much that jeweler could sell your ring, gold, diamond or earrings for in his or her store. This price is different from the price the jeweler will pay you today for your valuable — which will be far less than the retail value.

How old your piece of jewelry is can also impact what it’s worth, making antique and estate jewelry appraisals a little tricky. While some of your heirlooms could become valuable showpieces with larger price tags, others go out of style and lose their value.

Sometimes it makes sense to find a local jeweler to provide an appraisal. Again, this can work for insurance purposes, or if you want an initial quote to consider in your resale journey.

To find a reputable local jeweler for a certified appraisal of your vintage, antique or estate jewelry, the trans association Jewelers of America recommends searching the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers website.

Jewelry appraisals is largely an unregulated industry, so it is on the customer to ask for:

  • Credentials: A professional jewelry appraiser should be certified by the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, or a Graduate Gemologist diploma from the GIA.
  • Continuing education certificates
  • Jewelry appraisal experience
  • Adherence to legal standards: Among other laws and standards, intentionally over-valuing on appraisals is illegal under Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and unethical.

To find a trustworthy appraiser, a search Yelp, Better Business Bureau and Google:

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Jewelers aren’t your only option.

You can always get a second opinion, whether through GIA or on Worthy.com in the event that you chose to sell through that site.

Where can you get jewelry appraised for free?

Most local, reputable jewelers will give you an appraisal for free. Check the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers for recommendations on professional appraisers. Yelp reviews can also be helpful.

For lower-end items such as gold chains and rings, and smaller jewelry, a local pawn shop can weigh your items and offer a price that may shock you — pawn shop prices reflect around 13% to the dollar of original price paid.

Reliable online jewelry buyer Worthy provides free lab reports with all its auctions. Worthy.com has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, insures your item up to $100,000 with free FedEx door-to-door shipping, and pays within 24 hours of an accepted offer.

Where can I get estate jewelry appraised for free?

Sometimes local jewelers will provide an evaluation for free, especially if you are a long-time customer, or you are in the process of trading or selling an item, or the retailer has other reasons to nurture the relationship.

Some local jewelers are GIA-certified and can produce a thorough, stamped appraisal.

Reputable online diamond and jewelry buyers and marketplaces such as Worthy.com will include a lab grading report from the IGI or GIA for 100% free. Start your process of getting your free lab report at Worthy.

I sold a diamond engagement ring on Worthy, and here is my review >>

Where can I get a free online estate jewelry appraisal?

Reputable online diamond and jewelry buyers and marketplaces such as Worthy.com will include a lab grading report from the IGI or GIA for free. If at some point in the auction process you decide not to go through with the sale, a copy of that lab report is yours to keep, with no charge at all. It is important to note that IGI and GIA are objective, third-party laboratories, not an in-house technician or jeweler at Worthy, so you can trust there is no ulterior motive to inflate or deflate the price quoted.

Also, because the Worthy auction promotes the fact that it comes with an IGI or GIA certificate, that improves the buyer trust, and increases resale value. This transparency is one of the reasons Worthy has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau — which is useful for both the buyer and the seller (you).

How to appraise jewelry

A common concern among jewelry owners is how the jewelry appraisal actually works. You might wonder how to appraise jewelry yourself, but the process requires in-depth, scientific knowledge of gemstones and metals.

How do you get a jewelry appraisal for insurance purposes?

A certified professional appraiser is a good resource for insurance appraisals. A jeweler may do the appraisal for free if you have a relationship with them, or you can expect to pay $50 to $150 for most appraisals. 

Learn more about what your inherited silverware set is worth …

How to appraise jewelry yourself

Before you head to a local jeweler near you, or send your jewelry into an online jewelry buyer or gold buyer, you can take these steps to understand the value of your item:

  • Learn whether your diamond is real
  • Understand if the gold is real
  • Educate yourself about the jewelry market. For estate and antique jewelry, understand that there are four ways to value the piece:
    • Replacement price: how much it would cost to buy the same item, in the event your piece is lost, stolen or destroyed
    • Estate value retail: what it would sell for in a store
    • Estate value wholesale: the price you would receive from a wholesaler or at auction
    • Intrinsic value: the market price of the gold, platinum, diamond or gemstones

However, keep in mind that the only way to get a useful jewelry appraisal is through a certified appraiser.

Understanding jewelry appraisals

Understanding a ring appraisal

Like most jewelry, your engagement, wedding, diamond or other ring has both metal and gemstones in it. Typically, a jeweler or the GIA will evaluate the stone, and scrap metal valuations for any gold or platinum setting.

Also, it is important to understand that typically, the large center stone is the only diamond in most engagement rings that counts towards the carat weight. Side stones are typically not worth more than a few hundred dollars, unless they are of high quality and of at least .3 carat each.

Here is how and why I sold my engagement ring after divorce, and what I did with the money.

Understanding a diamond appraisal

A skilled appraiser or diamond buyer can also offer a quality estimate of the replacement value of your diamond, though there are many other ways to appraise a diamond and understand its value.

Learn more about how to sell a piece of Tiffany jewelry or engagement ring you no longer want.

Understanding gemstone appraisals

In order to get the most money for your gemstone, you must understand what they’re worth. While there are a number of factors that will influence the value of your gemstone, the most important are the same as for diamonds: 

  • Color: What specific color or hue is your stone? The rarer and deeper the color, generally speaking, the more valuable your gemstone.
  • Clarity: The clearer your stone, the more valuable it will be.
  • Carat: The larger your gemstone, the more valuable it will be.
  • Cut: If your gemstone is processed, the specific cut and quality of cut will impact its value.
  • Treatments: Is the gemstone color natural or achieved by other means, such as heating? For the most part, non-treated stones are more valuable.

While it may be possible to reference online charts and resources to conduct some sort of assessment for yourself, in order to get an accurate picture of your gemstone’s worth you need an appraisal.

Understanding antique and estate jewelry appraisals

A professional appraiser does an in-depth inspection to determine the value of your antique, vintage and estate rings, brooches, necklace, earrings or whatever piece you take in. Usually, this is done to get the “replacement value,” so you can make sure you bought enough insurance, or to help you with a tax or estate plan. If you’re looking to sell your item, including any silver, gold or semiprecious gemstones, like a moonstone, tiger eye, lapiz lazuli, or an onyx, a jeweler can give you an idea of their value.

An appraisal is not the same as a “grading” (sometimes called a “lab report”). Grading takes place in a laboratory, such as the International Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the International Gemological Institute (IGI).

Certified professional appraisers with extensive, scientific training in metals and gemstones will produce a 15-20 page report that details a gem’s size, clarity, color and cut, along with information about metals, market value, name brand and estimated resale price. Only a certified gemologist can give the correct value of your brooch, ring, necklace or other jewelry.

There are several ways to value antique or estate jewelry:

  1. Intrinsic value if your antique jewelry. What is the market rate for the weight of the scrap gold, silver and platinum, plus the market rate for any loose gemstones in the piece?
  2. Estate jewelry retail value. How much could this item sell for in a consignment, antique or jewelry store?
  3. Wholesale jewelry value. How much could you sell the item for to a wholesaler or retailer, who would then apply their markup when they put the estate jewelry to market?
  4. Replacement value. An appraisal for estate planning or insurance purposes seeks to set a value on antique jewelry that would help you replace the item were it lost or stolen.

How to sell your estate or antique jewelry for the highest price

Before you try to sell, get a grading report (not just an appraisal)

Regardless of whether you sell to an old family friend, or one of the trusted, quality online wholesalers or marketplaces for jewelry, it is important to get a certified jewelry grading first. Jewelry appraising is a highly scientific process, and only certified gemologists can give you an accurate report on the dimensions, quality and monetary value of your diamond, ring, jewelry or watch.

These laboratories are recognized around the world for their accurate, unbiased grading, and rely on very advanced technology to assess and price your item.

How does a jewelry appraisal differ from jewelry grading?

An appraisal can be done in less than an hour, and is typically used to determine the “replacement value” in insurance claims, or for tax or estate planning purposes, and is always much higher than the purchase price.

A grading is conducted in a third-party laboratory like GIA or IGI by certified gemologists, and will give you a definitive determination of the cut, clarity, quality, origin and exact measurements of your diamond or other jewelry (GIA does not provide resale values).

If you are seeking resale information about your jewelry, you need a grading report. 

Bottom line: Is it worth getting jewelry appraised?

If you simply want to understand what your jewelry is worth and what it's qualities are, then a free evaluation by a local jeweler or trusted pawn shop may be helpful. Similarly, if you need your jewelry appraised for insurance purposes, go ahead and pay for one one locally.

If you have a significant piece of branded or large diamond or gemstone jewelry, then a lab report or grading from GIA or another laboratory is a good investment for purposes of insurance, legal documentation for an estate plan, divorce proceedings or to best help you assess resale opportunities.

If you sell through Worthy, you can get a free lab report.

AppraisalEvaluationLab report/grading/certification
ProfessionalGIA certified appraiserLocal jeweler, pawn shop, etc.GIA, IGI or another internationally recognized laboratory
Length10-15 pages1-2 pages1-2 pages
Useful forTechnical detail of item + replacement valueUnderstanding resale or replacement valueTechnical detail of your jewelry
Price$100-$200Free$50-$200
What is a jewelry appraisal?

A jewelry appraisal is a statement of value that spells out the worth of your item. The person doing the appraisal, the appraiser, does a thorough inspection of your jewelry to determine the value.

How do you get jewelry appraised?

The main way most people get their jewelry appraised is through a local jeweler, who can give you a decent estimate of how much your item would get at retail value.

How much does a jewelry appraisal cost?

If you are getting your jewelry appraised for insurance purposes from a local jeweler or appraiser, expect to pay a flat or hourly rate, based on $75 to $150 per hour. Some appraisers charge based on a percentage of the appraised value.

How much do jewelry appraisers charge?

Many local jewelers will provide an appraisal for resale or insurance purposes, but expect to pay between $50 and $150 per hour for jewelry appraisal services.

Is it worth getting jewelry appraised?

If you have a significant piece of branded or large diamond or gemstone jewelry, then a lab report or grading from GIA or another laboratory is a good investment for purposes of insurance, legal documentation for an estate plan, divorce proceedings or to best help you assess resale opportunities.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

3 Comments

I inherited a lot of jewelry that I think is valuable based of my research. Please help. I need the money for my masters degree, a house, and possibly health complications. I am a 5’3” man that won’t ever marry because of that fact. I need help so I can jumpstart my career. I have a couple presidential Rolex’s that have been confirmed but not appraised plus more watches that are vintage. Please help me if you can

How would you go about getting raw uncut diamonds/& gemstones appraised? Or just find out if they are in fact diamonds ? I Inherited quite a few gemstones/ diamonds, all I know is they came from Alaska in the late 1940s from my great grandpas brother( my great uncle ) he mined gold there from what I understand.. iv did all the tests myself at home on the ones I believe to be diamonds and all the test point to diamonds. I don’t know what I can do from here tho, I took them to a local jeweler and he said he didn’t know much about diamonds in the rough but he would like to find out more about them! that he was both. Intrigued& wanted to find someone who did know more about raw diamonds to tell me & him more about them, and it was the first time he had seen anything like what I had , he said well ya just don’t get to see these type of gems everyday it’s a once in a lifetime thing for sure. but being he is a busy man, not much help! So if you could point me in the right direction that be great! Any help thank you !

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