How to get a jewelry appraisal

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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.

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:

What are the different types of jewelry appraisals?

A one-page jewelry evaluation from a local jeweler, for example, may be useful as a pricing guideline, and is commonly used to determine insurance replacement value, or help you create an estate or tax plan, but is not useful in understanding exactly the quality, specifications and other attributes inherent to your item. A jewelry evaluation is also not a legally substantial document.

Appraisal vs. GIA lab report

The internationally recognized laboratories at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or International Gemological Institute (IGI), will grade your diamond or other gemstone jewelry, determining the cut, color, clarity and exact size of the stone, as well as other attributes like name brand, and grade and weight of any precious metal to give you a certified lab report with detailed information about the metal, diamonds, and gemstones.

Any appraisal is an estimate of a diamond’s monetary value. GIA does not perform appraisals. An appraisal assigns a value based on current market rate and the quality of the diamond. This dollar-sum can go up and down, depending on the demand for that particular piece of jewelry or gemstone.

A GIA grading report, or grading certificate, provides an objective assessment of a diamond’s quality, which appraisers use to assign the piece its value.

GIA has developed three different types of grading reports:

GIA Diamond Grading Report

In addition to a diamond’s 4Cs information, the Diamond Grading Report provides a plotted diagram of the stone’s clarity characteristics and a graphic representation of its proportions, information which serves to identify the individual stone.

Here is an example of a GIA Grading Report for a 1.51 carat round diamond:

GIA grading report for a 1.51 carat brilliant diamond.

GIA Diamond Dossier

The Diamond Dossier, available for diamonds that weigh between 0.15 and 1.99 carats, is an abbreviated version of the GIA Diamond Grading Report. This service includes the laser inscription of the diamond’s unique report number on the stone’s girdle.

GIA Diamond eReport

The eReport is a digital-only, paperless report that includes a graphic representation of the diamond’s proportions, and the added feature of a detailed face up image of the diamond captured during the grading process.

Jewelry appraisal vs jewelry evaluation

Many people assume that any document produced by a jewelry professional declaring the value of a piece of fine jewelry is a “jewelry appraisal.” However, here are the common differences between an appraisal, lab report and evaluation:

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 value Understanding resale or replacement valueTechnical detail of your jewelry
Price$100-$200Free$50-$200

Insurance appraisals/retail replacement value appraisals

A jeweler or pawn shop, however, can easily weigh and measure your gold, silver or common gemstones stones for the purpose of scrap value — and produce a one-page evaluation of what you own, along with an estimated resale value. However, this is not a certified appraisal, but typically a one-page jewelry evaluation that is not legally helpful if you find yourself in a dispute the value of your item.

A jewelry evaluation, however, can be had at these locations:

  • A local jeweler near you.
  • A jewelry laboratory, such as GIA or IGI
  • Worthy.com provides each item mailed in a copy of a lab report with an estimated resale price range from GIA or IGI — for free.

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 is my jewelry worth?

You might guess that solid gold and silver jewelry is worth more than costume trinkets, and some name-brand vintage costume jewelry may have retail value at a consignment shop, but you may be better off donating unused plastic and costume items to a local charity, and enjoying a tax deduction.

For solid gold or silver jewelry, as well as many grades of diamonds, you can use the calculator at CashforGoldUSA.

Gold calculator from CashforGoldUSA.

You can also estimate the value of any precious metals including platinum, silver and gold using today's price.

Gold prices this year exceeded $2,000 for only the second time in 50 years. As of , the gold resale value in the United States was at a near-record price of $ per ounce, or $ per gram.

An appraisal will help you understand the market value of your item, but a lab report will tell you exactly the qualities of your item, narrowing down a more definitive range of prices you can expect.

If your goal is having a general idea of your jewelry’s value, consider working with Worthy to get an estimate and then a lab report from a gemologist.

At the same time, always remember: Your stuff is only worth the amount someone else is willing to pay.

Jewelry appraisal vs selling price: How do appraisal prices compare with actual selling prices?

It is a common mistake to confuse jewelry appraisal price and the selling price. However, a value given for insurance lists the retail replacement cost, which is very different from what you’d get in the resale market.

Expect in general to receive about 50% or less of what you paid for your jewelry should you sell it at an online jewelry buyer — or even less at a pawnshop.

If you’re curious about the value, sometimes local jewelry appraisers give you an evaluation for free, which may serve as a good benchmark, but this won’t match what you’d earn if you sell your valuable — whether to a local jeweler, an online jewelry buyer, pawnshop, gold exchange, diamond exchange, eBay or another source. Unlike a detailed and stamped jewelry appraisal from a certified appraiser, an evaluation is not legally binding in the event that there is a dispute over the value of your item.

Keep in mind that the most valuable — by far! — part of a ring is the center stone. If your jewelry is highly designed with many smaller stones, the retail price will be disproportionately higher than the resale price, as nearly all buyers will only resell the center stone — and the metal and smaller stones are considered scrap.

If selling your jewelry is the ultimate goal, consider Worthy.com — the largest online jewelry marketplace. Every item sold on Worthy.com is sent to the IGI or GIA where it receives a lab report graded by a certified gemologist — then assigned an estimated resale price based on real-time market values.

Worthy only accepts items worth at least $1,000. For other items — including coins, silver, flatware, Rolex and bullion, Cash for Gold USA is our recommended buyer, with its A+ BBB rating and 24-hour payment.

Learn about silver buyers and what to expect, and read our CashforGoldUSA review.

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.

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.

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

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 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

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 an accurate estate jewelry appraisal near me?

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, a search on Yelp, as well as the Better Business Bureau, is a good idea. Keep in mind that 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 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).

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. 

Are jewelry appraisals accurate?

Insurance appraisals may serve the purpose of buying coverage for your jewelry collection, but when selling your valuables, we recommend taking extra steps to get the most detailed report about the specifications of your item. This gives you the confidence that you are getting the highest price for your diamond, gold or other jewelry — as well as providing true value for whoever buys your jewelry.

As a general rule, update your appraisal every two to three years is a good idea, as the price of gold, platinum and silver fluctuate daily, and the market value for all jewelry ebbs and flows.

In the end, the market dictates how much your item is worth. With most online jewelry sites like eBay or Etsy, just 5% of jewelry posted is actually sold. Worthy is a live, online jewelry marketplace where hundreds of vetted buyers around the world bid on your item, based on the information from the lab report from GIA or IGA — so everyone involved in the process understands exactly the quality of the item up for sale — including you!

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.

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.

How to find a reputable jewelry appraiser to get an appraisal

How old your piece of jewelry is can also impact what it’s worth, making 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 a local jeweler can help with general inquiries about how much your valuables are worth. But to know how to get jewelry appraised and sold, partnering with a reputable online jewelry buyer like Worthy can help.

Other leading online jewelry and diamond buyers advertise that their appraisers are GIA certified, but that is very different than sending your item to the GIA or IGA laboratory, where it will be inspected and receive a full laboratory report — for free.

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 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.

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.

Are jewelry appraisals accurate?

As a general rule, update your appraisal every two to three years is a good idea, as the price of gold, platinum and silver fluctuate daily, and the market value for all jewelry ebbs and flows. In the end, the market dictates how much your item is worth.

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 is my jewelry worth?

You might guess that solid gold and silver jewelry is worth more than costume trinkets, and some name-brand vintage costume jewelry may have retail value at a consignment shop, but you may be better off donating unused plastic and costume items to a local charity, and enjoying a tax deduction. For solid gold or silver jewelry, as well as many grades of diamonds, check the calculator at CashforGoldUSA.com.

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.

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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