Top 10 Comments an Inexperienced Antique Jewelry Appraiser Might Make

10. “I can appraise anything.” – The truth is a trained appraiser can appraise anything, including antique jewelry, but if she lacks additional training in gems, metals and jewelry periods, she must have the help of experts if her appraisal is to be an accurate one. Ideally, when having your antique jewelry appraised, your appraiser should have gemological training, historical knowledge of the jewelry being appraised, and insight into the methods of construction in addition to appraisal training. She earns bonus points if she’s actually made such jewelry herself.

Steve Turner, a fine jewelry appraiser with Gemcorp, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia, recommends that you interview your appraiser regarding how much training she has with respect to your particular item.

9. “I have 10 years of retail store training. I really know my stuff.” – To accurately assess an antique piece of jewelry, much more than retail experience is required. When seeking an antique jewelry appraisal, don’t choose someone who is employed by a jewelry store or who buys and sells jewelry. The former simply is not exposed to enough product to make a viable assessment, and the latter may have a biased interest in the item.

8. “I’ve been doing this for three years. If I were in school, I would have my PhD in this stuff by now.” – Being able to appraise any specific item is more like getting an MD in it. “Someone who is appraising an antique piece of jewelry should have a minimum of five years in jewelry appraisals,” Turner stresses.

7. “Let me take a better look at that under my magnifying glass.” – To appraise antique jewelry, an appraiser should have a wide array of professional equipment at his disposal. High-powered magnification, preferably in the form of an electron microscope is of utmost importance. He should avail himself to other basic gemological equipment as well (e.g., spectroscope, refractometer, polariscope, dichroscope, etc.) if the jewelry contains gemstones. An extensive reference library is also a must have. In the case of diamonds, for example an antique diamond engagement ring, a set of 8 Master Color Grading Diamonds graded and approved by both GIA and AGS should be on hand as well.

6. “I don’t believe in all that USPAP compliance nonsense.” – Short for Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, USPAP is a set of quality control standards that applies to personal property like antique jewelry. A USPAP compliant appraisal ensures that your appraiser conforms to all the standards that have been set forth. For this type of reassurance, you should look for an appraiser who expressly states that she is USPAP compliant.

5. “What you want is a replacement cost with a new item appraisal.” – When it comes to antique jewelry, what you want is typically a replacement cost with a comparable item appraisal, but Turner points out that the “appraiser should evaluate an item on how you, the customer, want it appraised.” And whatever cost valuation the appraiser goes with must be based on genuine market data.

With antique jewelry, a comparable item replacement cost is usually preferable for insurance purposes because it’s easy to replace or remake an item with something new. It’s much harder to replace it with a comparable antique piece.

4. “You’ve been had! The diamond in your antique engagement ring has a hole in it.” – Antique jewelry appraisers who lack the requisite training say the darnedest things. Turner relates the story of an appraiser who called the facet in a diamond that allows the light to shine through it a “hole.” You might also hear an inexperienced appraiser say that the diamonds in an antique piece are set upside-down.

3. “This certificate of authenticity is all the proof you need.” – A certificate of authenticity might look good, but if it doesn’t say anything of substance, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. “A COA should be very specific regarding the description of the item. A generic statement that could apply to any diamond or gemstone, for instance, renders it worthless.” Unless the COA has all the details of a USPAP compliant appraisal, it’s not going to be a very helpful document.

2. “Trust me.” – If you don’t feel as though your appraiser is “competent, authoritative, and experienced,” then you should look elsewhere, cautions Turner. “It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get an example of the appraiser’s work product either.” Doing so will ensure he is giving you a genuine unbiased appraisal as opposed to one that is based on personal prejudices.

1. “You’re just being unreasonable.” – Although it’s not common to push the matter, it’s not unreasonable to ask an appraiser for market research that backs up her appraisal.

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