Paul D. Indorf GG (GIA), FGA, ASA
Master Gemologist Appraiser ®
At your home & office
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an appraisal?
- What should I look for in choosing an appraiser?
- Can an appraiser or an appraisal be certified?
- When should I have jewelry appraised?
- Is an appraisal a legal document?
- Is an appraisal a guarantee?
- How long do appraisals take?
WHAT IS AN APPRAISAL?
An appraisal is a written statement, independently, impartially and objectively prepared by a qualified professional independent jewelry appraiser, setting forth an opinion of the defined value of an adequately described piece of jewelry as of a specific date, supported by the presentation and analysis of relative jewelry market information.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN CHOOSING AN APPRAISER?
Here are some basic requirements for selecting a professional appraiser.
- A formal gemological education from an accredited gemological association
- Training in the principles of valuation
- Training in evaluating various manufacturing methods
- Experience in the buying and selling of jewlery
- Knowledge of various levels of value and how they affect the market from source to consumer
- Knowledge of current wholesale and retail pricing on gemstones, metals, jewelry and watches
- Knowledge of actual sales prices with access to verifiable data
- A complete gemological laboratory and reference library
Anyone who is appraising jewelry should be able to tell you when they received their gemological training, what professional appraisal association they belong to, and how long they have been appraising.
CAN AN APPRAISER OR AN APPRAISAL BE CERTIFIED?
"Certified" may be the most misused term in the jewelry industry. It is wrongfully and frequently used to describe diamonds with laboratory grading reports. The respected grading laboratories are fairly adamant that they do not “certify” stones. They state clearly they that only grade stones and provide a "Grading Report" of the results. When you hear a diamond is “Certified”, this only means that the diamond is accompanied by a grading report from an independent laboratory.
People in the jewelry industry will often claim to be “GIA Certified.” This is not true, as GIA (the Gemological Institute of America) is a school that provides diplomas upon completion of their various courses. So, for a graduate of GIA to claim to be “certified” is the same as a person with a diploma from Yale claiming to be “Yale Certified”. Approach “Certified” people in this industry cautiously. They probably are GIA graduates, but you need to know the courses or programs they may have completed and if they have had formal appraisal training from a credible organization.
Of course, there are a couple of exceptions. The American Gem Society does bestow the titles “Certified Gemologist, Certified Gemologist Appraiser" and "Independent Certified Gemologist Appraiser" to AGS members who have gemology diplomas and complete a rigorus certification process. In addition, AGS Titleholders must pass an annual re-certification exam based on the level of their title.
WHEN SHOULD I HAVE MY JEWELRY APPRAISED?
You need an appraisal to:
- Obtain insurance coverage on items worth more than $500
- Sell your jewelry or use it as collateral
- Settle an estate or for fair distribution of assets
- Claim a casualty loss for your insurance company or the IRS
- Divide property in a divorce
- Claim a tax deduction for a charitable contribution
- Settle a dispute between you and a retailer
Also, remember that prices do go up and down depending upon market conditions, so an appraisal more than two or three years old is of little relevance in today’s market. If metal prices are very high or very low when your appraisal is done, then it is a good idea to look at having those items re-appraised or updated.
IS AN APPRAISAL A LEGAL DOCUMENT?
An appraisal is not a legal document, but appraisals are often the core negotiating tool in a range of legal proceedings and court cases. A well-supported written appraisal, by an appraiser with the appropriate credentials and experience, is critical for success in estate, divorce, bankruptcy and insurance settlements. Individuals named as executors should take particular care to select an appraiser who has been trained in the requirements specified by the IRS and state taxing authorities, as both the individual and the appraiser could be found individually responsible for any significant misstatements of value.
IS AN APPRAISAL A GUARANTEE?
An appraisal is not a guarantee. By definition it is a written statement, independently, impartially and objectively prepared by a qualified professional independent jewelry appraiser, setting forth an opinion of the defined value of an adequately described piece of jewelry as of a specific date, supported by the presentation and analysis of relative jewelry market information.
HOW LONG DO APPRAISALS TAKE?
It depends on the type and number of items being appraised. New items with supporting documentation from reputable sources generally take less time. Antique or vintage items require additional research to ascertain current market value.