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Appraisals & San Diego Jewelry Appraisers

There is a lot of confusion surrounding jewelry appraising these days, especially among customers who are seeking to sell or get a cash loan on their pre-owned fine jewelry. At San Diego Jewelry Buyers we often get questions regarding jewelry appraisals. Sometimes these questions involve the price listed on an existing appraisal certificate; other times it is whether or not a customer should get their jewelry appraised–and if so, how to locate a reliable jewelry appraiser.

The following Q & A should eliminate much of that confusion and help you feel more confident when selling jewelry in San Diego.

1) When should I get my jewelry appraised? Jewelry appraising is a good idea if you want to cover your jewelry’s full value under an insurance policy. It is also wise if you have some vintage or antique jewelry which you are unsure of the value. But if you are looking to sell mass market fine jewelry that costs under $1500 retail, then appraisals are often a waste of money. Why? Because you usually can expect only 10%-30% of that jewelry’s retail value when you sell it. Therefore, the $50 (or more) that you spent on the appraisal is taking a big cut from the $100-$300 you are likely to receive in the end.

2) Why am I being offered so much less than the price on my appraisal certificate? Because the amount on the appraisal certificate is the potential retail value of your jewelry item. This price can be up to 1000% more than the manufacturer’s cost. An informal ‘resale’ appraisal conducted by a local jeweler is also often inflated because: a) the jeweler does not wish to reveal their markup percentages; and b) the jeweler works primarily with new jewelry and has little experience in the second-hand fine jewelry market.

3) What kind of vintage/antique jewelry should I get appraised? It is a good idea to get an appraisal on any antique jewelry that is signed and you are unsure of the value. Certain rare costume jewelry can sometimes be worth more than vintage gold jewelry. If you know the name of the jewelry manufacturer or designer, you can often save yourself some time and money by first looking them up online, and checking what their items are being sold for on auction sites like e-bay. If you live in an area with an auction house, check whether that house offers free appraisals. Many do.

4) How do I pick the right jewelry appraiser? Your appraiser should be a graduate gemologist from a recognized institution like GIA or someone with formal appraisal training who has been certified by an organization such as the American Society of Appraisers. In general, a good appraiser will have solid experience in all aspects of the jewelry business. Check their references.

5) How much should I pay a jewelry appraiser? The fee you pay should be on an hourly rate or a per piece rate. These rates vary but you can expect to pay at least $50 for valuation. Do not take your jewelry to an appraiser whose fee is a percentage of the value at which they appraise your item.