Jewelry Appraisals Serve as Written Insurance

August 2013

If you own valuable pieces of jewelry, your insurance company will most likely require you to submit a photograph of each specific jewelry item along with an appraisal before they can be added to your policy.

Many people think of an appraisal as simply a dollar valuation of a certain piece of jewelry. But appraisals have become more sophisticated and insurance companies generally want as much information about an item as possible. This enables your insurer to put a realistic value on your jewelry piece (against loss, theft, fire, etc.) and also to make sure you are not underinsured.

Any valuable piece of jewelry which you purchase should come with a written appraisal. This appraisal should:

  • State whether any gems contained in the piece are natural or synthetic.
  • Give the name of the manufacturer, the workmanship involved, the type of metal used and the specific karat weight of the mounting, such as 14K, 18K, or 24K.
  • Disclose any treatments given to the gems that are not considered part of the normal processing for each specific gem. Otherwise, the appraisal should state that the gem is untreated.
  • Describe all characteristics of the piece. These should include accurate measurements, grades, and weights.
  • Give the value of the jewelry piece. This should be applied to the appraisal report in such a way that it cannot be altered (for example, with a seal).
  • Include a photograph of the specific piece including the gems.

A comprehensive appraisal provides you with the written assurance that the jewelry piece you are purchasing is of the quality and value which the seller has stated. It also allows your insurance company to set the proper premium so that you are adequately protected in the event you have to file a claim. The detailed description included in your appraisal means that you will be able to have a replacement piece made that accurately matches the original piece should the need ever arise.

Most insurance companies suggest that their policyholders use JISO/ACORD appraisal forms for their jewelry appraisals. ACORD is a non-profit organization which sets the electronic and print standards for the insurance industry. These standards and forms are universally supported by JISO, the Jewelry Insurance Standards Organization.

Important Considerations

Unfortunately, there are people in the jewelry appraisal business who claim to be certified jewelry appraisers but actually aren't. Here are some suggestions to consider when shopping for an appraiser.

  • Don't be fooled by a fancy letterhead. Your appraisal may look absolutely beautiful on paper but might not be worth anything because of what it omits. Make sure you know the information which should be contained in your appraisal and do not accept one that doesn't include all of it.
  • Beware of disclaimers. If the jeweler who is appraising your item includes a legal disclaimer such as "The foregoing appraisal is made and accepted upon the express understanding that NO liability or responsibility is incurred by the Appraiser giving same", do not accept this appraisal. The appraiser is basically saying he or she cannot be held responsible for any information contained in the appraisal. If this is the case, what's the point of the appraisal? JISO/ACORD appraisal forms contain no such disclaimer.
  • If the jewelry which you purchased did not come with a JISO/ACORD appraisal, be sure to have it appraised by an independent jeweler as soon as possible to be certain that it is of the quality which the seller stated. Seek out an appraiser of your choice, preferably a Certified Insurance Appraiser. Do not go to someone that the seller recommends.

Make certain you have the option of returning the jewelry you purchased within a specific period of time. This enables you to have the piece appraised by an independent gemologist and assures you that the jewelry you bought is exactly what you were told and worth what you paid. For this reason, it is always better to pay for your purchase with a credit card rather than using cash or a check. Most credit cards come with additional purchase protection features which give you another layer of security.