Never in a million years did I ever think I would have a profession such as “jewelry appraiser.” It was something that I fell into by chance and I’m grateful/thankful everyday for that–because although I never thought it would be something I would do, there wasn’t a day that went by which I didn’t learn something new during that time. My mind was like a sponge during the first few months of picking up the skills of jewelry appraising–from measuring, to formulating, comparing and researching–everything came almost naturally for me. Market values and research were aspects I really enjoyed about the job. Things like checking out auctions results, following market trends, and so on–these are things I still do to this day although I don’t appraise jewelry on a regular basis anymore. From the moment I picked up the profession and for five years straight, I appraised piles of 10-25 pieces on a weekly basis–that is, fully written up, documented appraisals for insurance purposes. I’ve worked with clients of all walks of life, even traveling to rural Illinois to appraise an entire estate of about 100 items.
Being a jewelry appraiser is a fun job and very rewarding, but also has its downfalls. For me, personally, I worked in an office with no windows. The days were long when you had piles of jewelry to appraise–just you and a microscope. My eyesight has never been the same, but obviously aging will also do that to you. I enjoyed breaking stereotypes of a “typical appraiser.” Young women usually aren’t the ones getting pulled from the back of a jewelry store when someone has a question about their jewelry. I remember a customer telling me, “wait you’re the appraiser? I was expecting an older man!”
I’ve been putting together this list for awhile now and wanted to share my top insights/important things I’ve learned from my five years of being a jewelry appraiser–let’s start from the top:
1. While most appraisals I’ve done were dealing with happy clients that were getting insurance on their items to hopefully prevent anything bad from happening so they could potentially be covered–I also dealt with the opposite. So many disgruntled clients who were stolen from or lost an item that they deemed “irreplaceable” only to have it vanish. It happens–jewelry gets stolen, jewelry gets lost. I couldn’t recommend getting your jewelry appraised enough! I have never heard so many of the same stories of how things got stolen–the caregiver, the plumber, a son/daughter’s friend that came over, the list goes on. Bottom line, if you frequently have people coming in/out of your house–your jewelry items need to be insured and hidden.
2. I’ve also appraised lots of items that were randomly found by people–whether it was on the ground, inside an old house that was being renovated, or at garage sales in a junk pile–dreams do come true and treasure is still out there!! My favorite story comes from a lady who was renovating a house that was recently purchased. She was moving an old, tall grandfather clock that was left with the house, when she noticed something behind the pendulum part of the clock. It was a ring box with a solitaire ring inside. She thought for sure it was fake, but sure enough it was an Old European cut diamond that was 1.50 carats and worth $10k!
3. There are a lot of appraisers out there that aren’t doing it right. They think putting a crazy high value on a retail replacement appraisal will make their customer happy because it is nowhere near what they paid for that same item. So, this in turn makes the customer incredibly satisfied, thinking they got a steal of a deal. It is crazy because I honestly can’t even find comparables or a way to justify valuing some jewelry items so high. In the end, it doesn’t really help anyone because the customer ends up paying higher deductibles on insurance and also when they go to sell their jewelry, they have this clouded value of what they think that item is worth. Find an appraiser that is putting reasonable values on things and not outlandish replacement values.
4. If there is any type of jewelry that I feel doesn’t hold its value over time, it would have to be watches. I know so many people are going to hate me for saying this, including my husband who invests in Rolexes (not smart lol), but it is true. Resale values on watches are usually less than 1/3 of what you paid for it. That is relatively speaking though. And yes, there are some watches that age like fine wine and hold, if not increase, their value.
5. You’re only slightly offending your appraiser when you ask to be present while appraising your jewelry. This was my number one request I would get asked when people would make an appraisal appointment. It was hard to make exceptions for people and allow them to come back into normally-closed-quarters for the public. But at the same time, I could relate and understand where they were coming from. I can’t imagine leaving my engagement ring with someone for several days to get appraised. So while it may easily be taken offensively from an appraiser’s point of view, looking at it from a concerned client’s point of view helps. And yes, I would make exceptions–but no, not everyone does!
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*All above photos are pieces of jewelry I’ve appraised during my five years as a jewelry appraiser. None of them belong to me.