Frequently Asked Questions

Relating to jewellery appraisal and doing business with Armstrong Gemmology

What is an Appraisal?

An appraisal is an expert opinion of value based on the quality and nature of a physical item. The appraisal document is a legal document that formalizes the expert's opinion of value. Value is not price. Price may reflect the value of an item but it also may be more or less than the value. Value is determined for a specific market in accordance with the purpose and function of the appraisal. The purpose and function of the appraisal may require a value at average retail as in an insurance replacement value appraisal, or the value may be below wholesale for a fair market value liquidation appraisal. See the FAQ on appraisal value below.

What is an Independent Appraiser?

An independent appraiser is on who does not sell, buy or broker gems or jewelry. There are some who claim to be independent but yet may accept a commission or finder's fee for assisting a client in the sale of gems or jewelry. An independent appraiser should have no actual or appearance of conflict of interest with the appraised item or the client.
The independent appraiser will not have a fee based on the appraised value of the item. Any type of compensation, present of future, that is dependent upon the appraised value impairs the appraisers independence. Furthermore it is unethical for an appraiser to appraise an item for a dealer at a value significantly more than the sales price that will be used as a sale tool for selling the item. The use of the term "investment quality" when describing a gem is also unethical.

Is Richard Armstrong qualified to do insurance appraisals?

Yes. Richard has undergone appraisal training and has a diploma as a Registered Gemologist Appraiser from the International School of Gemmology. He also holds the Graduate Gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America. Richard is a Member in good standing of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. Armstrong Gemmology has been approved by Diamonds International to appraise Crown of Light® diamonds.

Can Armstong Gemmology do appraisals and lab services by mail?

Yes, Richard often carries out appraisals for clients who live in other parts of the country. Contact Armstrong Gemmology first, and ship the jewelry by Registered Mail and insured for at least the amount you paid for it. Upon completing the appraisal your items will be returned to you by Registered Mail insured for the appraisal value. The shipping must be paid by you and will be included on the invoice. Lab services in gem identification are provided by mail for jewelers seeking a second opinion for their clients or to confirm their own identification. The one drawback for doing appraisals by mail is the cost of insurance when shipping a high value piece of jewelry.

What forms of payment are accepted for appraisals?

Clients may pay by cash, check or credit card. Appraisals based on an hourly rate require payment of 50% of the estimated fee at time of appointment with the balance paid before the report is issued. The balance may be paid by cash, check, credit card or to the PayPal account

Crown of Light Diamond

I have a Crown of Light diamond ring that I need appraised. Why will my local jeweler not give me a good appraisal on it?

The Crown of Light Diamond® is a 90 facet patented cut designed to return more light through the crown enhancing its brilliance and dispersion. Most jewelers do not have experience with this patented and trademarked diamond. Their approach to appraising it is to estimate the weight and value it would have if recut to the traditional brilliant cut. Unless they are a qualified COL appraiser they will not have the information or experience to grade the cut. GIA cut grading standards can not be used for grading the COL diamond. This will significantly undervalue the diamond.

Armstrong Gemmology's approach to appraising the COL diamond is to grade it for color and clarity using GIA standards and grading procedures, then evaluate the cut based on the specifications of the patent and then determine the replacement value of the COL diamond.

COL diamonds do sell for a premium for three reasons:

  • It takes twice as long to cut a COL diamond as a traditional brilliant diamond.
  • The requirements of the COL diamond require higher quality rough which is rare and more costly than the rough that most other diamonds are cut from.
  • Being a branded diamond, there is value element to the brand name.

Just as you would pay more for a Rolex watch than an equivalent unbranded watch, so the COL diamond is priced higher than other nonbranded diamonds. For insurance replacement appraisal value to replace a lost, stolen or damaged COL diamond at "like kind and quality" there is only one source for replacement and that is Diamonds International, so their price for the diamond is the insurance replacement value.

What is an appraised value?

When appraising jewelry it is essential that the appraisal be done for a specific purpose. The most common appraisal is for insurance replacement value. That is the cost of replacing the item if it is lost, stolen, or damaged beyond repair. Another purpose of appraisal is to determine a sale value as the client desires to sell the item. This is a little more difficult. Generally for an individual not in the jewelry business to sell a piece of jewelry it will not be a retail value. If it is a private sale it may come close to retail but unless it is a very unusual piece most potential buyers will not pay retail. If sold to a retail jeweler, the jeweler will only pay a price below his wholesale cost for a similar item. Now if the item has a grading certificate and/or a certificate of origin, the sales value may be higher. But Certificates for any diamond or colored stone should be used with caution. Certificates have been know to be wrong, either from errors made by the lab preparing the certificate or in some cases labs selling higher grades to dealers submitting stones for grading. It is always the sellers responsibility to check the certificate for accuracy. Appraisal for auction is a variation of the sales appraisal. Appraisal for auction is a highly specialized field and not all apraisers can do it well unless they have auction experience.

Are jewelry appraisers required to be licensed?

No, there is no licensing requirement for jewelry appraisers. A real estate appraiser is required to be licensed, yet anyone can appraise a multi-million dollar jewelry item without being licensed or without any nationally recognized credentials. When seeking an appraiser look at his/her credentials and experience. An appraisal is a legal document and unless it is prepared according to legal standards it may put the appraiser at risk for any loss to the client from under appraisal or loss to the insurance company for over appraisal. Also an incorrectly done appraisal may not stand up in court if there is a dispute between the insured and the insurer over the value of the item.

Will my insurance company accept your appraisal?

As a Member of the NAJA Richard's appraisal should be accepted by any insurance company. All appraisals are prepared in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) which should satisfy the requirements of any insurance underwriter.

I bought a piece of jewelry at a discount. The seller gave me an appraisal that appraised the jewelry at twice what I paid for it. Is this appraisal a fair appraisal of the value of the item?

This has become a common practice in the industry, but these type "appraisals" are nothing more than a sales tool to make the customer think he/she is getting a good deal. The real value of the item is what you actually paid for it. Fair value of anything is what a motivated seller and a customer agree upon as the price of the item. If you're jewelry was lost or stolen soon after you purchased it you or your insurance company could probably replace it for close to what you paid for it. That is the fair market value and should be the appraised value.

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