There are many reasons why you might need an appraiser such as insuring an engagement ring, selling, or buying high end jewelry, and simply finding out the value of an heirloom. It can be difficult to blindly trust someone with such valuable items, especially if you have never done it before. But ENJI wants to help make this process easier for you by recommending some qualities to look for in an appraiser. Here are a few key things to look for…
One of the best ways to distinguish an appraiser from an enthusiast is by seeing their certification. This ensures that the appraiser has significant training and testing in gemstones. Gem and jewelry appraisers should have both gemological and appraisal training. They should also have a thorough understanding of how jewelry is made.
Such certifications can include various institutional names such as a GIA Graduate Gemologist certification as well as American Society of Appraisers (ASA), International Society of Appraisers (ISA), and/or the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers.
Where an appraiser is currently hired at can say a lot about their abilities and professionalism. Are they currently working for a higher end company, contracted by various companies, or works independently? Is the jewelry appraiser a full-time appraiser, or does the appraiser work in a jewelry store and occasionally do appraisals? A good jewelry appraiser will have extensive background in all aspects of the jewelry business.
It is obvious that a full-time appraiser that works extensively with quality gemstones and high end jewelry pieces will charge more than a part time friendly appraise. But do not let this discourage you, there are quality professionals who do part time work.
Another strong indicator of how professional an appraiser is, can be inferred by their fees and charges. Look for an appraiser who can provide you with an estimate fee that is not based on the final appraisal value of your jewelry. This will help ensure that you are being treated fairly and honestly.
The fee for a professional appraisal should only be on an hourly rate or a piece rate based on time and complexity, and never a percentage of the value of the item appraised.
An honest appraiser will choose to use language that is appropriate for your level of knowledge of jewelry. They will use transparent language and help translate to a vocabulary you can understand.
At no point should an appraiser use a belittling tone, use language that is purposefully confusing, or try to deceive you. They should use clear and well-mannered tones to help you understand the quality of your piece.
Let us be honest. There are some people who are very good at looking and seeming professional. They show you their certification and use the right professionalism to make you feel confident that they know what they are doing. Another way to help ensure your appraiser is legitimate is by asking for recommendations.
If this appraiser is transparent and honest they should have no trouble providing a list of recommendations from their previous appraisals. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, especially from other professionals such as banks, trust companies, and attorneys who have used and are familiar with the appraiser's professional work.
How to find an appraiser
Now that you know what you should look for in an appraiser, how do you find one?
One way to find an appraiser is by contacting the various appraisal associations themselves. These associations have members nationwide, and in some cases internationally, and will likely have an appraiser in your area. An advantage of seeking a referral through an appraisal association is that these groups require their members to uphold ethical and professional standards. GIA has created a list of some appraisal groups, click the link to see their recommendations: https://www.gia.edu/library-appraisal-associations