Diamond Ring Appraisal Guide (What, Why, and Where)
What is a diamond ring appraisal, and why does it matter? I asked myself the same question when shopping for my engagement ring.
Yes, we eschewed tradition and I picked out my own!
There are many questions to ask and much to learn during the process of shopping for an engagement ring. Things like
- Understanding the international standards of diamond grading
- Learning industry terminology
- Navigating the wide expanse of online and brick-and-mortar jewelry options
Once you and your partner finally have that shiny diamond engagement ring in your hands, it can be tempting to kick back and forget about it for a while (except when setting up those perfect instagram shots…).
But before you do, there’s one more step in the process — getting a professional appraisal. Having documentation about the specificities and monetary value of your jewelry will give you peace of mind and save you headaches down the road.
Why Should I Get a Diamond Appraisal?
A diamond appraisal essentially serves as a representative for your ring in the event that it is lost or stolen, or if you choose to sell it at a later time.
You will need one in order to make an insurance claim and receive full compensation for a replacement. An insurance appraisal gives you the exact value of the piece if, heaven forbid, you ever need to calculate your value of assets during a divorce, or in other legal matters such as wills and inheritance.
It’s also nice to have the document as a validation of the price you spent on the item initially — allowing for inflation, most appraisals will quote a valuation price higher than what you actually paid for it.
Okay, I’m Convinced. Where Do I Get a Diamond Appraisal?
Many major reputable jewelers will include a complimentary jewelry appraisal with your purchase. This certainly streamlines the process and gives you less to worry about.
Blue Nile provides a professional jewelry appraisal with all Build Your Own Diamond Jewelry® items, as well as diamond, pearl, and gemstone jewelry over $1,000.
Worthy first does a market value analysis based on your submitted information. Next, a physical evaluation is conducted by their grading partners, followed by a competitive online auction.
These steps are carried out to ensure that your experience is fully transparent and ends in the highest market value possible
Keep in mind, however, that it’s in a retailer’s best interest to make you feel like they’ve given you a spectacular deal. Their jewelry appraisals for their own house products might be artificially inflated. While this can be very useful when making an insurance claim for a lost ring, the higher perceived value can also mean that you’ll be paying unnecessarily higher ring insurance premiums to your insurance company.
If your purchase doesn’t come with its own appraisal, or if you’d just like a second opinion, you can go to an independent jewelry appraiser.
Both the Gemological Institute of America and the American Gem Society have databases of trusted appraisal services. Depending on the appraiser’s location, experience, and prestige, an appraisal can cost anywhere from $40 per hour to a few hundred.
Some appraisers also charge by item rather than by time, but this should be approached cautiously as jewelry items can vary so widely by complexity.
When choosing an appraiser, look at their qualifications (a degree in diamond grading or gemology is beneficial, in addition to thorough training in fine jewelry appraisal). Most importantly, start a dialogue with them and trust your jewelry to someone you feel is confident in their expertise.
What Happens During the Appraisal Process?
After sitting down for an initial consultation about your needs and expectations, the jewelry appraiser will give your ring a thorough cleaning. This ensures the most accurate possible study, as things like dust and oils from the skin can interfere with clarity, color, and weight analysis of the diamond.
Then the appraiser will begin examining the ring, starting with the metal used and any distinguishing features. Depending on the setting, the appraiser may remove the diamond to evaluate it independently, or they may use precise digital micromeasurements to accurately estimate the weight of the stone.
Then they’ll begin analyzing the diamond itself, according to the Four Cs — cut, clarity, color, and carat — as well as the condition that it’s in in order to calculate its approximate value. Appraisals will usually display some of these factors as a range, for instance G-H color. They may record notable, distinguishing clarity characteristics in the diamond. They will also make note of any prestigious brand markings that add to the ring’s value.
Using all of this information, the appraiser will write up a report on their findings with any relevant information and an approximate repurchase price for insurance purposes.
It’s very important to note that the repurchase price is different from the resale price — if you wish to sell your ring later on as a pre-owned piece, it’s unlikely that you would be able to ask for the price listed on your appraisal. If you think this is something you would like to consider in the future, ask the appraiser to include an estimated resale price during your initial consultation.
Due to the fluctuations of the fine jewelry market as well as inflation and changes in the value of precious metals over time, it is recommended that you renew your appraisal every five years.
What About Diamond Grading Reports? Do I Need Both?
A diamond grading report, also known as gemological laboratory certification, is different from an appraisal. It will include more in-depth detail on your diamond, down to precise measurements and angles of the diamond’s facets, a detailed blueprint of any natural clarity characteristics or variations in the stone, disclosure of any gem treatments, and information about the country of origin.
Often, jewelers will provide these reports along with the sale of the ring, and they can help your appraiser create a more accurate report. A diamond grading report will not contain any information about the retail value, repurchase price, or resale price. It also cannot be used as a substitute for an appraisal for insurance purposes.
Grading reports are useful for identification and for giving as much detail as possible if you ever wish to sell your ring in the future. They’re also pretty cool to look at.
A Diamond on the Hand is Worth Two … After an Appraisal?
Okay, not actually. That idiom got away from us, but you get the idea. Diamond appraisals are definitely worth it!
They’re useful to have on hand for the uncertainty of the future, for peace of mind in knowing that your treasure is well documented and well valued, and for personal interest in gaining a deeper understanding of your diamond.
Diamond reports and appraisals are a complex and fascinating science, detailing the most minute components of your diamond engagement ring to create a broad, beautiful picture of the sparkling whole.
We hope that your diamond ring appraisal helps ease some of your worries as you go forward into a bright, exciting new future.
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