Let’s start by defining what an Independent Jewelry Appraiser is. Here we go! An Independent Jewelry Appraiser is anyone who decides to call themselves one. No laws prohibit anyone from hanging out a shingle that they are qualified to appraise jewelry. Doctors and lawyers need licenses to practice. Not jewelry appraisers. Now, there are appraisal associations, schools you can go to, fancy looking plaques you can hang on the wall saying you are qualified to appraise the burial site of King Tutankhamun but wishing or saying something doesn’t make it so. Only in the movies can you click your heels together three times and say “there’s no place like home” and be transported where you want to go. A lot of jewelry appraisers couldn’t cut it in the jewelry world. So, they became critics who take hush money from jewelers they secretly work for to sandbag the quality or value of an item from a competitor to undermine a sale!
Your typical predatory jewelry appraiser looks like your favorite uncle or like Barry Madoff. He’s nice, looks professional, compliments you, tells you how long he’s been in business, and says he is qualified to appraise anything. “It’s Appraisal Depot!” Coins from a sunken treasure chest? No problem. Antique silver, diamond encrusted butter knives that were owned by King Louis? Piece of cake! The predatory appraisers will always over value parts of what you bring in to gain your confidence, then under value or bury something else that they know will make you question your purchase.
So, how can you tell the honest appraisers from the dishonest ones?
- 1.) They won’t ever tell you that they know exactly what a piece of jewelry is worth. The best they can do is to give you a broad range. To be exact the stones have to be pulled from the setting.
- 2.) They will never offer to buy your jewelry or recommend a jeweler to you (even if you ask).
- 3.) They will not have any disclaimers on their appraisals saying they will not be held responsible for any action that is taken with the appraisal. If they don’t stand behind their work, what’s the point!
- 4.) They will never charge you a percentage of the appraised value as their fee. This will lead them to over value the merchandise to make more money.
- 5.) They will up front ask if you want the Dump, Wholesale, Retail (fair market), or Premium value of your merchandise. Anyone who picks an exact number out of thin air without explaining it is incompetent or worse–a crook! Pure and simple.
- 6.) They will always appraise the merchandise in front of you. If it needs to be cleaned they will ask you to join them.
- 7.) They will never, never, never ask to pull a diamond that they are trying to appraise!!! Only switch-out artists do this. If you are only there for an appraisal and not a sale there is no reason for them to pull it unless they want to switch it!
- 8.) If the stones are mounted he should only give you ranges in weight, clarity, and color. Investment grade quality cannot be determined or mounted merchandise. The highest grade for a diamond that is mounted is VS1 clarity, G in color. The appraiser may say that the quality could be higher but will never put it in writing. Off-makes (poorly proportioned stones) are easy to spot in a setting.
- 9.) An appraiser will always weigh a loose stone FIRST & LAST in front of you to prove the stone has not been switched.
- 10.) No honest appraiser will ever ask you to leave the merchandise with them to appraise unless you are reunited long lost buddies.
Very simple: Take appraisers’ word with a grain of salt. They are looking out for themselves. If they are honest they will explain their limitations; if they are dishonest they will act like God. Finally, if you are lucky enough to have bought a Fully Bonded Diamond the quality is 100% guaranteed so you have nothing to worry about. If you like it, keep it. If you ever don’t, get your money back! The only reason you ever get an appraisal anyway is when the seller puts an expiration date on the “Lifetime Guarantee”. If the jeweler backs the quality and purchase (no ifs, ands, or buts) then the only test any piece of jewelry needs to pass is the “It takes my breath away” test. If a piece of jewelry does that then put it on! None of us can last very long without our breath!
by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®