Jewelry is one of the smallest items we own with the largest price tag. Cars, houses, paintings, you can’t put those in your pocket and easily misplace them. But jewelry is another story. That’s why it’s so important to have your jewelry properly evaluated, appraised, and insured.

I know, I know. You’re probably wondering the same question customers have asked a million times: “Is my jewelry even worth having insured?” It’s not a simple question to answer though, so my response is always a question in return. The first thing to consider is this: If you were to loose the piece, could you afford to replace it? Would you want to? If the answer to question number 1 is “no” and/or the answer to number 2 is “yes,” then definitely go out and get that piece appraised! If you’re unsure if you want an appraisal on the item, you can ask a jeweler for a “ballpark value” of the piece, just to give you an idea of its worth.

Secondly, you need to think about its value and whether, to you, it’s worth insuring. My personal value rule of thumb is that any piece worth more than $5,000 should be insured and any piece over $2,000 should at least be appraised. (Insurance and appraisals are two separate things. An appraisal does not mean you have insurance coverage.) Only you can determine if pieces priced between $1000 and $5000 merit the insurance premiums you’ll have to pay. There is no right or wrong decision here—it is up to you to choose if it’s worth it.

Tip: Why should I bother getting a piece over $2,000 appraised if I don’t want insurance? It’s good to have for your records, proves that you own the piece, documents what it looks like, and may even get you more money from your regular home insurance, even if you don’t specifically take out a policy on that particular piece.

Another factor you’ll want to keep in mind is that you really can’t -and shouldn’t- insure all your jewelry. It doesn’t always make sense.

Your slim, gold wedding band may be your most prized possession, but if you were to lose it or have it stolen, the actual replacement value (we’ll talk more about this soon) might only be $200. If you remember one thing about jewelry insurance from this article, it should be that the replacement value of a piece absolutely cannot be related to its emotional or sentimental value. That is serious insurance fraud. Replacement values should be quoted when you have your jewelry appraised—it’s a very technical dollar amount that can only be determined by an expert.

Once you’ve determined if you want to insure your jewelry or not, then it’s time to actually do it. Jewelry can usually be insured through your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance, though a completely separate insurance policy can also be purchased specifically for jewelry. The process, either way, starts by having an official appraisal done, if you haven’t already done so as part of your decision-making process.

Tip: Keep in mind that jewelry can be insured in “bulk”. If you have a lot of jewelry, in any price range, you can usually purchase a bulk insurance for all of the pieces to whatever dollar amount the total is worth. However, insurance companies will most likely require documentation – receipts or appraisals – for pieces worth over a certain dollar value. Check with your insurance company to find out specifics.

Appraisals involve first finding a trusted jeweler, preferably someone who has GIA-certified staff member, gemologist, accredited appraiser, or has accreditation from a recognized jewelry institution. They will need to examine your jewelry, which may include cleaning it in order to see the setting and gemstones clearly. The appraiser will take a photograph of your jewelry, then measure and possibly weigh larger gems to determine the type, carat weight and quality of the gemstones. They will also check the type of metal and karat of metal, as well as collect notes on the item.

Your expert will then provide you with a detailed written description of your jewelry item, along with the picture, and a stated retail replacement value. A retail replacement value is how much it would cost you to replace that exact piece of jewelry in the current jewelry market. The retail replacement value is not what you will be paid if you try to sell your jewelry to a third party (pawn shop, online, jewelry buyer, gold buyer), it is the amount you would spend if you were to walk into a jewelry retailer right now and buy the exact same piece.

Tip: Jewelry appraisals should be updated every five years to ensure the listed value is correct based on the current market. If you return to the jeweler from whom you purchased the item from or the appraiser who did the original appraisal, the cost may be less (or none!) to get the appraisal updated. As you can see, appraisals are super important to making sure you get the right insurance for your piece.

The cost of an appraisal will depend on the jeweler or appraiser you take it to. Many jewelers and appraisers charge a set price, normally in the $50-$150 range. Others may charge by the value of the piece. For example, appraisals may start at $75 but increase depending on the piece’s value. The reason for this is that more expensive pieces are generally harder to appraise. There could be many, many gemstones to check and measure or a very large diamond to grade. Grading larger gemstones is difficult because even a minor mistake in the grading of the gem could result in hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars change in the value of the gem. So the utmost care and additional time must go into grading these special pieces of jewelry.

Tip: If you have an old appraisal or a receipt from the original purchase of a jewelry item, bring it with you when you have your piece appraised. This can help the appraiser determine vital information like original cost or the carat weight of a gem (so no need to remove it from its current setting to weigh it) or even lessen the cost of the appraisal.

Once you have gotten your pieces appraised, you will then submit a copy of the appraisals to your chosen insurance company. Sometimes the appraiser will do this for you, sometimes not. The insurance company can then get you a quote on how much it will cost per month to cover your submitted pieces. If the quote makes sense to you for the value of the item, then ta-da! Money is exchanged, and you can rest assured that your beloved jewelry is insured. Piece of mind at last!

Cheers,

Jess the Jeweler

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