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What to look for in a jewelry appraisal

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Whether you inherit a family heirloom, or purchase or are gifted a fine piece of jewelry, you’ll want to have it appraised in case of loss, damage or theft.

There are two basic types of jewelry appraisals — insurance replacement appraisals and estate appraisals.

“Most insurance companies require that an appraiser be a graduate gemologist,” said Heather Miller, Graduate Gemologist at State Street Jewelers, in Geneva, Illinois, which has two on staff with more than 30 years experience.

For an insurance appraisal, replacement value — the amount it would cost to replace a piece — is determined.. “We always ask if there is any type of lab report associated with the jewelry,” Miller said. “A lab report can affect the value of the piece up to 50 percent.”

A lab report is included when a piece has been sent to a lab that will give it a grade to determine its value. Typically, a lab report is obtained for a single diamond or colored gemstone such as rubies or emeralds. Two accredited labs are GIA and AGS, which produce the two most recognizable lab reports. “We are members of AGS and our Graduate Gemologist degrees came from GIA,” Miller said.

The other common type of appraisal is an estate appraisal, which is basically liquidation value, Miller explained. “If you have to sell a piece quickly, you’ll obtain an estate appraisal. It’s a huge amount less — anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of the actual insurance replacement value of the piece, so it’s important to be specific about the type of appraisal that’s needed.”

“Remember it is important when having jewelry appraised to seek out a Graduate Gemologist and to supply any papers of authenticity, such as lab reports,” Miller said.

State Street Jewelers : 230 W State Street, Geneva, IL 60134 : 630-232-2085 : www.statestreetjewelers.com