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Buyer Beware: Jewelry appraisals

Published: Mar. 8, 2004 at 5:42 PM EST|Updated: Sep. 11, 2007 at 11:27 AM EDT
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(National) March 8, 2004 - The late winter and early spring is one of the busiest times of the year for jewelers, with people buying everything from earrings to engagement rings. Buying a piece of jewelry can be a big investment, and it' one that you'll want to protect.

Consumer Reports Lisa Freeman says to get it insured you'll need an appraisal that's accurate. Often times they are not, and that's a problem, "If it's too high, you will be overpaying in premiums. If it's too low, then if you lose or have your item stolen, you won't get enough money from the insurance policy in order to replace it."

Consumer Reports used an antique diamond watch to see just how big discrepancies in appraisals can be. Donald Palmieri, a Master Gemologist Appraiser, supplied a benchmark appraisal. The watch was valued at $1550. His appraisal included a pamphlet with a complete, stone-by-stone description of the watch and photos.

Consumer Reports then had four different appraisers assess the watch. Freeman says two didn't come close to the watch's real value, "The highest priced appraisal was for $3500. The lowest was for $500, so the range was extremely wide."

Consumer Reports says to get an accurate appraisal agree up front on a flat rate. Never pay a percentage of an item's value. Get it in writing. Most "free" verbal appraisals are bids to buy, often at an undervalued price.

Freeman suggests using an accredited appraiser, one who isn't also a retailer, "You should never get your jewelry appraised by the same person who is either going to be selling your jewelry or purchasing jewelry, because they are not going to be an objective source of information for you."

Following this advice can help you get an accurate appraisal, so you can insure your precious jewelry, whether it arrives on Valentine's Day or any other day of the year. Consumer Reports says you may not need an appraisal at all. Often insurance companies can use a detailed sales receipt to determine coverage. So, check with your insurance company first to see if your receipt is sufficient.

by Troubleshooter Judi Gatson

posted 6:00pm by Chris Rees

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright @ 2003 Consumers Union of U. S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED