We recommend having your diamond rings appraised by a credentialed appraiser. With an official appraisal, you'll be eligible to receive the full financial reimbursement for your jewellery through an insurance company. Most reputable diamond jewellers provide complimentary appraisals with their engagement rings and other fine jewellery.
An appraisal is one form of assessing a diamond ring. This official piece of paper will describe the assigned value of your entire ring including your diamond, other stones and your setting. Professional appraisers and jewellers provide these value assessments. In the jewellery industry, it's standard for appraisals to be inflated, usually at 100% above the retail value. In other words, the appraisal doesn't represent the true value of the diamond ring.
When you first receive your appraisal, it may seem like you snagged a great deal. But both the insurance company and the jeweller benefit from the elevated appraisal. Insurance companies can charge higher premiums and the jeweller can boast an excellent deal.
Because an appraisal doesn't reflect the actual value of your diamond ring, you need to be realistic about what to expect when you sell or trade in your stone. You may be surprised at how little you receive in comparison with your appraisal. Your appraisal is not a good indicator of what you'll get for a resale price. It is more for insurance purposes. For additional information on what it's like to sell your diamond, read our guide on Ring Selling.
An appraisal is different than the diamond grading certificate that comes with your ring. A diamond grading report, like one from the GIA or AGS, provides details like cut, color, clarity and carat weight. A grading certificate does not provide a dollar estimate or value like an appraisal does.
Unlike the professionals at lab grading entities, appraisers don't have access to all of the equipment that laboratories use. In addition, despite the fact that there are appraisal societies and organizations, it's impossible for them to be as uniform in their grading as a laboratory. In a lab, professionals are working for a single company under established guidelines and parameters. With appraisals, professionals can operate independently, or be affiliated with a small or large jewellery company.
Nearly all reputable jewellers offer appraisals. Independent appraisers also exist, along with diamond companies that provide a complimentary appraisal with your jewellery purchase. If you're going with an independent appraiser, there are a few things to watch for:
If you buy a diamond and have it appraised independently, be very careful when choosing someone. You want to be sure they're credentialed, and ideally have an educational background in gemology.
Be aware that even an accredited jeweller, appraiser or gemologist can be tempted to be harsh in their appraisal of your ring. They might bash a ring you bought from another source if they think they can convince you to buy something from them. Their incentive is that the profit on a ring is significantly higher than the charge for an appraisal. Even if there is an appraiser that works "independently," they may receive kickbacks for referrals. Because of these financial kickbacks, they can be tempted to be harsh. When agreeing to an appraisal, always state upfront that you already purchased the diamond and are unable to return it. This way, they have no incentive to bash the ring unnecessarily. Certainly, not all jewellers or appraisers work like this, but you should protect yourself in case you run into the exception to the rule.
Try to have your appraisal conducted in front of your eyes to verify that your ring isn't switched with another one. You can also familiarize yourself with your diamond's details, such as its measurements and blemishes, to ensure you receive the correct ring in return.
If you're purchasing through a highly reputable diamond retailer, your diamond ring will likely already come with an official appraisal. This saves you time, hassle and money.
With some reputable jewellers your diamond ring arrives with your lab report and an appraisal. You won't need to hunt down an appraiser or find a jewellery shop to have your ring appraised. Similarly some reputable jewellers rings come with a calculated appraisal using current market data. This appraisal document can be given directly to your insurance company.
Receiving a value appraisal for your ring is useful for two reasons:
Peace of mind in knowing your ring's value is near to what you paid for it.
Insuring your ring for its full replacement value.
Appraisals are necessary for an insurance company to begin a policy for your ring. Having that official appraisal makes you eligible for the full financial investment should your ring ever be lost, stolen or damaged. You can either purchase specific ring insurance or add a rider to an existing homeowner's or renter's policy. Review a few insurance plan options before selecting one that's best for you (and gives you the most value for what you're paying).
As soon as you have your ring in hand, you can have it appraised (unless it already came with an appraisal). The earlier you have your ring appraised, the better. That way, you can get your ring insured immediately leaving you with one less thing to worry about.
Because the cost of diamonds and precious metals rise over time, have your ring appraised every five years. With an appraisal that's a decade old, the recorded value of your ring will likely be far less than what it's actually worth. And you want to make sure you receive the full current value of the ring should anything happen to it.
Most appraisals cost a fee, unless of course, your diamond ring comes with an appraisal. Based on the appraiser's expertise and your geographical location, the rate can range anywhere from $45-$155 per hour. An extremely low rate, or a rate that's based on a percentage of the jewellery's value, are two warning signs to steer clear. Choose an appraiser with a flat rate, or one who charges by the hour or by the piece. Ask for a minimum fee before committing.