What is an appraisal?

A comprehensive appraisal report provides a detailed description of each item, including metal type, karatage, trademarks or hallmarks, dimensions, weight, method of manufacture and style, period and provenance when warranted. Each item of jewelry is then researched for the appropriate value.

In the appraisal report, diamonds are described by their actual or estimated weight, color, clarity and attributes of cut. Increased details of cut and diagrams of internal characteristics are provided for larger diamonds. Colored gemstones are identified and are described by their dimensions, actual or estimated weight, color (hue, tone and intensity), clarity, attributes of cut and phenomena when applicable.

Research and analysis leading to the value is summarized. For some complicated designer jewelry or watches, important vintage jewelry and certain intended uses, a more detailed analysis may be provided.

Gemologically Speaking, LLC provides a printed copy of the completed appraisal report, bound with full color digital photographs and a digital copy of the report in pdf format with photo files on CD for your convenience. Additional printed copies may be requested.

Why do you need an appraisal?

Appraisals are performed on jewelry for a variety of reasons:

Scheduling insurance coverage or settling an insurance claim


The most common reason for appraising your jewelry is to obtain insurance coverage. There are two important elements of an appraisal for insurance: value and description. The value on an appraisal sets only the upper limit of insurance coverage while determining the premium you pay. An appraisal with an over-inflated value will cause you to pay a higher premium than is necessary, but will typically not result in a higher “cash-out” in the event of a loss. Most insurance companies consider the description of the jewelry when replacing an item that was lost or damaged. A vague description allows the insurance company greater latitude in their choice of a replacement.

Estates and Trusts

If the appraisal involves an estate or trust, the scope of the assignment and level of detail contained in the report is tailored to meet the needs of the personal representative, attorney or trust officer.

  • Taxable estates require documents that are structured to meet IRS requirements. For estate planning, the basis of a taxable estate may be updated with the passing of a spouse. An estate may not meet the taxable threshold, but may require documentation for the probate process through the courts. Appraisals may be prepared to meet the specific requirements of each state.

  • For distribution of estate among heirs, the level of detail and reporting will vary with the needs of the family.

  • An appraisal may be required to document the jewelry when establishing or settling a trust, or to insure jewelry contained in a trust.

I am a qualified appraiser under current U.S. Treasury regulations and regularly assist client and their fiduciaries with their professional appraisal assignments. I maintain a complete portable gemological laboratory with the ability to travel to your office or client’s home if requested.


On-line purchases

As internet purchases become more common, an unbiased appraisal can verify that the diamond or jewelry item(s) purchased on-line matches the description, lab report or appraisal that accompanies the item.

Document a loose diamond or gemstone

An independent appraisal also provides a record of the diamond or gemstone before it is set or reset by the jeweler of your choice. The diamond is identified, weighed and graded before the setting or custom work occurs and is verified and checked for damage after the work is completed. This process allows for greater peace-of-mind while the gemstone is out of your possession and a more accurate appraisal at the end of the process.

Other uses

Charitable contribution: the IRS requires an appraisal for tax-deductible donations of jewelry and gemstones over $5,000.00.

Settlement of marital assets in the event of divorce.

Each type of appraisal is unique and requires different research and methodology to reach a final value conclusion. As a result, the value of the same jewelry item may be different for each of these appraisal types.

Sometimes you don’t need an appraisal.

To answer many jewelry questions, you may not need a written appraisal. You may need identification and grading services or you may simply need advice. Situations where you may not require an appraisal include:

  • You’ve inherited jewelry from family members over the years and need to sort through or triage the jewelry or gemstones and identify which pieces are genuine and which are costume or imitation.

  • You are contemplating selling a piece of jewelry and require information about the item and its current marketability. The markets available for selling used or previously owned jewelry are very different from the markets for new jewelry.

  • You purchased a piece of jewelry on the internet and just want to know if the item was correctly represented by the seller.

  • You are planning to purchase an item of diamond or gemstone jewelry would like to learn more about diamonds or gemstones.


Consultations for these and many other questions are available by appointment. Written reports will only be provided by request with consultation services and then only at the applicable hourly rates.