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finding a gemologist-apprasier

Contact one of the following groups to find someone in your area:

  • The American Gem Society (702) 255-6500
  • The American Society of Appraisers (703) 478-2228
  • National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (410) 897-0889
  • The International Society of Appraisers (718) 896-1536
Antonis Achilleos

Engagement Rings: Appraisals 101

Get your ring appraised for insurance purposes and peace of mind. Here's the scoop and resources to make it happen.

Photo: Antonis Achilleos

Yes, you'll feel triumphant when you've finally found the perfect ring, but don't celebrate just yet -- you've got two more very important things to do before you can let that alluring little sparkler loose on the streets: Get it appraised and insured. The two go hand-in-hand: You need a professional's appraisal of your ring's value to get it insured for the proper amount, and you shouldn't leave the house without this safety net.

Why Get an Appraisal?

  • To verify facts about the stone for which you just plunked down several paychecks. (The diamond grading report that accompanies most stones weighing one carat or more is not an appraisal, although it does list all pertinent facts about a stone. An appraisal will double-check these facts.)
  • To insure your ring at the proper amount to cover theft, loss, or damage (it is also a good idea to reappraise your ring every two years to adjust for inflation or deflation). You may even want to bring it in once a year for a checkup.
  • To record detailed information -- a "fingerprint" plot diagram -- that will enable you to legally claim a ring recovered by the police or to find a ring of "comparable quality" if your ring is lost or stolen.

Things to Keep in Mind

A gemologist can verify facts about your ring, an appraiser can assign a value to your ring; a gemologist-appraiser can do both. Follow these tips to find someone you can trust:

An accurate appraisal will ensure that your ring has been insured for the correct amount. It's definitely better to be safe than sorry!

  • Err on the Safe Side
    If posssible avoid using a generic appraiser; look for an appraiser who is also a gemologist.
  • Check Credentials
    Choose a gemologist-appraiser whose credentials reflect expertise in both areas: formal education in gemology (a G.G. credential, for example, indicates a Graduate Gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America) and specialized appraisal training (see associations listed at right). These credentials ensure that the appraiser has had formal training and adheres to certain professional and ethical standards.
  • Ask About Length of Experience
    Look for someone who's had formal training and several years of experience in a well-equipped laboratory.
  • Ask Where the Appraisal Will Occur
    Ideally, the appraisal would be done in front of you to ensure that your stone is not switched and to protect the appraiser from charges thereof. Realistically, however, this is often not an option. Instead, ask for and make yourself familiar with a plot diagram (includes the stone's measurements and internal characteristics) and agree on a value before you hand over your sparkler (for insurance purposes while it is out of your hands; many appraisers have a take-in sheet for this purpose). When you pick up the ring, you can check the stone against the diagram to make sure it matches.
  • Expect a Fee
    Fees, which should be conspicuously posted, are based on the expertise of the appraiser, the time required to do the evaluation, and the complexity of the work. Avoid appraisers offering extremely low rates or those basing their fee on a percentage of your ring's appraisal value or price. Hourly rates range from $50 to $150; ask about the minimum fee before you commit. Most jewelers will charge either a flat rate, or will charge by the piece or by the hour.

Resource: Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide -- How to Buy Diamonds, Pearls, Colored Gemstones, Gold & Jewelry With Confidence and Knowledge

-- Lori Seto

See More: Engagement Rings