There is a process to getting any item appraised, whether it be your baseball card collection, antiques, or even your home. But when it comes to getting your jewelry appraised, there are specific procedures and tools that appraisers use to provide you with the most accurate results.
Appraisals are not based on educated guesses. They require professional opinion and evaluation, from start to finish. So just how detailed is the jewelry appraisal process? We’re glad you asked.
Past Appraisals & Item History
Once an item is cleaned and prepared, the first thing appraisers will ask about during an evaluation is the history of the item you are having appraised. Your knowledge about the item is helpful in determining its true history, rarity and uniqueness. Appraisers are able to narrow down what the value of your piece may be, based on this initial information, so the more you can provide, the better.
In addition to your understood history of the item, providing your appraiser with physical documentation such as previous appraisals, certificates, receipts, etc., is especially helpful in the process – so be sure to bring this with you to your appointment.
There are some key things appraisers look for on an item right off the bat. First and foremost, the style of an item can help date it. Trends in fashion and jewelry change often – and some things like color, pattern, etc. are a signature of certain time periods.
Other things appraisers look for are the unique marks on an item. These include hallmarks (authenticity seals stamped on precious metal objects, such as silverware and jewelry), trademarks and maker’s marks (the signature of the jewelry maker), and date marks. Based on what is found, these marks can often tell an appraiser the time period an item is from, and where it was made.
Marks are typically very small and found in areas like the clasps of bracelets and necklaces, inside the circles of rings, or even on the posts or backs of earrings. Because of their size, appraisers use a tool called a loupe to magnify the letters and numbers included in the marks. Once the marks are confirmed and recorded, an item’s value is closer to being determined.
Tools Appraisers Use
In addition to loupes, appraisers have several items in their toolkits. Two to note are scales and microscopes. Scales are used to determine the weight of jewelry, and microscopes are used to get a better view of the gems and other elements of a piece.
Since appraisers are looking for specifics in jewelry pieces, microscopes are equipped with special lighting and scopes, and scales give specific jewelry related measurements.
Comparing Personal Jewelry to Jewelry on the Market
To further establish the accurate pricing of an item, appraisers take advantage of the marketplace for research. They do this by finding items in the marketplace that are similar to the ones they are appraising, and make note of the current selling point. This research is extremely helpful for a well rounded appraisal.
Determining and Appraising the Quality of Gold Jewelry
When it comes to appraising gold jewelry, the approach is a bit more in depth.
To determine the quality of gold, appraisers use gold testing kits. Testing the quality of gold can be done in a number of ways. While some prefer to use an electronic gold testing kit, the most popular way is by using acids.
Acid testing is done with a kit of several acids that determine the amount of karats in the gold being tested, and each acid is designated by amount of karats. For example, acid A could represent 14 karats, while acid B would represent 18 karats, etc.
The process begins with your appraiser rubbing a small sample of the gold onto a touchstone (don’t worry, this doesn’t hurt it!). They will then apply a small drop of one acid from their kit onto the sample. Whether or not there is a reaction to the acid will determine the grade of gold it is. This procedure adds necessary information to a well-rounded jewelry appraisal.
As you can tell, there is quite a lot that goes into determining the value of jewelry. From knowing the history, to the naked eye observations, to more in depth analysis, we always recommend hiring a professional appraiser to assess the value of your jewelry.