How to tell if an appraisal is legitimate?

by Elizabeth
(San Jose, Ca U.S.A.)

I was planning on getting a ring on Craigslist. They already got the rings (engagement/wedding band) appraised. How to tell if their appraisal is legitimate? Should we go together with the seller and get it appraised together? And the amount that is appraised, what would be a fair price to purchase the rings, at full price or slightly below?

Hi Elizabeth,

The only way you can trust an appraisal on a ring is to find out first who appraised the ring and then research that person and the qualifications that person has. Check to see how long the person has been appraising rings, if the person is affiliated with any type of business, what type of appraisals the person does and if the person has any licenses or certificates in jewelry appraisals.

Sometimes the best way to get this information in a timely manner is to call the person directly and ask!

If the appraisal was performed by a business, research that business as well - make sure the business is licensed to perform appraisals.

Now, here is where things can get a little tricky because there are no laws or regulations in the United States that regulate the jewelry appraisal business. So really, anyone can just print up their own certificate saying that they are a jewelry appraiser and go from there.

The big question here is - How do you know if the appraisal certificate or license is from a legitimate resource?

I always recommend choosing appraisers who have been certified by the American Gem Society. Appraisers with AGS certificates have gone through rigorous training and education programs - and have to participate in ongoing educational programs to maintain their licenses. AGS appraisers too cannot be involved in buying or selling jewelry pieces they appraise either, as this is an obvious conflict of interest.

Additionally, you can always check on an appraiser's status with the AGS directory.

If the business or person who performed the appraisal is not associated with the AGS, then a little research will be needed.

Here are the main points you want to look for in a ring appraisal:

1. Was the appraisal performed within the last 5 years? If not, another appraisal should be performed.

2. How much did the appraisal cost? Most legitimate ring appraisals - which involve diamonds or gemstones - cost anywhere from $75 to $250 dollars. What you want to avoid are the $25 appraisals - appraisals this cheap are generally not legitimate and are not performed by a reputable resource.

3. Will the appraisal be accepted by most major insurance companies? Jewelry appraisals must meet specific guidelines, and be performed by certified appraisers, before they can be accepted by insurance companies. If your insurance company cannot accept the appraisal, the ring should be appraised again by a legitimate resource.

4. What types of appraisal certificates does the appraiser have, and were these certificates issued by a legitimate resource.

If you can answer these four questions positively, the appraisal is valid.

If you feel more comfortable meeting the seller at the appraiser's locations, that is up to you - but whether or not you go with the seller to the appraisers, it is essential that these questions are answered.

It can take a bit of time and research to make sure that the appraisal meets these qualifications, but with an investment on a wedding or engagement ring, this time and research is definitely worth it!

The fair price to purchase the rings is generally at the appraised price. However, some types of rings hold their value better than others and have the potential to increase in value - these types of rings may be sold above appraisal price, but generally not too far above that price. Economic conditions too and supply and demand can affect the price of a ring regardless of the appraised price. For example, when the economy crashed in '08, rings were selling far below their appraised value because it was a buyer's market. In most cases though, for things to be fair to the buyer and the seller, the ring should be priced near the appraisal value.

And one last point - please be very careful making a purchase such as this one off of Craigslist. Do not bring cash, meet in a public place during daytime hours and bring someone with you. Use common sense and plenty of caution!

I hope this answers your questions, but do feel free to write again if you have any more - and best of luck with your purchase and the upcoming wedding!

Suzanne Gardner
Everything Wedding Rings

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