Appraisal Information

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An appraisal is a considered opinion of the identity, condition, relative quality and value of a specific item at a certain time within a specifically defined market for a specifically defined purpose that is developed by an independent, trained appraiser who is familiar with that type of item, after careful examination, authentication and value research in the appropriate market.

Appraisers have to discover the answers to the following:


The first step in any appraisal is identification.  The gemologist/appraiser has to test and authenticate the item to know exactly what he or she is dealing with.  Without the training and equipment to positively answer this question everything else will just be a guess.


Any damage or wear on an item is an important material fact and must be reported in every appraisal.  The type and extent of damage can have a significant impact on value or utility; or, it may not.  That will depend on the "intended use" of the report and if it's an appraisal, the appropriate market will influence the impact it has.  Only training and experience will allow the gemologist/appraiser to recognize the impact, if any, that damage or wear has on the value or functionality of an item.


Qualitative analysis, or "grading" is the process of determining the relative quality of an item compared to the entire universe of similar things.  In other words, compared to the finest known example, where does this one fit?  It's a form of "ranking" and is an essential part of every appraisal.  Only training and experience can allow an appraiser to accurately judge the quality of an item.  If the appraiser has never seen the finest; can they really know how the one they're examining compares?

Real or Fake 

Authentication is an essential part of every appraisal; especially if provenance or possible alteration could affect the value.  It's part of the identification process but takes things to another level of understanding.  Only specialized knowledge and experience can allow an appraiser to provide an opinion of authenticity.  For most jewelry and watches, only the original manufacturer can positively authenticate the piece.  Most appraisals are based on the "more likely than not" level of authentication and as such are always opinions rather than facts.

Intended Use

It's important to understand that things don't have "a value"; they can and do have many possible values.  Are you buying, selling, insuring, liquidating, gifting, funding a trust, filing bankruptcy, paying tax, settling a damage claim or bartering? Every appraisal has an "intended use".  The intended use will impact the appropriate market, type of value and approach to value that will be most likely to result in a credible value.  We'll discuss each of those things during our initial meeting.

Type of Value

If no one wants the item, there is no market and therefore no monetary value. For example, a finger-painting done by my daughter is priceless to me, but if no one would buy it, it has no market and therefore no monetary value.  For me it has vast sentimental value.  For some intended uses and types of reports you will get to choose among several possible types of value and we'll discuss which would best serve your needs.  For other intended uses a specific type of value is required.

Effective Date of Value 

Certain legal requirements may dictate that the value of an item must be determined as of a specific date. For example, for a non-cash charitable contribution, the date that ownership is transferred is the valuation effective date, not the date the appraisal was written.  Unless there's a specific legal requirement, you can choose an effective date in the past, present, or future. For example, in an insurance acquisition appraisal, either the date of inspection or the date the appraisal is written can be used.

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More in this category: « Appraising the Appraiser
American Gem Society
Gemological Institute of America Inc.
American Society of Appraisers
National Association of Jewelry Appraisers
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