Appraisers are part of a niche group of experts that form just a small, yet very critical aspect of the jewelry industry. Our skill sets derive from years of industry related experience, ongoing studies involving new and advanced scientific procedures, extensive research of market fluctuations and fashion trends that affect production cost and material value, to intercommunication with larger research labs and organizations to keep up on legal guidelines for correct disclosures within the context of what is used in most circumstances as legal statements and documents. Bias aside, we must be experts in almost every key role within the vast and often convoluted jewelry industry in order to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information to our clients.
For starters, a degree and/or certification in the gem science known as Gemology is just a starting point to dedicating ourselves to properly being able to not only identify colored stones, diamonds, and precious metals, but to also form a qualitative opinion on the level of fineness, purity, and nature of origin of the subject at hand. As this is an ongoing effort due to scientific advancements, a single diploma and/or certification is only the beginning of our required arsenal of qualifications. Furthermore, with today’s growing scientific abilities a gemologist is often faced with challenges that simply can’t be solved without specialized equipment such as mass spectrometers, and other proprietary optical equipment that utilize advanced chemistry and physics in order to effectively identify treatments, synthetics, and nature of origin.
Secondly, experience in identifying the production methods of the jewelry setting itself can mean the difference of anywhere between 25% to 500% of the value. Just like a modern day assembly line for automobile manufacturers such as Ford, Honda, or Chevrolet, makes every day cars and trucks more affordable with pre-made molds, materials purchased in thousands and even millions of units at a time, all while being produced by robotics and only limited personnel in order to minimize the end cost, most jewelry is widely produced in the same way, only on a smaller scale. Compare that to higher end manufacturers like Rolls Royce, Ferrari, or Aston Martin, where each stitch and weld is almost entirely formed by the hands of some of the best crafts people in the world in VERY limited, and sometimes exclusive quantities, so is hand made jewelry that is crafted by only a very small percentage of qualified artisans that take weeks, months, and in some cases, years to finish a single commissioned piece. And then there’s all the crafting methods that fall in between. So, not only is being able to identify key qualities of each piece in order to evaluate it properly, but it can really mean the difference of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for one piece.
Once we have a relative idea of what it is that we’re actually working with, then we need to be able to base our final assessment on a monetary value that relates to what exactly the luxury and fashion market dictates as trendy and rare. What type of colored stones are being shipped from country to country? What’s being newly mined around the world? What is in limited supply? All those variables and many more that the principles of “supply and demand” are based off of will ultimately need to be considered in order to help provide an accurate evaluation.
Additionaly, our continued ability and earnestness in working with suppliers, designers, and craftsmen, and educating ourselves on a constantly changing industry, is probably the most crucial role we play in order to provide an assessment that will be trusted by insurance companies, legal entities, as well as the consumer themselves.
And lastly, there are many organizations that appraisers belong to that verifiably represent this ongoing commitment to the gem and jewelry industry. GIA Alumni Association, The National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA), American Society of Appraisers (ASA), Fellowship of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (FGA), International Consortium of Gemological Laboratories (ICGL), and several others recognized in the U.S. as well as around the world.
When deciding who to work with when your jewelry appraisal needs come up, everything detailed above is a great starting point in order to find the company and/or personnel qualified enough to help ensure an accurate, detailed, and unbiased appraisal.