Ring Appraisal 101: Everything You Need to Know
Real talk: Your wedding rings are an investment. (After all, according to The Knot 2021 Jewelry and Engagement Study, the average cost of an engagement ring is currently $6,000.) And with all serious splurges, you'll want to insure your ring to protect yourself—and your wallet—from worst case scenarios like damage, loss or theft. The first step in insuring that precious bling? Getting a ring appraisal—aka an official document verifying the market value of your ring or rings. Below, everything you need to know about how and where to get a ring appraisal—plus expert tips on why they're so important and what they should cost.
What is a Ring Appraisal?
Simply put, a ring appraisal is a document that verifies the facts about the rings or rings you've purchased. "It's completed by a certified appraiser who conducts an inspection of your item," says Melissa Becker, Vice President of Lavalier, a jewelry insurance agency. A ring appraisal includes information about the characteristics and details of a ring, including an approximate monetary value assigned to it," says Dustin Lemick, founder and CEO of BriteCo, a jewelry insurance agency. "The documentation typically provides the type of ring, its gemstone, metal and other composition, along with other important information about the item." There are different types of appraisals for different needs you may have, which are commonly insurance replacement, fair market value and estate appraisal." A certified jeweler, estate or financial planner, or your insurance provider can help you determine which type of appraisal you need. Before you start the appraisal process, it's a good idea to determine which type of appraisal is necessary.
It's also worth noting that a ring appraisal is different from the diamond grading report you got from your jeweler. A diamond grading report will tell you everything you need to know about your diamond (like how it's graded according to the 4C's). A ring appraisal assigns a value to your entire ring, so it takes the diamond (and any other stones present) as well as the metal into consideration.
Why Get a Ring Appraisal?
Think of a ring appraisal as a more official receipt in case anything happens to your ring. You might think that your homeowners or renters insurance will adequately cover your ring in the event of loss, theft or damage—but that's often not case. " Jewelry insurance is designed specifically for covering your ring, and is often far less expensive than having to replace or repair your ring should an issue occur," Lemick says. With this in mind, there are several reasons to get a ring appraisal, which is the first step in insuring your ring.
First, a ring appraisal states the actual value of your ring, which can differ from the price you paid for it. "An appraisal will give your ring an approximate value that can only be determined with a professional assessment. Many consumers assume that the cost they paid for the ring will serve as an adequate appraisal. However, the market for diamonds, gemstones and metals is fluid and can change your ring's value over time, " Lemick says. "An appraisal helps determine the true value of your ring so you can be certain."
Another plus? A ring appraisal can also reassure you that your ring is in excellent condition, or alert you to existing damage and wear and tear, which can be especially pertinent if you've purchased a vintage or second hand piece. Last but certainly not least, you will most likely need an appraisal to obtain insurance on your item. " In the event of a loss the insurance company will rely on this document to repair or replace with like kind and quality," Becker says.
How Does a Ring Appraisal Work?
According to Lemick, a ring appraisal is a fairly straightforward process. "A certified appraiser or jeweler will carefully inspect and evaluate your ring, taking note of its characteristics and other details," he says. " An assessed value will then be determined based on the current market value—this is essentially what it would cost to buy a new ring that is similar at the time of the appraisal." After the inspection is complete, you will be provided documentation of the appraisal to use when needed, especially when you go to buy jewelry insurance.
When Should I Get a Ring Appraisal?
In most cases, a jeweler will provide an appraisal shortly after you purchase a ring. "If its not provided at the time of sale, you should have a ring professionally appraised as soon as possible in order to get a jewelry insurance policy that gives you the right amount of coverage," Lemick says. It's also important to note that your ring may require more than one appraisal over time. "It's also recommended and often required that rings or jewelry are re-appraised every couple of years due to the rising costs of materials (diamonds, metals, etc.), inflation and overall changes in the market values," says Avi Levy, President of IGI North America. "It's important to keep the appraisal reports up to date, especially for insurance policies."
Where do I find Ring Appraisals Near Me?
If your jeweler is unable to offer an appraisal, there are organizations that provide access to individuals who specialize in appraisals. Some of these resources are listed below:
In order to make sure you're working with a qualified appraiser, Lemick recommends reading online reviews, or asking others for a referral or recommendation. According to Becker, you should ask the below questions to ensure you are working with a qualified appraiser:
What jewelry appraisal education and training have you received?
Do you have any certifications, such as the Graduate Gemologist (GG) from GIA?
For how many years have you been providing appraisals?
Approximately how many appraisals do you complete in a year?
How Much Does a Ring Appraisal Cost?
You should expect to pay a fee for your appraisal. The 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. "Ask your jeweler if they provide or offer an appraisal with your purchase," Becker says. In most cases, an appraisal will cost between $75 to $150. "Some jewelry appraisers will charge by the hour, but it's not recommended as you won't know the appraisal's cost upfront," Lemick says. Some other words of advice? Avoid appraisers who offer extremely low rates or those who base their fee on a percentage of your ring's appraisal value or price.