Have you ever asked your Jewellery store if they know their jewellery appraiser? I don’t mean their personal life necessarily, but do they know where the Jewellery appraiser did their studies and received their credentials. I would think this is a non issue for a store. A store that is promoting that they are providing jewellery appraising should know their appraisers name and their credentials but I recently found this is not necessarily the case.
I was totally surprised when doing some research in a town close to me that when I asked about the appraiser and the qualifications I found not one but two stores had no idea the credentials of the people that had “been working with them for years”. Is this the fault of the store or the appraiser? Both I would think. The appraiser should be leaving documents (at least business cards) which would enable the store to pass on the information to the customer but on the other hand why doesn’t the store know about the professional aspects of their appraiser.
As a customer you are entitled to know who is looking at your jewellery. You are entitled to know that these people have studied to get gemmological knowledge, valuation science knowledge, diamond grading knowledge. Where did they study? Are they keeping up to date with what is going on in the industry? How do you know?
So where to start when looking for information-ask questions-it is your personal treasures you are wanting the appraiser to look at.
Some of the questions to ask and answers you may get are listed next:
Where did they study gemmology?
Possible answers with designation: Great Britain or England (Gem A) -FGA, United States (GIA)-GG, Canada (Canadian Gemmological Association CGA)-FCGmA, There are other gemmological associations around the world as well, Scottish Gemmological Association, Gemmological Association of Australia, Gemmological Association of Portugal etc. Does your appraiser belong to one of these organizations-they should. Gemmology is the identifications of gems.
What about diamond grading-have they done a course in diamond grading-if so they should be able to tell you where they did this-many options from GIA, , CGA, Antwerp and more depending on the area of the world.
Valuation Science-have they done a valuation science course in jewellery appraising-this is a course that breaks down how to research the elements that go into putting a value to a piece of jewellery. The most widely recognized one is the Master Valuer Designation but there are others such as fundementals of Jewellery Appraising with the CGA in Toronto.
Do they only deal with insurance appraisals or can they do estate for probate or division, divorce settlement appraisals, after loss/theft insurance required appraisals? Do they know anything about antiques, vintage, tribal, ethnic jewellery? If not do they have the connections to get the information needed to conduct the appraisal?
The biggest question after that is are they staying up to date with the industry. This is an industry that is changing constantly: new treatments on gemstones, new synthetic gemstones, new imitation gemstones, new metals used in jewellery, new techniques in constructing these gorgeous pieces. How are they staying up to date? Are they attending conferences? Are they members of an Appraising Association? Such as NAJA, AIJV,etc
These are all questions you should be able to get information about, when asking what are your appraisers credentials. Will this appraiser be the cheapest in the neighborhood? Probably not, but do you want the cheapest or the appraiser with the knowledge to give you the most educated and researched opinion on the value of your item.
Your jewellery is important to you or you would not be looking at getting it appraised, so pick the jewellery store and appraiser who has the answers for your questions and who wants to (looks forward to) giving them to you.
It is not enough for a store to say: “we have used this person for years”, “do you think we would use them if they do not have the credentials?”, ” after all an appraisal is only an opinion.”, “the credentials are on the bottom of the appraisal” . These are some of the things I was told when I was asking about credentials and more information.These answers are not acceptable to me nor is the fact that I was never given the appraisers phone # or way to contact them to ask questions. The appraisers in question may be excellent appraisers but how would you know!
I hope this information may be of help to you one day in choosing where you do business and with whom. Ask questions and expect answers. It is your right!
Karen Howard FCGmA, RMV, AAP(CJA), AIJV, SGA (Fellow of Canadian Gemmological Association, Registered Master Valuer, Accredited Appraiser Professional with Canadian Jewellers Association, Association of Independent Jewellery Valuers, Scottish Gemmological Association) for your information today
Guelph, Ont Canada