Knowing the value of jewelry can be just as difficult as protecting it. Everything from the materials and the original design to its treatment and condition over the years can drastically affect the final price if you decide to sell it. Similarly, the insurance coverage or warranty you get to protect the piece can impact the payout you could receive. Let's look at what factors decide your fine jewelry's value and how you can protect that value.
What Can Affect the Value of Your Fine Jewelry?
Numerous guides can help you trace the valuations of your jewelry. However, the first thing experts recommend is that you examine your piece for hallmarks. These are identifiable markers that display the content of precious metal in the jewelry, the origins, and the manufacturer's name. The details on the marker, such as if the jewelry is 10K or 18K gold, establish a starting point as you try to determine the value of the jewelry. Any inset jewels, the total weight of the piece, and the way the gemstone is fastened give you a baseline of what the value may be.
However, all of the original features of your fine jewelry only set the baseline for its value. The history of the piece matters just as much. Vintage and antique jewelry, for example, can increase in value due to the historic nature, rarity, and collectibility.
However, age tends to be detrimental to jewelry's value, especially if it's frequently worn or poorly stored. Cracks, broken links and clasps, corrosion, and grime can lower the value of the jewelry. Unless the owner takes great care to keep the jewelry in excellent condition, immediately repair any breakage, and store the piece carefully (outside of occasional use), the value will decrease.
Jewelry 'Value' Can Mean Many Different Things
The value of your jewelry differs depending on who's measuring it. When you're considering your jewelry's value, you might first think of the price you paid when it was new. However, if you're selling your jewelry or having it replaced under the terms of an insurance policy, you must remember that the jewelry — now used — won't warrant the same pricing. Instead, the jewelry's value can be measured through these different lenses:
The cash value is the value of the jewelry based on its precious metals and gemstones. This intrinsic value can be determined through the material purity of the metal, its current price on the market, its weight, and the quality and quantity of gemstones.
Sometimes the design and crafting of the jewelry, as well as the value of the jeweler's brand, add additional value to a piece of jewelry. If that's the case, resale or retail value will be more appealing. This amount is the sum of the cash value, style, and workmanship.
The appraisal value of fine jewelry should be established through an authorized party with a solid reputation. Appraisers certified by the Gemological Institute of America can appraise jewelry pieces with gemstones, and high-quality jewelers can often appraise your jewelry in the store. Knowing the appraisal value is essential for documenting your jewelry, getting robust insurance policies, and more. But the appraisal value isn't necessarily the true dollar value of the item; it's simply the cost to replace it as ascertained by experienced experts.
Jewelry Insurance vs. Jewelry Warranty
There are two key forms of safeguards you can use to protect your next new purchase of fine jewelry. The first is a warranty offered through the retailer. These programs usually extend for a period of years, either as a long-lasting program or a shorter program that you can regularly renew. Warranty programs protect against typical damage that jewelry can incur, such as scratches, dents, broken clasps, and loosened prongs. Most warranties do not protect against loss and theft, however.
Jewelry insurance, on the other hand, does give you some degree of coverage in the event of loss, theft, or excessive damage that renders the jewelry unwearable or ruined. You should carefully research the specific policies for their limitations and gaps in coverage. Some insurance policies only protect against certain events and not others. Also, most insurance policies pay less than the retail value or appraised value of the jewelry.
What Dollar Value Can You Expect Under Insurance Coverage?
There are three amounts that you should know if you're getting your jewelry insured:
- Actual Cash Value: This is the cash value of the piece less what the insurance company determines to be lost value due to wear and tear, age, and style. That means that insurance providers, if they have to pay out cash due to a claim, will pay less — potentially much less — than the price of the piece.
- Agreed Value: This is one of the more robust policies wherein insurance companies have to pay out a previously decided value. These policies require you to routinely have the jewelry appraised so that the agreed value amount stays accurate, but the payout is greater and, certainly from the buyer's perspective, fairer.
- Retail Replacement Value: This is the cost an insurance provider determines to be the amount necessary to replace your lost, stolen, or wholly damaged jewelry. This amount can change over time as jewelry becomes more commonplace or rare. However, this amount also tends to be lower than the value of the jewelry.
It can be a good idea to look for an insurance policy to cover your jewelry, particularly if theft and loss are significant risks, but we recommend caution. Carefully research the terms of various policies and find the one that best protects your interest. Also, consider other options for protecting your jewelry and keeping it in good repair.
At Martin Busch Jewelers, we offer high-quality services to help you ascertain the value of and protect your fine jewelry. This includes appraisal services, resale, and protection programs for new fine jewelry. Contact us today to learn more about our policies and services.