How to Find a Reliable Appraiser
By Antoinette Matlins, PG
Author of Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide (GemStone Press)
The appraisal business has been booming over the past few years, and many jewelry firms have begun to provide the service themselves. We must point out, however, that there are essentially no officially established guidelines for going into the gem-appraising business. Anyone can represent himself or herself as an appraiser. While many highly qualified professionals are in the business, some others lack the expertise to offer these services. So it is essential to select an appraiser with care and diligence. Further, if the purpose of the appraisal is to verify the identity or genuineness of a gem as well as its value, we recommend that you deal with someone who is in the business of gem identification and appraising and not primarily in the business of selling gems.
To find a reliable gemologist-appraiser in your community, contact:
The American Society of Appraisers
P.O. Box 17265, Washington, DC 20041
(703) 478-2228 • Ask for a list of Master Gemologist Appraisers.
The American Gem Society (AGS)
8881 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89117
(702) 255-6500 • Ask for a list of Certified Gemologist Appraisers
or Independent Certified Gemologist Appraisers.
The Accredited Gemologists Association
17 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Point Farms, MI 48236
(800) 475-8898 • Ask for a list of Certified Gem Laboratories or
Certified Master Gemologists.
The International Society of Appraisers
16040 Christensen Rd., Ste. 320, Seattle, WA 98188-2929
(206) 241-0359 • Ask for a list of Certified Appraisers of Personal
National Association of Jewelry Appraisers
P.O. Box 18, Rego Park, NY 11374
(718) 896-1536 • Ask for a list of Certified Master Appraisers or
Certified Senior Members.
In addition, when selecting a gemologist-appraiser, keep the following suggestions in mind:
• Obtain the names of several appraisers and then compare their credentials. To be a qualified gemologist-appraiser requires extensive formal training and experience. You can conduct a preliminary check by telephoning the appraisers and inquiring about their gemological credentials.
• Look for specific credentials. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the Gemmological Association of Great Britain provide internationally recognized diplomas. The GIA’s highest award is the G.G. (Graduate Gemologist) and the Gemmological Association of Great Britain awards the F.G.A.—Fellow of the Gemmological Association (F.G.A.A. in Australia; F.C.G.A., Canada). Some hold this honor “With Distinction.” In Germany, the D.G.G. is awarded; in Asia, the A.G. Make sure the appraiser you select has one of these gemological diplomas. In addition, when seeking an appraiser, look for the title C.G.A. (Certified Gemologist Appraiser), which is awarded by the American Gem Society (AGS), or M.G.A. (Master Gemologist Appraiser), which is awarded by the American Society of Appraisers. Some fine gemologists and appraisers lack these titles because they do not belong to the organizations awarding them, but these titles currently represent the highest awards presented in the gemological appraisal field. Anyone holding these titles should have fine gemological credentials and adhere to high standards of professional conduct.
• Check the appraiser’s length of experience. In addition to formal training, to be reliable a gemologist-appraiser needs extensive experience in the handling of gems, use of the equipment necessary for accurate identification and evaluation, and activity in the marketplace. The appraiser should have at least several years’ experience in a well-equipped laboratory. If the gem being appraised is a colored gem, the complexities are much greater and require more extensive experience. In order to qualify for C.G.A. or M.G.A. titles, the appraiser must have at least several years’ experience.
• Ask where the appraisal will be conducted. An appraisal should normally be done in the presence of the customer, if possible. This is important in order to ensure that the same stone is returned to you and to protect the appraiser against charges of “switching.” Recently we appraised an old platinum engagement ring that had over twenty years’ filth compacted under the high, filigree-type box mounting typical of the early 1920s. After cleaning, which was difficult, the diamond showed a definite brown tint, easily seen by the client, which she had never noticed when the ring was dirty. She had just inherited the ring from her deceased mother-in-law, who had told her it had a blue-white color. If she had not been present when this ring was being cleaned and appraised, it might have resulted in a lawsuit, for she would certainly have suspected a switch. This particular situation does not present itself often, but appraisers and customers alike need to be diligent and watchful.
• If there are several pieces, the process can be very time-consuming. It normally takes about a half hour per item to get all of the specifications, and it can take much longer in some cases. Several appointments may be required for a proper job.
This material is not to be reproduced—doing so is a violation of copyright.
Excerpt is from Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide, 7th Edition—How to Buy Diamonds, Pearls, Colored Gemstones, Gold & Jewelry with Confidence and Knowledge © 2009 by Antoinette L. Matlins, PG & Antonio C. Bonanno, FGA, ASA, MGA. Permission granted by GemStone Press, Woodstock, VT, www.gemstonepress.com.