WHAT IS A GEMSTONE APPRAISAL?
If the replacement value is too high, you are paying for insurance you don't need. But if it is too low, you won't be fully covered in case of loss. While there are several ways to get a gemstone appraised it is most important that whoever is examining your gemstone is fully qualified and objective.
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We only trust the best diamond grading lab in the world, GIA, to grade valuables prior to auction. Diamonds sold with GIA grading reports are considered more valuable and can command higher prices.
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What Should a Gem Appraisal Include?
A gemstone appraisal should include much more than the value of your gemstone. A professional appraisal must include a detailed gemological description of the gem and its setting, which often requires removing the gem from its mounting.
It should also include a complete description of the gem's carat weight, size, color, clarity, cut, whether the gem is natural, and whether it has been enhanced. Some appraisals will also include information about where a gemstone was mined but this is always an opinion and cannot always be determined reliably.
HOW MUCH DOES A GEMSTONE APPRAISAL COST?
A gemstone appraisal should either be charged by the hour or with a flat fee per gem. Hourly rates for appraisals can vary between $50 to $150 per hour depending on the complexity of the piece.
Appraisal fees should never be based on the value of the gemstone itself. There is a conflict of interest if the fee structure is done this way because higher valuations will result in higher fees. This can incentivize an unethical appraisal to inflate the value of your gemstone.
Some gems are more complex than others and this will likely affect the price of your appraisal. A jewelry appraisal for a simple gold or platinum wedding ring, for example, will generally cost you less than a diamond appraisal for an engagement ring with multiple stones included in the setting.
Gemstone Appraisal Locations Near You
Many jewelers do appraisals, so your local jeweler may be a good place to get your gemstone appraised near you. This service is not free: it requires time and expertise. Look for a professional gemological credential, including one from the American Gem Society, National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, Certified Insurance Appraiser, ISA, or CAPP.
Make sure you tell the gemological appraiser the purpose of the appraisal. An appraisal for retail replacement value will be quite different from an appraisal for selling a gemstone, which will use the wholesale liquidation value.
Exercise caution when a jeweler provides an appraisal with your purchase that indicates a gem is worth more than you paid or assesses a gem purchased from a competitor as worth less than you paid. These documents are commercial in nature and aren't always completely objective.
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Gemstone Certificates and Laboratory Reports
A gemstone laboratory is the best place to receive a detailed and objective gemstone report with information on quality, origin and treatments. They use high-tech equipment to identify and describe a gem in detail. The following are the most well-respected institutes for gemstone laboratory reports
Gemstone certificates include information on color, clarity, carat weight, dimensions, whether or not a gemstone has been enhanced, whether a gemstone is lab-grown or naturally mined, and the gemstone country of origin. A report will also mention any chips or scratches. What a lab report does not include is a gem's value. For that you need a gemstone appraisal.
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Gemstone Value Factors: The 4Cs of Gemstones
Gemstone Carat Weight
This most basic and familiar aspect of gemstone valuation is carat weight. One carat is equivalent to 0.2 grams. What might surprise you is that because different gem varieties have different densities, one-carat gems of different varieties are different sizes.
A one carat emerald is much larger than a one-carat sapphire. Conversely, when you are matching sizes, you will need different carat weights. A 6mm round diamond weighs about 0.90 carats, a 6mm sapphire weighs about 1.05 carats, and a 6mm round emerald weighs about 0.80 carats. Different cutting styles can result in even more dramatic differences, since each gem handles light a bit differently. The ideal proportions are different for each gem.
The scale for gem color is entirely different from that of a diamond. The color scale goes from very light to dark. For most gem varieties, it is color saturation that is the most important gem value factor. The more vivid the red of ruby, the blue of sapphire, or the green of emerald, the more valuable that gem will be, all other things being equal. It is common that gems are treated to enhance their color. Treatments include; heating, drilling, fracture filling, and diffusion.
Unlike diamonds, most gems have inclusions. These let you know that a gem is natural. In general, the paler the color, the more inclusions affect value, since they are easier to see. Some gems, like emerald and pink tourmaline are very difficult to find without some inclusions so gems without eye-visible inclusions are very rare and valuable.
A well-cut colored gemstone exhibits even color, an acceptable number of inclusions, good brilliance and even color. While there are several shapes that hold different value due to popularity at any given time, it is not entirely related to the quality of the cut. Standard Gemstone cuts are; Round Brilliant Cut, Oval Cut, Baguette Cut, Square Cut, Trilliant Cut, Pear Cut, and Emerald Cut.
Gemstone Treatment and Appraisal Value
Most gemstones on the market today have been enhanced by treatments to improve their color or clarity. Common enhancements include heating sapphire and ruby to improve color, oiling emeralds with resin to decrease the visibility of inclusions, and irradiating blue topaz to create its color.
Fine rubies, sapphires and emeralds that have not been enhanced command a premium and will be accompanied by lab reports. Some treatments have a dramatic effect on value: lead glass filling and diffusion treatment of ruby and sapphire result in dramatic differences in appearance and gems treated in these ways are much less valuable.
OTHER APPRAISAL VALUE FACTORS FOR GEMSTONES
GEMSTONE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Certain mines are known for producing very fine gemstones. Fine specimens of gemstones from these localities command a premium. Burma rubies from Mogok, Kashmir sapphires, Colombian emeralds, and Russian demantoid and alexandrite are attractive to collectors and can sell for more than similar looking gems from other places if they have a lab report that confirms their country of origin. But origin alone is never a guarantee of value. Famous mines can also produce very low quality gems.
NATURAL VS GENUINE GEMSTONES
Natural gemstones are those found in nature, with no interference from humans. By the time they appear in our jewelry they've been cut or polished, but they've not been altered or treated in other ways.
A genuine gemstone is the real thing, but has been treated in some way to enhance its appearance. Enhancements allow jewelry manufacturers to improve the look of gemstones that consumers may not have purchased otherwise.
Treated gemstones are not fake, but they are no longer considered natural. If naturally "perfect" stones were the only gems available, most of us wouldn’t be able to afford them.
SYNTHETIC VS SIMULATED GEMSTONES
A synthetic gemstone is grown in a laboratory, not mined in the ground. So a synthetic ruby is a ruby but it wasn’t found in nature, it was created by people. Simulated gems, on the other hand, only look similar to the gem they represent. Cubic zirconia is the most well-known simulant: it looks like diamond but it isn’t one. A lab grown diamond, on the other hand, is an actual diamond that is made by people rather than mined.
SELLING YOUR GEMSTONE WITH WORTHY
A gemstone appraisal will tell you approximately how much your gem is worth in the free market given its particular characteristics. Of course, you only get the value of your gemstone in cash if you actually sell your gemstone.
Worthy is a leading online auction space for engagement rings, diamonds and gemstones. Our mission is to get you the absolute most money for your stone in the market by carefully curating our network of dedicated and professional jewelry buyers.
If you have a gem sitting in your jewelry chest or a piece that is no longer meaningful to you, it may be time to sell it. At Worthy, we work hard to get you the most money in a fast and transparent process. Sell your gemstone with Worthy today.