When taking an item for jewelry appraisal services, it can seem difficult to understand why the appraiser might give you a particular valuation for the item. If you're curious about how a professional arrives at a specific number, it's good to learn about these different factors.
The 4 C's
Of the jewelry appraisal concepts that the general public is most likely to be familiar with, the 4 C's are probably at the top. They are cut, color, clarity and carat weight, and they're typically most relevant when dealing with anything that has gems in them, especially diamonds. Standards are set in the U.S. by the Gemological Institute of America, which publishes a surprisingly large amount of materials on the subject.
Which of the C's are most important varies based on the type of gem in question. For example, the saturation of the colors in a ruby is far more relevant than it is for most other stones, unsurprisingly.
Some pieces of jewelry are judged largely based on their overall craftsmanship, especially pieces like gold rings. If a piece is seen as highly representative of a specific period in history, such as the Victorian era, it will likely have a somewhat higher value thanks to its attractiveness to collectors who are focused on that time period. Also, general craftsmanship speaks for itself, and any piece that has any provenance tying it to a historically well-known jeweler will inevitably be more desirable.
The reality of pricing any item of jewelry is that the larger market plays a role. In times where demand is high for the raw materials that make up jewelry items, such as gold, there will also be a commensurate rise in the prices of anything that utilizes those materials. Demand can be driven by many factors, including industrial demand, but the one that tends to dominate is economic uncertainty. This is because jewelry is often seen as a way to sequester wealth in times when inflation may wipe out some of the value of cash money.
Finding an Appraiser
In most cities of any size in America, you will find at least a handful of people who deal with jewelry appraisals and similar valuations. If you're concerned about professional qualifications, the American Gem Society and the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers are professional trade associations that maintain standards for many participants in the industry throughout the country.