Who can call himself a jeweler?
Who can call herself an appraiser?
Yes, these are trick questions. The answer to both of them is: Anyone.
There is no federal or independent body setting qualifications for who may be a jeweler or a jewelry appraiser. Though these may sound like impressive titles, backed by study and expertise, literally anyone can hang out a shingle as a jeweler or an appraiser.
The accuracy of both the description and the valuation of your jewelry depends on the reliability of the jeweler/appraiser. In one investigation, TV reporters took a piece of jewelry to several jewelers for appraisal and received widely varying valuations. Even the same jeweler came up with different valuations for the same piece, presented on different occasions.
Gemological training is crucial. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) awards a Graduate Gemologist degree after a 6-month course, which can be taken either on site or as a home study course. Yet most jewelers are not Graduate Gemologists. A JCRS study of appraisals from 21 insurance companies found that only 21% of them were prepared by Graduate Gemologists.
Some retailers without a GG degree have learned their business on the job, but others are not even familiar with basic jewelry terminology or grading systems. This lack of knowledge shows up in many "appraisals" written on fancy letterhead but with little content.
Most jewelry retailers do not have a gem lab, with instruments to properly examine a stone and determine its quality. They must either rely on the word of their suppliers or simply guess. In one TV expose', a number of retailers in New York City's Diamond District misidentified moissanite, an imitation diamond, as genuine diamond.
Even Graduate Gemologists may not understand how insurers and customers use an appraisal and so may leave out crucial information. Certified Insurance Appraisers™ (CIA™) are Graduate Gemologists who have taken additional training in writing appraisals for insurance.
CIAs warrant that they have inspected the jewelry in a gemological lab. They write complete and detailed appraisals on the industry standard JISO 78/79 jewelry appraisal, and they stand behind their appraisals.
We strongly encourage working through a Certified Insurance Appraiser™ if there is one in your area. Use this form to locate a specially trained CIA™ in your area.
When completing the request form below, please be sure to include your complete phone number (with area code). Also, please double-check your email address — if it is not entered accurately, we will not be able to provide you with the contact information for CIAs!
Shopping Considerations and Caveats
- See Appraisal for the importance of a detailed appraisal when buying and insuring jewelry.