The Diamond Pro

Diamond Ring Appraisals: Everything You Need to Know

By Michael Fried
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Bottom Line Recommendation:

We recommend having your diamond ring appraised by a credentialed appraiser. With an official appraisal, you’ll be eligible to receive the full financial reimbursement for your jewelry through an insurance company. Blue Nile and James Allen are two reputable diamond vendors who provide complimentary appraisals with their engagement rings and other fine jewelry. For the what, when, why and how of appraisals, read our full article below.

For more resources on trading in or upgrading your ring, read our article here. If you’re looking to sell your ring, be sure to read this expert guide.

What is an Appraisal?

An appraisal is one form of assessing a diamond ring. This official piece of paper will describe the assigned value of your entire ring—including your diamond, other stones and your setting. Professional appraisers and jewelers provide these value assessments. In the jewelry industry, it’s standard for appraisals to be inflated, usually at 100% above the retail value.

In other words, the appraisal doesn’t represent the true value of the diamond ring. For example, this Halo Diamond ring sold for $4,582. It would likely be appraised at double the price at $9,164. And this Three-Stone engagement ring, sold at $4,172 would likely be appraised at around $8,344.

When you first receive your appraisal, it may seem like you snagged a great deal. But both the insurance company and the jeweler benefit from the elevated appraisal. Insurance companies can charge higher premiums and the jeweler can boast an excellent deal.

Because an appraisal doesn’t reflect the actual value of your diamond ring, you need to be realistic about what to expect when you sell or trade-in your stone. You may be surprised at how little you receive in comparison with your appraisal. Your appraisal is not a good indicator of what you’ll get for a resale price. It is more for insurance purposes. For additional information on what it’s like to sell your diamond, read our article on selling diamonds here.

The Difference Between an Appraisal and a Certificate

An appraisal is different than the diamond grading certificate that comes with your ring. A diamond grading report, like one from the GIA or AGS, provides details like Carat weight, Cut, Color and Clarity.  A grading certificate does not provide a dollar estimate or value like an appraisal does.

Unlike the professionals at lab grading entities, appraisers don’t have access to all of the equipment that laboratories use. In addition, despite the fact that there are appraisal societies and organizations, it’s impossible for them to be as uniform in their grading as a laboratory. In a lab, professionals are working for a single company under established guidelines and parameters. With appraisals, professionals can operate independently, or be affiliated with a small or large jewelry company.

Where to Get an Appraisal

Nearly all jewelers offer appraisals. Independent appraisers also exist, along with diamond companies that provide a complimentary appraisal with your jewelry purchase. If you’re going with an independent appraiser, there are a few things to watch for.

An Independent Appraiser: What to Know

If you buy a diamond and have it appraised independently, be very careful when choosing someone.

Firstly, you want to be sure they’re credentialed, and ideally have an educational background in gemology.

Secondly, be aware that even an accredited jeweler, appraiser or gemologist can be tempted to be harsh in their appraisal of your ring. They might bash a ring you bought from another source if they think they can convince you to buy something from them. Their incentive is that the profit on a ring is significantly higher than the charge for an appraisal. Even if there is an appraiser that works “independently,” they may receive kickbacks for referrals. Because of these financial kickbacks, they can be tempted to be harsh.

When agreeing to an appraisal, always state upfront that you already purchased the diamond and are unable to return it. This way, they have no incentive to bash the ring unnecessarily. Certainly, not all jewelers or appraisers work like this, but you should protect yourself in case you run into the exception to the rule.

Thirdly, try to have your appraisal conducted in front of your eyes to verify that your ring isn’t switched with another one. You can also familiarize yourself with your diamond’s details, such as its measurements and blemishes, to ensure you receive the correct ring in return.

To find an appraiser in your area, search The American Gem Society website.

Diamond Sellers who Provide Complimentary Appraisals

If you’re purchasing through a highly reputable diamond vendor, like James Allen or Blue Nile, your diamond ring will likely already come with an official appraisal. This saves you time, hassle and money.

With a James Allen diamond ring, your package arrives with your lab report and an appraisal. You won’t need to hunt down an appraiser or find a jewelry store to have your ring appraised.

Similar to James Allen, Blue Nile engagement rings come with a calculated appraisal using current market data. This appraisal document can be given directly to your insurance company.

Why You Should Get an Appraisal

Receiving a value appraisal for your ring is useful for two reasons:

  • Peace of mind in knowing your ring’s value is near to what you paid for it
  • Insuring your ring for its full replacement value

Appraisals are necessary for an insurance company to begin a policy for your ring. Having that official appraisal makes you eligible for the full financial investment should your ring ever be lost, stolen or damaged. You can either purchase specific ring insurance or add a rider to an existing homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

Review a few insurance plan options before selecting one that’s best for you (and gives you the most value for what you’re paying).

When You Should Get an Appraisal

As soon as you have your ring in hand, you can have it appraised (unless it already came with an appraisal from Blue Nile or James Allen). The earlier you have your ring appraised, the better. That way, you can get your ring insured immediately—leaving you with one less thing to worry about.

Because the cost of diamonds and precious metals rise over time, have your ring appraised every five years. With an appraisal that’s a decade old, the recorded value of your ring will likely be far less than what it’s actually worth. And you want to make sure you receive the full current value of the ring should anything happen to it.

Cost of an Appraisal

Most appraisals cost a fee, unless of course, your diamond ring comes with an appraisal. Based on the appraiser’s expertise and your geographical location, the rate can range anywhere from $45-$155 per hour. An extremely low rate, or a rate that’s based on a percentage of the jewelry’s value, are two warning signs to steer clear. Choose an appraiser with a flat rate, or one who charges by the hour or by the piece. Ask for a minimum fee before committing.

For additional questions on diamonds or engagement rings, contact our experts.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
Top Recommended Vendors
Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. Blue Nile is currently running their biggest sale ever! (Click here for details)
What we love about them:
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  • Provide insurance appraisal
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James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
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