How gemological laboratory certificates differ from appraisals

by Admin 15. August 2014 15:08

What is a laboratory certificate and how is it different from an appraisal?

A laboratory certificate is a report generated by an independent laboratory indicating the characteristics of a significant diamond or color gemstone. The goal is to produce an unbiased opinion, from multiple qualified Graduate Gemologists.

A Graduate Gemologist receives a diploma following a comprehensive education of gems and gemology including identification and grading.

The criteria may vary slightly based on the laboratory’s internal policies. Check with a jewelry professional to determine which laboratory is best for you. Some laboratories issue reports on color gemstones alone, while others issue reports on both diamonds as well as color gemstones.

Unlike appraisals, laboratories do not assign values. An appraisal will reference the laboratory certificate for identification and grading, but also assigns a value for insurance or other stated purposes.

One of the benefits of having a laboratory certificate is that grading is based on human observation which may be affected by internal and external elements.  For example, someone may not grade as well if they are overly tired or have consumed too much caffeine. A stringent laboratory reduces the room for error through controlled environments, instrumentation, and multiple observers.

As consumer it provides additional security that you are receiving what you have asked for.


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How to value life diamonds part two

by Admin 15. July 2014 17:07

Since life diamonds are created from cremation ash or hair, and since the purpose of appraisals is to describe and value an article for insuring in order to replace in the event of a loss… I needed to answer two basic questions: 

What companies use this technology, and what do they charge to create a gem based on my description of shape, size, color, and clarity? 

Since the material is created from the ashes or hair someone who has passed, how could they replace the gem in the event of a loss?

If they couldn’t, how could the insurance company reach a fair value up to the limit of the appraisal on such a sentimentally valuable article?

My appraisal described the articles, and the value based on the retail replacement new to create similar gems, plus the current insurance replacement value to reconstruct the mounting.

What if the cost to produce increases over time?  This is another example of why appraisal updates are so important.

I contacted one of the companies to determine if they discount to insurance companies upon replacement.  If a jewelry owner has an agreed value policy, they would receive the limit of the value on the appraisal.  However, if a jewelry owner has an insurance policy based on replacement of like kind and quality, actual cash value at the date of the loss, the insurance company may be able to replace for less.

My most important question was, since the carbon material belonged to someone who has passed, and that the purpose of it all was a remembrance of them, how could we possibly get a replacement?

Interestingly, the answer is…..the company actual archives remaining material. 

So yes, in the unfortunate event of such a loss, your life diamond can be recreated.


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How to value life diamonds

by Admin 15. June 2014 10:06

A client came to me for an appraisal. She had a ring and a pendant, each containing a life diamond.

A life diamond is a gem which is created utilizing ashes from cremation or hair before burial. 

The client’s husband had passed away, and she had a ring made for herself, and a pendant made for her daughter.

Since diamonds are made from carbon, the process consists of extracting the carbon from the ashes or hair and processing it using a diamond press with high temperature and high pressure technology. 

The gems may be created from about ¼ carat to 1 ½ carats and may be colorless, blue, red, green or yellow.

The girdle (the outside diameter of the gem) may be laser inscribed.

Some people choose to have life diamonds made from their pets.

But, how does one go about appraising this kind of article?  And, what happens in the event of a loss?


Stay tuned for part two…


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What if you are renting?

by Admin 15. May 2014 15:05

Whether it is your first apartment home, or you are transitioning between home purchases, you need renter’s insurance. 

But, did you know that most renter’s insurance policies do not cover jewelry?

Check your policy to make sure, but most companies decline to insure jewelry when you’re renting, because they feel it is at greater risk for loss.

There are also some insurance companies who will sell you coverage for your jewelry only, even if you’re renting.

As with regular homeowners insurance, the insurance company will require an appraisal on the articles you choose to schedule. So analyze your collection and determine the articles of highest value that you want to insure. If you have pieces that you do not wear on a regular basis, consider renting a safety deposit box in a bank. Everyone believes they have good hiding places however, burglars know a lot of those too.

Also remember to ask your agent if it only covers theft and fire, or if it covers mysterious disappearance as well.

The cost is similar to homeowners insurance for jewelry and is really important to obtain, since others such as maintenance and management may have access to your unit.

In the unfortunate event of a loss, it is always helpful to have good records. Sometimes it is difficult, especially when you are stressed, to remember everything you own. Whether you are renting or not, I recommend taking photos or video of your articles, and making the descriptive inventory list. The photos or video will be proof of ownership. Your inventory list may be comprised of information from sales receipts (which you may want to save in digital form as well) or your own knowledge such as length of chains and type of gemstones. You may even use a ruler in the photograph next to the article(s) to indicate scale.

Hopefully will you will never need your documentation!


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Poor Appraisals - What is Your Responsibility?

by Admin 15. April 2014 18:04

When you get an appraisal and it has an attractive gold seal on it, it looks good, right?  Then you forward it to your insurance agent, and they think it looks good, too.  So, you get it scheduled on your insurance and everyone thinks it’s all good.  Unfortunately, it’s not until you have a loss that you may find out that perhaps the seal was the best part. 

Poor appraisals may result in you not being able to replace your jewelry in the event of a loss.

I am a third generation jeweler specializing in insurance replacements.  In order to replace an article, I (or someone like me) need to know what it is that you had.  My commitment to you and to your insurance company, as well as their commitment to you, is to put you in the position you were in prior to your loss. 

But what if we don’t know what you had?  A photo is wonderful and very helpful in recreating the design.  However, we also need items like descriptions, grading, weights and measurements to adequately replace.

Our job is to establish a current replacement cost, and/or to replace or recreate your article. 

I remember sitting across from a client trying to determine the size of a lost diamond and somewhat kiddingly asking if it had been the size of a small pea. 

Our industry has enough challenges trying to communicate color when we do this full time.  Without something on your document, imagine trying to describe the color of your missing ruby. 

It’s not your job to know if you have a good document.  It is the responsibility of the person providing the appraisal.


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