Alpha Gem Lab
Closed Wednesdays and weekends.
1) Why should I have my jewelry appraised?
Appraisals serve many purposes. Clients often ask, "What is it worth?" I respond, "For what purpose?" Do you want to insure the item? Do you want to sell it? Are you settling an estate? A single piece of jewelry may have many values depending on the purpose of the appraisal. Appraisals aren't "one size fits all."
2) I received an appraisal when I bought my jewelry. Do I need another one?
An appraisal by definition is the average of what an item may sell for in a particular area. If the selling jeweler prepares the document, the value isn't necessarily based on market research, but rather what he/she feels it should sell for. This is a Document of Sale, not an appraisal. Remember, the insurance that most people purchase is Replacement Insurance. If the item is lost or stolen, the insurance company will REPLACE it with like kind and quality. IF the appraisal from the jeweler states a substantially higher value than what you paid, then you will be paying higher insurance premiums (the result of the feel-good effect that made you think you got a great deal). Could my appraisal value be more than what you paid? Yes, assuming that you did get a good deal (fortunately, a frequent occurrence).
Lastly, a jeweler may not have the training or equipment to properly measure angles, proportions and other characteristics of gemstones. Such information is critical to insure that you would receive nearly identical insurance replacement of your jewelry.
3) Why do I need an independent appraiser rather than a jeweler?
A jeweler's primary business is to sell jewelry. Their appraisals are often performed by a sales person during spare time. An independent appraiser specializes in performing fair and impartial appraisals. My education is in both gemological science ("What is it?") and valuation science ("What is it worth?").
4) Is my jewelry covered under my homeowner's insurance policy? Can I buy insurance on just my jewelry?
You would need to discuss this with your insurance agent. Typically, jewelry of significant value must be insured under a rider to your policy. At least one company, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., does offer policies specifically for jewelry. For further information, find them on-line.
5) How often should I have my jewelry appraised?
Appraisals are written to be valid for a limited period of time. Some markets, such as the precious metals market are volatile. Prices for colored stones can change dramatically from year to year. It is recommended that you get your jewelry appraisal updated every two to three years.
6) What is the difference between a grading report and an appraisal?
A grading report from an international laboratory such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a quality analysis of the diamond or colored stone. It does not provide a valuation. An appraisal includes a description of quality and proportions as well as a value appropriate for the appraisal's purpose. (See question #1.)
7) What information is included in an Alpha Gem Lab appraisal?
The appraisal report will initially state the intended use (purpose) of the report. The heart of the report will include the client's name, address, date and report number. There will be a verbal description of the item as well as a digital photograph. A further description of the item will include a breakdown of the piece into its component parts: feature stone, accent stones, mounting. These descriptions will include type of stone, measurements, carat weight, clarity, color, proportions, plot of inclusions (feature diamond only), metal content, weight, method of manufacture and trademarks.
8) What information should I bring to the appointment?
An appraisal is considered a legal document. I cannot rely on someone else's work, even if you have a previous formal appraisal. If you have documentation of the actual weight of stones that are mounted, please bring that with you. I will be taking measurements and using mathematical formulas to determine weights without removing stones from their settings. Verification from any documentation you may have is helpful.
If you have a diamond report from an international laboratory (GIA, EGL, AGS) we ask that you bring it along. After we have completed our analysis of the diamond, I will ask to see the report so that I may scan it and include it in your appraisal document.
9) Do I need an appointment?
While walk-ins are welcome, an appointment is recommended. Time is set aside for you. If you stop by without an appointment, we may be able to see you right away, but more likely than not, you will have a long wait in our waiting room.
10) Do I have to leave my jewelry with you?
No. Most people don't like to leave their jewelry for several days. Here, you will sit right across the desk from me and observe the entire appraisal process. You can also ask questions about your jewelry.
If you feel comfortable doing so however, you are welcome to drop off your jewelry in the morning and pick it up at the end of the day.
11) Do gems have to be removed from their settings?
No. While some mountings can restrict observation of some parts of a stone, it is still possible to obtain measurements needed to estimate carat weight.
12) What do appraisals cost and how long does it take?
Estate and research appraisals are based on an hourly fee. Insurance appraisals are based on a per-item fee. Please call for an estimate. Remember that it is unethical to charge an appraisal fee based on the value of an item. When you hire an appraiser, you are seeking professional advice. As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for." My fees take into account professional training, lab equipment, dues and subscriptions, books and other reference material, business overhead and time. Anything less than a professional document will not stand up to scrutiny in court, or protect you when filing an insurance claim.
For an appraisal of a single item of jewelry, you should allow one-half to three-quarters of an hour. Much depends on the complexity of the piece and how many questions you may have. As a general rule, add another 15-20 minutes per piece for additional items. In most cases, the appraisal report can be printed while you are here. With multiple items or those needing research, I try to have the report in the mail within 24-48 hours.
13) I can't bring my jewelry to the lab. Can you come to me?
Our lab in Colonie is designed with special lighting to provide optimum conditions for examining jewelry. Such lighting would not be available in your home or office. Additionally, we have other gemological tools and equipment that are difficult to transport.
14) I'm getting married and want to buy an engagement ring. Can you help me?
I am not a jeweler and do not sell to the public. To avoid preferential treatment, we cannot recommend a specific jeweler. However, we can educate you and give you the information you'll need to make a well-informed purchase. We can also examine your intended purchase and determine if it is being correctly represented for quality.