After you've chosen a beautiful piece of jewelry, your next decision should be how to insure it against loss, damage and theft.
The first step in getting your jewelry protected is having it appraised by a jewelry professional. An appraisal is an opinion as to the authenticity, quality, design and value of a piece of jewelry. Since it is an opinion, backed and supported by training, equipment and experience, it is important to understand that there can be honest variations between competent appraisals.
Most people commonly believe that the declared price evaluation is the most important aspect of an appraisal. This is not true! Actually, the most important part (and the most protective to you) is an explicit description of the jewelry item, accurately depicting the design, the metal and the stones. Having pictures of the jewelry taken at different angles is an added benefit. This not only helps describe the piece, but also helps you to replace it with one like it, should something happen. If there is a brand name or any patented features included in the design, or a certificate for one of the stones, these should also be noted on the appraisal.
To keep in line with inflation, items are factored and appraised to cover loss or theft for a period of 2 to 3 years. In order to be sure that you are covered for full replacement of your item, you want to be sure to get it updated or re-appraised every 3 years or so. This is a timeframe guideline which is completely determined by the market price of precious metals, gemstones, and labor. We try to value each item with some inflation, but at the same time, we don’t want you to over insure your jewelry and pay a higher premium than necessary.
To give yourself the benefits of the most accurate appraisal possible, heed these points:
- Keep all paperwork from the purchase of your piece that states any specifics such as carat weight, color, clarity, gram weight, etc. The jeweler from whom you have purchased your piece should provide with the exact details describing the piece and many may provide you with an appraisal at the time of purchase. Jewelry that is appraised without these specifics can only be “guestimated” for carat weight, color and clarity once the stones are mounted into the setting.
- Don’t try to save money on an appraisal. For a professional evaluation, expect to pay a fair fee, usually based on an hourly rate. The more intricate the jewelry, the more time needed to thoroughly evaluate it.
- Choose a place with a good reputation and longevity in the community.
- Don’t rush your appraiser. Give him/her adequate time to clean, check and carefully examine and evaluate every facet of your jewelry. Keep in mind, that jewelry and gemstones must be perfectly clean in order to grade them properly. If there is a great deal of dirt or build up behind the stones, pieces may have to soak for a day or two in a sonic cleaner for them to be clean enough to evaluate.
- Remember, appraisals do not represent an offer to purchase or replace your jewelry.
After getting your appraisal, you can ask for an additional rider under your home-owners insurance policy, or you can get a separate policy written through a separate agency, such as Jewelers Mutual. (see www.jewelersmutual.com)
Most home-owners insurance policies have a certain amount of jewelry coverage worked into your normal coverage. This is usually something like $2,000 or $2,500 per item, incurs a deductible, and only covers you for theft, with a filed police report. You need an additional rider added to this policy to insure full replacement coverage on your jewelry.
Top Five Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent
- What is my current coverage for jewelry and can I purchase a rider on my home-owners policy for my high value items?
- What is the annual premium for the rider covering my appraised jewelry?
- What does the rider cover: theft, loss and accidental damage?
- Is there a deductible? If so, how much?
- Will I be allowed to select the jeweler for repair or replacement?
Okay, there are really seven questions...
- Will I receive full replacement value… how is that determined?
- How often do I need to provide updated appraisals?
Some insurance companies will require you to get regular inspections of your jewelry to help reduce losses and to alert you of any small problems that may arise from regular wear, such as loose stones, worn prongs, faulty clasps, etc. We recommend having your jewelry checked at least every 4 to 6 months (more frequently if you are hard on your jewelry) so that such things can be identified before they become bigger problems.
Of course, when you have your jewelry checked, you have the additional benefit of having it professionally cleaned and polished, as well.
Security System Discount
If you have a security system or safe in your home, be sure to ask your insurance agent whether they offer any type of discounted rate for having these added security features.
Remember to get your appraisals updated approximately every 3 years and re-submit the new appraisal to your insurance company. Don’t forget to keep it insured if you move to another insurance company or change your policy.
Jewelry insurance is easy to forget about and seems unimportant…until the day something happens. Don’t take that risk, especially on jewelry that is worn every day like your wedding/engagement rings.