Tip 1: Determine Your Jewelry's Current Market Value
It’s important to have a professional written jewelry appraisal done to make certain you have your item insured at its correct value. This is especially true if the item is an heirloom or hasn't recently been purchased.
If your piece of jewelry is new, the purchase receipt can help determine the value. Prior insurance carrier declarations are also good documentation to have on hand if it's been insured before. And it’s also recommended to take pictures of your piece and keep them with your professional written appraisal.
Keep in mind that the value of jewelry can change over time, so it’s important to have an appraisal done every few years and keep your policy updated to ensure adequate coverage
How is a jewelry appraisal value determined? Like any antique, value for jewelry is determined based on its age, quality, beauty, rarity, provenance, and condition, overlaid by current taste for a particular style. Jewelry expert Mark Schaffer, a principal at A La Vieille Russie, says that “an Arts and Crafts-style ring might vary in value, for example, while a traditional platinum-mounted diamond shows less fluctuation in popularity level.”
If a stone of significance, like a large central diamond, is the main feature of a piece of jewelry, then the value of the entire piece will be greatly influenced by that stone's value, normally without regard to its age, unless there’s an appealing story or it's a particularly desirable period cut.
Tip 2: Get Your Jewelry Insured
Insure your new jewelry in a timely fashion after acquisition. You'll want to make sure you're covered even if something were to happen in the days after purchasing or receiving it as a gift. Once you have jewelry insurance, keep your current appraisal, policy information, photos, and any documentation about the piece in a safe place should you ever need to make a claim.
How do you insure your jewelry? Start by determining how much personal property insurance coverage you have under your standard homeowners or renters policy. Most of the time, you'll be covered up to a certain limit if the piece is stolen.
But your standard coverage may only cover part of the jewelry’s cost. Plus, there's usually no coverage if the piece is lost or damaged, so you may have to add additional coverage to insure the full cost should you ever need to replace the piece. This is called scheduling property, which means you're increasing the amount of insurance coverage for an individual item. For high-value items like engagement rings, the item is on a "schedule" and insured separately — not covered under the general personal property limit. Usually you can expect to pay between $1 and $2 per $100 of the item's value — i.e., 1 to 2 percent — per year to have it included on your policy.
Keep in mind that the value of jewelry can change over time, so it’s important to have an appraisal done every few years and keep your policy updated to ensure adequate coverage.
Tip 3: Take Care of Your Piece!
Properly caring for your jewelry is most important of all. Antique jewelry requires different attention than new jewelry, but not by much. Rings are especially vulnerable since they’re worn all the time. Old prongs and settings might bend or break more easily than new, and the most severe risk is that a stone is lost after a prong is caught on a glove or sweater.
It’s also important to note that in most cases it’s not advisable to remove an old stone from its old mount for grading, since the mount could be damaged in the process. Have settings checked periodically, and be mindful that particular stones, such as emeralds, are more fragile than diamonds.