This blog is written for selfish reasons. I want to discuss pricing and selection of appraisals.
I am in Delaware. My pricing is normally $80 for the first piece appraised, $60 for the second and $40 for every one after that. Despite my costly insurance, a large amount of Gemological equipment purchased and a lifetime of jewelry knowledge (avoiding the obvious opportunity to be sued over every opinion) the public complains that much of my work is “too expensive”. Many of my compatriots in California will charge two or three times my prices. Your answer may be, Yeah, but it’s California! My response is that, yes, the cost of living is higher there. But the Gemological Institute of America is also located in that state, (with a small, satellite office in New York City); there are many California Gemologists available (and I am one.) The law of supply and demand would normally make Jewelry Appraising less available on the East coast than the West, therefore more costly here. I don’t begrudge my California Gemological friends a single dime of their fees. Many, many are wonderful, hard-working professionals. It’s just a shame that clients in my area mistakenly feel that appraising should be a free service. Oftentimes, traveling appraisers in retail stores charge customers twice their normal fees, as 50% (or more) automatically goes to the store and the remainder is for him or her. I know this as I used to travel within the stores of a large, retail jewelry chain.
Another point to consider is that many stores provide appraisals for what they sell. Often, this may be enough to satisfy the Insurance companies. However, even though stores may have “Gemologists” on staff to provide this service, people with the same title as me (Graduate Gemologist) do not produce the same type or quality of appraisal. Two examples:
1) All Attorneys are not capable of the same services. Some do court work, some prefer to settle cases and others specialize in tax work. Similarly, all Gemologists cannot produce quality appraisals as either they are affiliated with a certain store (and their opinions are shaped by this) and/or they specialize in something else (buying, selling or a myriad of other jobs.) Plus, they don’t have access to either the proper Gemological equipment and/or current pricing information to produce an accurate appraisal. Independent appraisers exist solely to assist their clients. Plus, they spend the bulk of their time doing one thing: Appraising jewelry.
2) Virtually any home owner can do plumbing or electrical work. However, licensed Plumbers and Electricians are capable of doing a much faster and more professional job. They have specialized equipment and greater familiarity with many conditions/problems. They will charge more than some do-it-yourselfers may be willing to pay, even though their work is done more quickly AND professionally. Jewelry Appraising is the same.
Although I feel that my pricing and my work should be utilized by a large number of clients, many people disagree and prefer so-called “free” appraisals. Keep in mind that when a loss happens, ”You get what you pay for”.