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Jewelry Appraisals vs. Lab Certificates

How Jewelry Appraisal and a Lab Certificate Differ

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Queen Elizabeth Jewelry

This Cartier diamond and platinum necklace was on display at Buckingham Palace in 2007, part of the "Royal Wedding: 20 November 1957" exhibition.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
Jewelry appraisals and lab certificates are two important reports that provide details about your gemstones and fine jewelry, but they do not serve the same purpose. Let's talk about the differences.

Lab Certificates and Grading Reports

A lab certificate or grading report documents information about an unmounted gemstone. Grading reports differ for diamonds and colored gems, but documentation for each type includes specifics about carat weight and dimensions, color and clarity grades, and items relating to the gemstone's cut and shape.

Think of a grading report as kind of a road-map of the gemstone -- the map will not change unless the gem undergoes alterations or an error was made during evaluation.

Jewelry Appraisals

A jewelry appraisal can be ordered for any item of jewelry, no matter what its composition. Gemstones can be either mounted or unmounted -- the jewelry being appraised needn't contain gemstones.

Jewelry appraisals put a dollar value on the jewelry being appraised, and are often performed for insurance purposes. An appraisal might also be necessary to settle an estate or a to divide property during divorce. Or you might just want to verify an item's true market value before you commit to a purchase.

Market values change, so most professionals recommend you have fine jewelry appraised every two years. Ask your insurance agent for a recommendation. If you use the same appraiser, it is often possible to receive an update, which is usually less costly than a brand new appraisal.

Choosing Labs and Jewelry Appraisers

Don't assume that labs and jewelry appraisers are written by qualified or unbiased people. It is best to use a professional whose services are not connected to the firm that is selling the jewelry or gemstone.

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