Here at Belgian Diamonds, we have 2 Graduate Gemologists on staff as well as a full manufacturing jeweler with over 35 years of experience in custom design and knowledge of jewelry construction and metalworking techniques.
What is an appraisal?
First of all, it's important to understand what a jewelry appraisal is and what it is not.
Having someone take a glance at a piece for a few moments and giving a verbal 'ballpark' value is NOT an appraisal.
A formal appraisal doesn't have to be done by someone with a rocket science degree.
What an appraisers does require is the knowledge of and experience with the items being examined as well as the understanding in how todays insurance institutions and estate laws function. If an appraiser were lacking these skills, the appraisal wouldn't be worth anymore than the paper it's scribbled on (which is how many are still done today)!
What is the time frame required for an appraisal?
This all depends on the complexity of the item. A simple diamond solitaire generally takes 30-40 minutes while a bracelet containing 7 different size sapphires, 9 fancy shape diamonds and 29 'other' stones might take 3-4 hours.
Some items are not very common and additional research to find similar items may be required. Our associates in other fields (vintage or antique watches and jewelry, dealers of unusual colored gems) may be asked for their imput for the appraisal to be reasonably accurate.
What is the appraisal process?
We do not do 'while you wait' appraisals specifically for that reason. We want to make sure that your piece recieves the attention it deserves.
In order to accurately describe and evaluate a piece of jewelry, several steps must take place.
The metals used in construction are determined as well as their purity ( what karat?) Platinum, silver or gold? Perhaps it's not precious metal at all? (Base metal).
The construction method used to create the piece is explained. Is it cast, hand fabricated or die struck. One method costs a fraction of the other, making this an important aspect of the appraisal value.
The types of stones in the item are evaluated. How many are there, what do they weigh, are they natural or synthetic, have they been treated, repaired or damaged, etc.
Only on very rare occasions do any stones EVER need to be removed, and only in the presence of the customer. We are able to calculate the weights of mounted stones mathematically by measuring each stone and can generally be accurate within 5%.
Then in the case of diamonds, we measure the depth, width, note finish and proportions like table, culet and girdle.
Insurance companies today require complete and accurate information in order to assess replacement. Any information they feel is lacking is always a loophole to reject a claim.
Are there different types of appraisals?
There are, but for most applications, only 2 types are requested. The most common type of appraisal is an Insurance Replacement Value. This will determine what a similar item may cost to replace on the average retail market.
The 2nd most common type is the Estate Value. This type will determine a Fair Market Value (FMV) and is usually used for probate/estate taxes and values.
A Fair Market Value is also much closer to it's "real" value in that by definition, "...is a value realized between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither under any compulsion to buy or sell".
What's the difference between an Appraisal and what it's "worth"?
An appraisal gives an estimated value based on the examined facts and all of the contained relevent information contained in a report.
The "value" of what it's truly worth? Whatever you can sell it for, regardless of someones appraisal. Just because someone has an 'appraisal' that states an amount of $50,000.00 doesn't make it so, it's still only worth what the highest bidder is offering to pay.
The Kelly Blue book may say your car is worth $20,000.00 but the highest bid (or offer to buy) you've received is only $11,000.00? Then $11,000.00 is what it's worth. Less $12.95 for the book.
If you're looking to sell a piece of jewelry, in most cases an appraisal isn't going to make much difference, the buyer is still only going to pay what they feel it's worth to them. So, mulitiple bids (offers to buy), is what's needed to find the highest offer and thus, the true worth or value.
The appraisal on the other hand will at least give you complete information as to what components (stones, metal, natural, synthetic, etc.) are contained in the piece.
How are rings sized?
This depends on whether they're going up or down and whether it's been sized before (has a soldering seam) and what metal or stones it may contain.
If the ring is going up only a small amount (maybe between 1/8 and ) size, the ring can be placed on a solid metal mandrel (a metal 'stick') and with a special hammer, be 'tapped up'. If the ring requires a larger size, it is cut at the bottom with a very fine saw. A piece of metal (the same as the ring) is welded into place and filed to conform and polished.
The advantage to welding is that it creates NO solder seam to break or weaken. Most jewelers don't weld, they solder the piece into place beause it's easier and less expensive for the jeweler. The problem with this is, if the ring flexes or bends on the solder joint, it may break. Whenever we can, we weld creating a continous ring.
The same process applies to rings that are being sized down (though they can't be 'tapped down'), a piece is removed and welded.
In the case of straight bands, we use a special tapered die that the band fits into and it's compressed to make it smaller. This device also has an expanding mandrel to stretch the ring. Again, if there is a solder seam, we can't do this without risk of it breaking at the seam. Welded rings have no such problem.
Other areas of sizing that may prove problematic are of those rings that have surrounding stones and the way in which they're set.
Because sizing a ring changes the curvature (creating a smaller or larger circle) some stones become loose or are actually set tighter. Tighter is better (larger sizing) for obvious reasons.
The metal that's being worked with also requires special skill sets. Platinum melts and a much higher temperature than gold and if not prepared properly, the torch can burn the surrounding stones. This is where our jewelers 35 years of experience and knowledge of platinum and it's properties pay off.
We change batteries on all types of watches (and small clocks) from Cartier to Casio. The batteries on both are essentially the same, but the design of the watch and they way to get in is the difference.
Will my watch still be "WaterProof"?
99% of all watches ARE NOT WATERPROOF to begin with. They're water resistent. This means you can get caught in the rain or get pushed into the pool without damage. It's not the water itself but the depths and pressure that force the water in. If the back of the watch has a 'screw off' back like a submarine hatch, it's much more water resistent than the style back that has small screws or 'pops off' with a special tool.
Most of the time, any of these watches will be at the same level of protection after a battery change as before. We find that most watches fail during daylight savings time change (twice a year) because it's at this point people pull out the stem to change the time and forget to close it or screw it back down. Traveling to a different time zone comes in second (think; going to Hawaii, changing the time then going for an ocean swim).
We can usually adjust, remove or add most bracelet links as well as punch holes in leather bands. Some watch designers have a proprietary tool for their bracelet styles and may not be possible for us to adjust and some lesser cost pieces may assemble their bracelets THEN plate them essentially plating the pins in place, like painting the window shut.
We would love to gift wrap your purchase! We have over 10 different styles of paper as well as seasonal prints for Valentines or the Holidays. There is never any charge for this service.