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Sizing Up Assets

By: Tracey Kahle

Recent events have led us to pay more attention to our assets and preserve the ones that remain. Each day there is an ever-changing mood in the marketplace, at times a feeling of confidence, other times a sense of fear. This is why now, more than ever, financial institutions have an increased responsibility to protect their clients’ assets.

It’s often surprising that when assets include jewelry or gemstones, the value of these precious belongings can encompass a large part of a client’s estate. With that in mind, it’s important to have a qualified and reliable appraiser to call upon. Whether the client is involved in estate planning, purchasing an insurance policy, or filing for bankruptcy, a professional appraiser can report accurate information essential to the situation at hand.  

Before seeking out a professional jewelry appraiser, or evaluating a current working relationship, one must understand the credentials of the professional appraiser and how to best work with appraisers to provide the highest level of protection for client investment.

Buyer Beware

Beware, not all jewelry appraisers are equal. Since there is no current federal or state regulation overseeing personal property appraisers, anyone can present himself or herself as a “jewelry appraiser”. What is a qualified appraiser and how does one find a qualified appraiser? Professional organizations such as the International Society of Appraisers or the American Society of Appraisers, among others, can provide names of qualified appraisers in your area who practice within the specialty your situation requires. 

These organizations have specific criteria an appraiser must meet in order to obtain certification. A jewelry appraiser, for instance, must have successfully completed the Graduate Gemologist course through the Gemological Institute of America. Additionally, the appraiser must complete courses and pass exams, administered through a recognized appraisal association, to achieve accreditation within that association. The appraiser must then periodically re-qualify to retain their credentials. Most importantly, reputable appraisal associations also require their members to adhere to the standards set forth in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices.

In-House Capabilities

Furthermore, is the jewelry appraiser fully equipped to carry out the job? Very few jewelers are outfitted with a complete standard gemological laboratory. Specific gemological equipment must be on hand in order to perform a comprehensive gemological examination, determining with great accuracy the identity and quality of the gemstones. Ask if the appraiser works on-site, as a glance is not enough to determine value.  

One Shoe Doesn’t Fit All

There are several reasons why your client may need an appraisal for their gemstones and jewelry. It is a common misconception that only one type of appraisal meets the requirements of all circumstances. But, in fact, various situations call for specific types of appraisals and researching different values.

For example, in estate planning, your client may choose to bequeath some of their jewelry pieces to family members or a special person in their lives. An equitable distribution appraisal is appropriate for this situation.

Whether dealing with equitable distribution or estate administration and taxes, fair market value is the suitable approach to determining value. In addition, when handling estate tax filings, the IRS requires that the values researched correspond to the date of death of the decedent (or the alternate date).

Do Yourself a Favor

The reasons for a bank professional to consult with an appraiser are wide-ranging. But who you work with says as much about the outcome as anything. Similar to the financial industry, credentials talk and, just like legal regulations, valuation and market standards are continually changing. Finding a qualified appraiser will ensure that your valued clients are well served.  Protecting their interests is, after all, top priority. 

Tracey Kahle is a G.G. (GIA), I.S.A. A.M. appraiser for Tivol, Kansas City.

Copyright © July 2009 BankNews Publications