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What is a jewellery valuation and why do I need it?

Having jewellery valued for insurance can seem like an extra headache and expense, but creating your own Antiques Roadshow moment is hugely important

September 7, 2021 By Rachael Taylor

If you’ve been looking into insuring your jewellery collection, you might have been asked to secure a valuation – but what exactly is a jewellery valuation and why is it so important?


In short, a jewellery valuation is exactly what it sounds like. It is an assessment, carried out by an expert, that determines the value of a piece of jewellery. Many factors are taken into consideration when assigning a value, such as the materials used, the quality of any gemstones, a jewel’s age, provenance and condition, as well as how it was made and by whom.


You are probably more familiar with this process than you think. If you’ve ever tuned into BBC Antiques Roadshow and watched experts Joanna Hardy, John Benjamin or Kate Flitcroft deliver jaw-dropping news about a jewel left gathering dust in the attic or plucked from a car boot sale, you’ve witnessed a valuation.



Valuing jewellery requires serious expertise

To become a member of the Institute of Registered Valuers, or JVA Registered Valuers, a jeweller must have valuation, gemmological and diamond grading qualifications and at least five years’ experience in the jewellery industry. Valuations are by no means guess work.


The reason that valuations are so important when it comes to insuring your jewellery collection is that it determines what you will receive should you need to make a claim. Insurers will not pay any more than the amount of the policy you’ve taken out, so if you have taken out a £10,000 insurance policy on your engagement ring, that is the maximum amount you will have to spend on a replacement, regardless of the true like-for-like replacement cost. This is why precision, and regular revaluations through the years, are vital.


Not all jewellery needs to be valued to be insured, although it is still important that you will be able to substantiate the amount for which you wish to claim at the time of making a claim. At specialist jewellery insurance broker TH March, there is a £1,000 threshold. Anything with a value less than this can be insured without a valuation, as long as you can provide proof of ownership with, for example, a receipt. For anything pricier, valuations are mandatory.



Two lines or a 10-page document?

When it comes to securing a valuation, not all assessments are equal, explains Joanna Hammett, a personal insurance team leader at TH March: “Jewellers or valuers will normally assess the jewellery in the same way, but the valuation document can vary in its appearance and content when produced. We see valuations containing several pages that will describe the item, characteristics and the way it’s made in minute detail that may also include a full glossary of terms that the jeweller may have used in the description, and further applicable notes. Others may contain the full information we need in order to verify the piece but may be contained in two or three lines. We will work with either but the more information the better if it comes to a replacement claim. Costs for valuations do vary between jewellers or valuers so we always recommend that clients carry out their own research to find a jeweller that will meet their needs.”


As well as describing the jewellery in detail for insurance purposes, it can also act as a historical document to provide provenance for important pieces. This can be beneficial should you ever wish to sell the jewellery at auction. It can also paint a beautiful chronological portrait of a gem to be cherished by family members as the jewellery travels through the generations.


There is another, more modern, reason for slightly wordier valuations when it comes to taking out jewellery insurance policies. “I’ve been working for TH March for 11 years, and in that time there has been a lot more emphasis put on the details of a jewel, such as the specific characteristics of a diamond and also on designers,” says Joanna. She credits not only the internet, and its never-ending pool of information for creating “more savvy” jewellery shoppers, who are clued up on the Four Cs, but also the expansion of the contemporary jewellery scene that has opened up our jewellery boxes to more unusual jewels not easily replicated on the homogeneous high street. “The difference between the good and the brilliant valuations is that the more in-depth reports will explain how the ring was made in the first place – whether it was cast or handmade – which can have a bearing on how it is valued,” she says.



Putting a value on design

Who has made a piece of jewellery will also have a bearing on the replacement value. A plain silver ring bought at a gift shop will typically not have the same value as a similar design by famous jewellery house.


If you have a collection of designer jewellery, it is important to explore the Ts&Cs of your insurance policy to ensure this will be taken into consideration. If you do not, you could find yourself being asked to replace a jewellery item from a jewellery designer with an equivalent specification item from a jeweller who perhaps doesn’t supply that exact design.


“It often only becomes apparent in the event of a claim, when they realise they’ve got a voucher in their hand and they’ve only got, say, three jewellers of the insurer’s choice that they can spend it in,” warns Joanna. TH March, she says, does not operate this way, but replaces like with like wherever possible, taking elements such as the designer of the piece into consideration. “99 times out of a hundred, they want to go back to same jeweller,” she says of her clients.



The valuation process

When it comes to getting a good valuation, Joanna says that TH March doesn’t endorse one valuer over another, but there is one style of valuer that she advises collectors to stay away from, and that is companies offering valuations based solely on seeing photographs of a piece rather than evaluating the piece physically. The problem with these sorts of services, which tend to lure clients in with cheap fees and the ease of ‘online valuations’ is that, as well as failing to test the metal or properly assess the gemstones, it also opens the process up to fraud.


As well as the perceived hassle of organising a valuation, people may also be concerned about the possible cost, which can feel like just one more expense on top of paying for the insurance policy itself. But with more than a decade of experience in this area, Joanna has seen enough horror stories to urge jewellery lovers to properly protect precious jewels, and the cost of arranging a valuation is a small price to pay should you have to make a claim as it will make the process of proving the value so much easier.


“Cost does put people off getting regular revaluations, which is a shame really because it is just such an important factor of having the piece insured,” she says. “That’s the gamble, isn’t it? Everybody’s weighing up the pros and cons all the time, but unfortunately it’s not a very nice conversation to have with somebody when they realise that they are underinsured.” So, when it comes to properly valuing and insuring your jewellery, gamblers beware.




To arrange your jewellery or watch insurance policy, or get a quick quote, visit TH March





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