Rapaport Magazine
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Retail Rap

By Phyllis Schiller
DOES YOUR STORE OFFER APPRAISALS?


Coast Diamond
The 4Cs are not the only things that make a piece of diamond jewelry a sales winner. In an ongoing series, Rapaport Magazine explores the “3Ws” — what’s selling, what’s not and why — by going straight to the people who really know — jewelry retailers. Each month, we ask a sampling of retailers to comment on the important issues that are facing the industry today. Here is what they had to say when asked: “Do you offer customers appraisals? If they have an appraisal from another source, is it helpful?”

RICHARD ARGO, VICE PRESIDENT
ARGO & LEHNE JEWELERS
COLUMBUS, OHIO
   “We do appraisals. It’s not a terribly significant part in terms of percentages of total sales but it’s certainly good in terms of customer relations. We’re an American Gem Society (AGS) Accredited Gem Lab, so we’re expected to be the experts on jewelry and appraisals. We’ve developed a highly descriptive appraisal.
   “We certainly look at any outside appraisals for items we are appraising, but we don’t take them verbatim until we’ve had a chance to examine the jewelry and put our own take on it. Sometimes the appraisal is helpful because it gives stone weight and that sort of thing. So when we check, we can see that we’re close to what that appraisal says. If it’s something another store has sold, they should have the exact melee weight, for example.”

LISA BIDERMAN, STORE MANAGER
HILLER JEWELRY
METAIRIE, LOUISIANA
   “We do offer appraisals. Most people asking for a general jewelry appraisal understand what it is. Some people are looking for an appraisal so that they can sell their ring. Then we have to go into an elaboration on what an actual insurance appraisal is for and that it’s not for fair market. That’s the only time we feel we have to go into an explanation. We would use another cert to see if we agree with the appraisal or not, but we certainly do our own independent appraisal. We don’t just use that as the basis for ours.”

MICHAEL FINN, MANAGER
E.B. HORN COMPANY
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
   “Appraisals are an important thing for us to do — not dollarwise, it’s not a big money-maker, but it’s a credibility thing. We have the skill to do it.
   “We do have to educate people about the appraisal process. We have to clarify whether the appraisal is for insurance purposes or estate purposes or is this something they want to sell. We would consider an outside appraisal, particularly if it were from the source where they purchased the diamonds. If the piece to be appraised has a lot of small diamonds and the appraisal lists the total weight, we’ll look it over to see if it makes sense.”

MATT PARRISH, DIRECTOR OF SALES
MERKLEY KENDRICK JEWELERS
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
   “We’re the second-oldest jeweler in the country and we’re known for our appraisal services. We have an AGS-certified appraiser on site and we do quite a bit. We do have to educate clients about the process. A lot of people think they can come in and immediately get an appraisal in ten minutes.
   “We wouldn’t take another jeweler’s opinion on the value of an item. We would still do our own. We might take some of a previous appraisal to use as reference but we would do our own professional opinion.”

JON BUMANN, GENERAL MANAGER
CHALMERS JEWELERS
MIDDLETON, WISCONSIN
   “We do appraisals. There’s a lot of education needed for the consumer in terms of what type of appraisal they need — what it’s worth, replacement value or, in the case of divorce, what would someone buy it for. An outside appraisal may help in terms of stone weights, if those stone weights are accurate and not estimated. We’re going to reevaluate the piece ourselves. If there are diamonds, we’re going to evaluate them for color and clarity and if there are gemstones, we’re going to test and evaluate them. We will look to see if we come to the same consensus as the previous appraiser, if they were an actual certified appraiser.”

LISA LYONS, GRADUATE GEMOLOGIST
CLARKSON JEWELERS
ELLISVILLE, MISSOURI
   “We appraise anything that’s purchased here at no charge and we do offer the service of appraisals for outside pieces. People don’t really understand that an appraisal takes more than five minutes to do or why there would be a charge for it. I try to explain that I can’t just glance at their jewelry and tell them what it’s worth because then I wouldn’t be doing my job.
   “If a previous appraisal has independent lab reports, of course, we ask for them. Then we can match them to the diamonds and colored stones and note them on the appraisal. But we do not take outside appraisals into account at all.”

JIM JESSOP, OWNER
JESSOP JEWELERS
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
   “Yes, we do appraisals and advertise that we do them. I think that it establishes us as a more credible store. It certainly displays our expertise in a wonderful way. And it’s a way of servicing what our clients need. So I’m very strong on the need to do appraising. There are three staff members here who are capable of doing appraising and available to talk to clients. It’s very important to me that customers are completely comfortable and understand what we’re going to be doing for them.
   “If someone brings in a prior appraisal, we will develop our own material and then look at the prior appraisal and see if everything is in agreement. It saves us having to check and double check. So that’s a good idea. A prior appraisal can also help me understand what the client’s expectation is so that I can answer any questions.”

MARK LEIGH, OWNER/PRESIDENT
LEIGH JEWELERS
VERO BEACH, FLORIDA
   “We do a lot of appraisals in our store. It’s a service that we offer; we’re always busy doing appraisals. We post very clearly on the receipt our charge per hour and if customers question that, we explain to them exactly what the process entails and why the cost is what it is. We try to work as expertly and quickly as we can on their behalf but certain things have to be done and done correctly. Unless there is a laboratory certificate for a diamond or other type of gem, we prefer to do our own appraisal rather that use someone else’s as a crutch.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - May 2014. To subscribe click here.

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