The Case of the
gemstones can be damaged over time.
But can they ever improve?
This is a true story with a moral.
An adjuster receives a claim on a lost gold ring set with an emerald. The adjuster has before him two appraisals.
- The original appraisal on file, dated four years before the loss, describes the stone as a genuine Columbian emerald weighing 2.18 carats, "translucent deep green, and relatively free of inclusions."
- The appraisal accompanying the loss report describes the stone as "medium dark intense green."
The two descriptions may sound similar but are actually very different. Gemological language for describing color is quite precise.
|Precise descriptions are important because qualties greatly affect price. These emeralds are similar in tone/saturation/hue and carat weight, but vary significantly in clarity.|
Most important in these two appraisals is the use of the word "translucent." Good quality emeralds are transparent. This means light very easily comes through the stone, as through a tinted windshield. A translucent gem is like a foggy window. "Translucent" is to describe an emerald with serious inclusions that are blocking the passage of the light. Commercial grade emeralds are commonly translucent. The first appraisal described the stone as both "translucent" and "relatively free of inclusions," which is confusing, even contradictory.
The second appraisal does not contain the word "translucent." A professional gemologist would understand this to mean that the emerald was transparent.
Someone looking at both appraisals might conclude that the inclusions originally marring the stone had simply disappeared. Alas, this never happens in nature. Unlike wine, gemstones do not improve with age.
The more likely explanation is that the appraiser was unable, through lack of training, to describe the gem color accurately. Gemological terms for color do not depend on the poetic skills or hype of the appraiser, but have specific, agreed-upon meanings. For example, tone might be described as "medium light," saturation might be "very slightly grayish." One of the jewelers who bid on the replacement suggested that the untrained appraiser for this emerald might have confused translucency with color saturation.
It's not possible for the insurer, untrained in gemology, to recognize these fine distinctions in terminology. Yet precise descriptions are important since the price of an emerald can range from $40 to $10,000 for a one-carat stone, depending on its quality.
FOR AGENTS & UNDERWRITING
Having an ACORD 78/79 jewelry appraisal on file will guard against imprecise or absent descriptions that can be costly to the insurer. ACORD 78/79 must be prepared by a Graduate Gemologist and Certified Insurance Appraiser (CIA™) in jewelry. The form prompts the appraiser to describe the gem as to tone, saturation and hue, the most important criteria in pricing colored gemstones.
For a total loss, the claims department must use whatever documents are on file. If you are working with documents other than an ACORD 78/79 appraisal, transfer all descriptive information to an ACORD 18 form to see whether you have the necessary details.
If the appraisal description is inadequate, find out the seller and manufacturer of the jewelry. Look on the sales receipt or ask the policyholder. Your company expert can draw conclusions about the quality of merchandise sold by that retailer and may be able to interview the seller for more details.
For a damage claim, have the jewelry examined by an independent inspector. Ask for a complete description of the entire piece, not just of the damage. This report will allow you to verify the characteristics stated in your appraisal on file, and thus to verify the quality of the stone.
Emeralds by nature have inclusions. It's possible that what a non-professional takes to be damage is actually the original state of the gem. An independent inspector will also be able to say whether apparent damage is really just normal wear and tear, for which the insurer is not liable.
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