January 2011

JEWELRY INSURANCE ISSUES (formerly IM News), provides monthly insight and information for jewelry insurance agents, underwriters and claims adjusters.

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Jewelry Insurance Issues

Table of Contents

Click on article titles in red


What's a Certified Appraiser? - January

Best Appraiser Credentials - February

Are the diamonds you’re insuring real? - March

Handwritten Appraisals - April


Moral Hazard, Documents and the Bottom Line - January

Ruby and Jade - February

How to mail a diamond - March

Jewelry Insurance Appraisal Standards: JISO - April

Describing a gem's color - May

Why not just put jewelry on the Homeowner policy? - June

GIA Diamond Reports - July

Not just a pretty face - August

Moral Hazards on the rise - September

Hurricanes, fires, floods—and jewelry insurance - October

Inherent vice / wear-and-tear losses are rising - November

FRAUD UPDATE – lack of disclosure, false inscriptions & doctored docs - December


Inflated appraisals—alive & well! Shady lab reports—alive & well! MORAL HAZARD—ALIVE & WELL! - January

Clarity Enhancements v. Inherent Vice - February

How green is my emerald? - March

Cruise Jewelry - What's the problem? - April

Crown of Light®- how special is it? - May

Diamonds at Auction — Big gems, big prices, and the trickle-down effect - June

Are you sure her wedding jewelry is covered? - July

What Affects Jewelry Valuation? - August

What to look for – on the jewelry appraisal, on the cert, and on other documents - September

Bigger & Bigger Diamonds - October

Scam season is always NOW - November

Ocean Diamonds - December


Pair & Set Jewelry Claims and the Accidental Tourist - January

Is that brand-name diamond a cut above the others? - February

Vacation Jewelry – Insurer beware! - March

Apple's Smartwatch – The risk of a wrist computer - April

Why you should read that appraisal - May

Smoking Gun! - June

Color-Grading Diamond: the Master Stones - July

Padparadscha—a special term for a special stone - August

Jewelry Appraisal Fees - September

Insuring a Rolex - steps to take, things to consider - October

Diamond camouflage and how to see through it - November

GIA Hacked! - December


Who Grades? - January

Sales, discounts, price reductions, bargains, specials, mark-downs . . . . and valuation - February

Credential Conundrum - March

Frankenwatches - April

Fakes, fakes, and more fakes - May

Marketing Confusion — What is this gem anyway? - June

12 Reasons Not to Insure a Rolex! - July

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 5-7 - August

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 8-10 - September

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 11-12 - October

The Doublet Masquerade - November

Is the gem suitable for the jewelry? Is this a good insurance risk? - December


Wedding Rings on HO? NO! - January

Silver: the new gold - February

Point Protection - March

Tiffany v. Costco - April

What counts in valuing a diamond? - May

Appraising Jewelry - What's a credential worth? - June

A Cutting Question concerning vintage diamonds - July

Synthesized Diamonds - Scam update - August

Pretty in Pink - Kunzite on parade... - September

Preventing jewelry losses - October

Scratch a diamond and you'll find . . .??? - November

Synthetics in the Mix - December


Advanced Gem Lab - A deeper look at colored gems - January

Whose Diamond? - February

Appraisal Inflation - It Keeps On Keeping On - March

Big Emerald - April

Changing colors and making gems: Are we seeing "beautiful lies"? - May

Diamonds - Out of Africa. . . or out of a lab? - June

Appraiser's Dream Contest - July

GIA & the Magic of Certificates - August

Pricey when it's hot: What happens when it's not? - September

Fooling With Gold - October

Tanzanite – December's stone - November

Branding Diamonds - What do those names mean? - December


Unappraisable Jewelry - January

Replicas - Are they the real thing? - February

Composite Rubies- From bad to worse - March

Jewelry Hallmark - A Well-Kept Secret - April

Non-Disclosure: Following a Trail of Deception - May

Preserving the Diamond Dream - June

Spinel in the Spotlight - July

Jewelry 24/7 - Electronic Shopping - August

Diamond Bubble? - September

Disclosure: HPHT - October

"Hearts & Arrows" Diamonds - November

How a Gem Lab Looks at Diamonds - December


Emeralds - And What They Include - January

Pink Diamonds: From Astronomical to Affordable - February

Palladium-the Other Precious White Metal - March

Bridal Jewelry - April

The Corundum Spectrum - May

How Photos Cut Fraud - and help the insured - June

The Price of Fad - July

Old Cut, New Cut-It's All about Diamonds - August

EightStar Diamonds-Beyond Ideal - September

The Hazard of Fakes - October

Jewelry with a Story - November

Counterfeit Watches - December


Blue Diamond-cool, rare and expensive-sometimes - January

Turning Jewelry into Cash—
Strategy in a Bad Economy
- February

Enhancing the Stone - March

Being Certain about the Cert - April

Every Picture Tells a Story - May

Color-Grading Diamonds - June

The Newest Diamond Substitute - July

What Happens to Stolen Jewelry - August

Jewelry As an Investment - September

Black Diamond: Paradox of a Gem - October

Protect Your Homeowners Market—Keep Jewelry OFF HO Policies! - November

What’s So Great about JISO Appraisal Forms & Standards? - December


Garnet - and Its Many Incarnations - January

Organic Gems - February

Do Your Jewelry Insurance Settlements Make You Look Bad? - March

Don't Be Duped by Fake JISO Appraisal - April

Diamonds in the Rough - May

The Cultured Club - June

Sapphire-Gem Superstar - July

It's a Certified Diamond! 
- But who's saying so?
- August

FTC Decides: Culture Is In! - September

Paraiba Tourmaline – What's in a Name? - October

How Fancy is Brown? - November

CZ – The Great Pretender - December


Moissanite's New Spin - January

Online Jewelry - Buying and Insuring - February

Blood Diamonds - March

Damaged Jewelry, Don't Assume!- April

Chocolate Pearls - May

Appraisal Puff-Up vs Useful Appraisal - June

It's Art, but is it Jewelry?
- July

Diamonds Wear Coats of Many Colors - August

DANGER! eBay Jewelry "Bargains" - September

TV Shopping for Jewelry - October

Enhanced Emerald: clever coverup - November

How do you like your rubies -
leaded or unleaded?
- December


The New Platinum: A Story of Alloys - January

Ruby Ruse - February

How Big are Diamonds Anyway? - March

GIA Diamond Scandal
Has Silver Lining for Insurers
- April

Watch Out for Big-Box Retailers Insurance Appraisals - May

Mixing It Up: Natural and Synthetic Diamonds Together - June

Tanzanite - Warning: Fragile - July

Red Diamonds - August

Inflated Valuations & Questionable Certificates - September

Emeralds - October

Where Do Real Diamonds Come From? - November

Counterfeit Watches - The Mushroom War - December


The Lure of Colored Diamonds - January

Synthetic Colored Diamonds - February

Watches: What to Watch for - March

When is a Pear not a Pair? - April

The Truth About Topaz - May

White Gold: How White is White? - June

One of a Kind - or Not - July

Jewelry in Disguise - August

Valued Contract for Jewelry? Proceed with Caution! - September

Antiques, Replicas and All Their Cousins

Grading the Color of Colored Diamonds

New GIA Cut Grade for Diamonds - December


Synthetic Diamonds - and Insuring Tips - January

Bogus Appraisals and Fraud - February

A Picture is Worth Thousands of Dollars - March

Don't be Duped by Fracture Filling - April

Gem Scams Point to Need for Change - May

What is a Good Appraisal - June

4Cs of Color Gemstones - July

Gem Laser Drilling: The Next Generation - August

Why Update an Appraisal? - September

When to Recommend an Appraisal Update or a Second Appraisal - October

Secrets of Sapphire - November

Will the Real Ruby Please Stand Up - December


Mysterious Orient:
A Tale of Loss
- January

Bogus Diamond Certificates and Appraisals - February

Can Valuations be Trusted? - March

Spotting a Bogus Appraisal or Certificate - April

Counterfeit Diamond Certificates - May

Case of the Mysterious "Rare" Sapphires - June

Politically Correct Diamonds - July

Name Brand Diamonds - September

Princess Cut: Black Sheep of Diamonds - October

Reincarnate as a Diamond - November

Synthetic Diamonds - December


Irradiated Mail/Irradiated Gems - January

Fake Diamonds (Moissonite) - February

GIA Diamond Report - March

AGS and Other Diamond Certificates - April

Colored Stone Certificates - May

Damaged Jewelry: Don't Pay for Nature's Mistakes - June

The Case of the "Self-Healing" Emerald - July

Mysterious Disappearance: Case of the Missing Opals - August

The Discount Mirage - September

What Can You Learn from Salvage? - October

Gaining from Partial Loss - November

Year in Review - December


Colored Diamonds - January

Good as Gold - February

Disclose Gem Treatments - March

FTC Jewelry Guidelines - April

Myths Part I: Each Piece is Unique - May

Myths Part II: Myths, Lies, & Half-Truths - June

New Trend: Old Cut Stones - October

The Appraisal Process - November

Year in Review - December


Deceptive Pricing - January

Gems - Natural or Manmade - February

Jeweler/Appraisal Credentials - March

Fracture Filling - April

Salvage Jewelery - May

Gem Treatments - June

Don't Ask/Don't Tell - A Buying Nightmare - July

Laser Drilling of Diamonds - August

Jeweler Ethics or the Lack Thereof - September

Gem Scam - October

The Truth about Clarity Grading - November

Year in Review - December


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Unappraisable Jewelry

Gemologist appraisers can detect many secrets about jewelry that are inaccessible to the rest of us. With their training, experience and gemological lab equipment, they determine the quality of gems and workmanship, and ultimately arrive at a valuation that insurers — and consumers — depend upon.

But sometimes an appraiser best serves his customer by just handing the jewelry back without appraising it. Here are some examples.

1. A customer brought in for appraisal her grandmother’s treasured ruby ring. She’d been fascinated by the large red stone all her life and imagined the ring would be worth enough to pay off her house. But a quick glance through the microscope revealed the curved striae, or growth lines, that are clear evidence of a lab-grown stone. This synthesized ruby is worth considerably less than a natural gem.

Synthetic stones like this one have been produced since the late 1800s, so they are very easy for gemologists to spot. Gems made using today’s technology could be much more difficult to detect, as they more closely resemble natural gems. For such stones, the appraiser would have to remove the stone from its mounting and might have to send it to a lab to be thoroughly tested.

In this ring, which dated from the 1950s, the stone was obviously synthetic. The value of the ring came to less than the price of an appraisal.

2. The centerpiece of the ring is coral. The surrounding stones include diamonds and two types of red stones. The appraiser could see that some of them had been replaced at one time. To accurately determine the ring’s value, each small stone would have to be removed, tested and then reset—all of which would add considerably to the cost of the appraisal. Some of the prongs might break when the stones were taken out, and repairing them would mean additional charges.

Without performing a detailed examination of the stones, the appraiser estimated that the ring would be worth no more than $1,200. To properly schedule the ring, all stones should be removed and tested, incurring high costs relative to the ring’s value.

The ring might simply be covered on a homeowners policy, but such coverage usually carries a significant deductible. With a deductible of $300-$500, the cost of appraising all the ring’s stones would still hardly be worthwhile.


3. This simple gold band is stamped as 18 karat gold. But it is worn thin and the edges are jagged. It may have sentimental value but it has no value as jewelry. It is worth only the price of the scrap metal.

People often have a distorted sense of the value of gold, holding on to old jewelry because of its gold content. Even at today’s gold price of about $1,400 per ounce (a very high price, historically), the scrap value of this 5-gram gold ring would be $100.

4. Here is an old ring that’s been repaired a few times. At first glance there appear to be a cluster of garnets surrounding a central diamond. It turns out this ring has several attributes that hinder a thorough examination.

The red stones are believed to be garnets; a final determination would depend on their Refractive Index (RI) — one of the primary indicators gemologists use to determine what a stone is. To get an RI reading with a Refractometer, one of the stones must have an accessible flat surface that is unscratched, which this ring does not have. Since the back of the ring is closed, the appraiser also cannot measure the depth of the stones nor examine them for inclusions. If the appraiser were to remove the stones for examination, chances are he would damage the mounting and incur further costs for the customer.

In any case, garnets like these are very inexpensive. The appraiser could also tell that the center stone was not a diamond but probably colorless sapphire, also inexpensive. The jewelry’s estimated value is $250. Appraisal fees, plus the labor involved, would come to more than the ring is worth.


5. Here is another family heirloom, a karat gold stick pin. The stone had been removed some time ago and the prongs cut off.

If it had sentimental value and the owner wanted to wear the pin, a stone could be added. New prongs and the setting fee would be about $150; plus an appraisal fee of $50-$125 depending on the stone; plus, of course, the cost of the gem. The pin has no karat stamp, so the gold content would have to be tested, entailing an additional fee.

As it is, this piece has no value as jewelry, since stick pins are out of fashion. The value of the scrap is about $30.

6. This looks like a ruby ring, having a large center ruby flanked by two smaller ones. It turns out the center stone is glass, since bubbles in it are easily visible to the gemologist. The smaller stones may or may not be rubies. In either case, the labor charges for removing them for examination and appraisal would exceed the value of the ring (estimated at $150).

Why would a ring with real rubies have glass as the centerpiece? As our gemologist appraiser points out, jewelers are not necessarily gemologists. The jeweler may not even have known the center stone was glass. Or he may have used glass to deceive the customer. Or the original center ruby may have been lost and the owner couldn’t afford to replace it with genuine ruby.

All these examples are good arguments for the importance of having an appraisal from a graduate gemologist, preferably one who is also a Certified Insurance Appraiser™.


Things are not necessarily as they appear. What a jewelry owner values as ruby may turn out to be glass, a “diamond” may be clear sapphire. Rely only on a detailed appraisal, such as JISO 78/79.

All scheduled jewelry should come with an appraisal from a GG, preferably one who is also a CIA™.

Unscheduled jewelry usually carries a significant deductible, which can be greater than the jewelry’s value. Claims for jewelry on a HO policy could also endanger the client’s HO claim-free status.

Most of our examples above were family heirlooms, pieces the customer assumed were valuable because they were old and treasured within the family. Such pieces have great sentimental worth, but insurers should always be aware that jewelry does not have value just because it is old.

Antique and period jewelry should be appraised by a gemologist who is familiar with this market. Even quality jewelry can have a low value if it is no longer in style.


Not all jewelers are trained gemologists.

For jewelry like the pieces discussed above, a less knowledgeable or less conscientious appraiser might have provided an appraisal based on a cursory look at the jewelry, without properly inspecting it.

Always scrutinize the appraisal and, if necessary, investigate the appraiser’s qualifications. Remember that appraising period jewelry requires an expertise beyond that of most jewelers dealing in contemporary pieces.

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