What is it Really Worth?

When it comes to jewellery valuations, it can seem like navigating a minefield. Clients are often perplexed when they come to Leonard Joel for estimates on their jewellery and our quotes fall below their expectations. There is a common myth that a jewellery valuation is used to indicate the ‘worth’ of an item, however there are many types of valuations, and they all serve different purposes.

The most common is an insurance valuation, the purpose of which is to determine a cost for replacing like for like in the event of loss or damage. A qualified valuer uses specialised gemmological equipment to determine gem weights, gold carat levels, and metal weights, and they also consider manufacture costs and the condition of the item to determine a value. 

Generally speaking, an insurance valuation is typically 10-15% above the purchase price. Factored in is a buffer for future fluctuations in the market, for example metal prices, exchange rates, and interestingly, fashion trends. It is important to note that insurance valuations are not used in determining retail pricing.

Bricks and mortar retailers have different replacement values given the variance in their costs and overheads. Some prefer to issue Certificates of Authenticity, this is usually stated as the price for which the item
was purchased. These documents are of particular importance when purchasing branded jewels such as by Cartier or Tiffany & Co. If you decide down the track to sell, it gives peace of mind to potential buyers that the item is genuine.

Next, we come to auction value. Here at Leonard Joel, our jewellery specialists hold industry recognised qualifications in gemmology, diamond grading, and valuing. Our locations are equipped with gemmological tools used to identify and assess your jewellery. The specialists keep abreast of local and international auction results and trends to determine a range in which they think the hammer price for a lot at sale is likely to be. For the secondary market, values are typically between one third and a fifth of the insurance or retail replacement value of a jewellery item. Our aim is to be transparent and realistic in our estimates, and the hope is to generate interest and competition on auction night to achieve great results!

Circling back to ‘what is it worth,’ at the end of the day, a piece is worth what someone is prepared to pay. As eloquently put in the 1997 classic The Castle, Dale asks, “How much is a jousting stick worth, Dad?” To which Daryl responds, “Couldn’t be more than $250. Depending on
the condition.”

By Rebecca Sheahan, Head of Fine Jewels & Timepieces

Top Image: Rebecca Sheahan

May 2024