An infuriating week in the life of a jewellery valuer

In a professional sense, last week was challenging, and I have had my head in my hands, more times than I care to count. The reasons behind this infuriating level of frustration are the unqualified people are providing substandard insurance valuations to the public.

To be blunt, these pieces of paper are not valuations; they are just inane scribble on a piece of headed paper that has no basis in fact or evidence. And they leave the client exposed to undue risk and increased costs, for no reason. Last week alone, I have seen a fracture-filled diamond, with a valuation that made no mention of this non-stable treatment. A rather crucial aspect that has a significant impact on the replacement value, a value I would like to point out that was significantly higher than it should have been for a treated diamond.

I have also seen a late 1990’s Rolex where the description on the valuation was ‘One Rolex watch’ and nothing else. No mention of whether it was a gent’s or a ladies watch. There was no model type, nor a mention of steel, steel and gold, or all precious metal. There was absolutely nothing to identify the watch, nothing to prove it was genuine and nothing to determine whether I was looking at the watch shown on the piece of paper. And I can only conclude that the value recorded was obtained by rolling some dice up against a wall, as it had zero connection to the watch.

It would have been interesting to see if that one would have passed a settlement assessment, but I seriously doubt it.

I have seen an 18 carat gold and diamond half eternity ring, that had been valued only a few weeks ago by an unqualified valuer. The client brought it to me because they had concerns over the value ascribed to the ring. And it was a good job they did too, as the ‘value’ on this piece of paper was £700.00 short of the actual replacement value! Let that sink in for a second, seven hundred pounds less than it would cost to buy that ring today. Imagine having that claim settled, then when you’re looking for a replacement realising how short you are. Do you think the insurance company would pay out the difference once you realised? No, I don’t think so either.

But my personal favourite and the one that made me choke on my coffee was a vintage Rolex GMT from the late 1960s. An incredibly clean watch with original parts, original box and warranty papers as well as numerous service receipts. A highly sought after watch, by any standard and one that is worth severa

l tens of thousands. And what monstrosity accompanied this highly desirable watch? A new for old valuation! New for old on a collector’s piece that is over fifty years old. As one of my esteemed colleagues commented when I was regaling him with this story ‘even at double the current retail price, it’s still about half what this watch is worth!’ Imagine having an immaculate vintage E-Type Jaguar and your insurance company wanting to replace it was a brand new F-Type! That is basically what this was; it is utterly ludicrous.

As I mentioned in one of my recent articles, there seems to be a belief that anyone working in the jewellery industry can value. That is certainly not the case, and thankfully this belief doesn’t transfer out of the trade. After all, you don’t see mortgage lenders accepting building inspection reports and valuations from window cleaners, do you?

My angst is not directed towards the unsuspecting client who accepts these so-called valuations. They accept them in good faith, and how are they meant to know that piece of paper they’ve just been given is only suitable for helping start a fire? My frustration is aimed solely at the unqualified people who continue to produce this rubbish.

All I can say is, like any professional service, valuations need to be carried out by someone suitably experienced, qualified and registered to undertake the work. By employing someone who has no idea what they’re doing, you are not only wasting your money in the here and now. But you are leaving yourself open to all kinds of issues and costs further down the road.

Always seek the services of a qualified and registered valuer, from the Jewellery Valuers Association.

Gareth Brown FGA, DGA, GIA-Pearls, CPAA, AJP, FJVA

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