Why an “independent” appraiser?

An independent appraiser is one who is hired directly by and works directly for the consumer or client and whose only allegiance is therefore to the consumer/client. Independent appraisers have no specific reason to inflate, devalue, or otherwise conveniently apply values to any of the items they appraise. In addition, independent appraisers are characteristically more thorough, competent and provide the customer with substantially more specificity and detail on their jewelry purchases. An independent appraiser only appraises and values jewelry, gemstones, diamonds and watches; he or she neither purchases, sells nor brokers these items. Neither are they employed by a jeweler, jewelry company, insurance company or any other industry related agency. Nor do they accept referral commissions from jewelers, insurance companies or any other agencies.

This is important to the consumer because only an independent appraiser can give you an unbiased and disinterested opinion of value on your item. Insurers and judiciary authorities are well aware of abuses and insurance frauds based on inflated “appraisals” issued by jewelers, brokers or others anxious to show that their clients have received a super deal or have purchased an item well below its “actual” value in the appropriate level of the market. A document issued by the seller or maker of an item is not an appraisal — it is a sales report and if it does not match what was actually paid, it may be deemed fraudulent.

In the context of estate and probate related appraisals, the issue of independence becomes even more critical. Courts may and frequently do reject so-called “appraisals” issued by the seller or maker of an item and order a report issued by an independent valuer.

Kenneth Burchell is a member in good standing of the sole international association of independent jewelry valuers and appraisers whose members abide by a strictly enforced Code of Ethics regarding integrity, conduct, professionalism and, of course, independence — the Association of Independent Jewelry Valuers.

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