Whether you own a collection of many jewelry pieces or have a few precious ones with you, perhaps you’ve considered whether getting an appraisal is worth it. You can use an appraisal in many ways, but what stops most from getting one is the fear of getting scammed. Maybe you, like others, no longer want to get a jewelry appraisal here in the Philippines because of unfortunate incidents you’ve heard from a friend or a random person who decided to recount their experience on social media.
It is terrifying to get scammed, especially if planning on getting an appraisal for something very valuable to you. However, there are some things you can do to avoid these scams altogether. By understanding some of these tips and what warning signs to look out for, you won’t have to be worried about wasting your time and resources.
What are jewelry appraisal scams?
When you get an appraisal, the appraiser will assign a value to your jewelry piece based on different factors and following specific standards. The appraiser will then provide a document containing this and other necessary information.
Unfortunately, some who claim to be “appraisers” are actually scammers. Sometimes, the value they give is entirely incorrect, or they charge a customer through unethical means. For example, they might say that a quality diamond ring is worth much less than it is so that you can sell it to them or their associate for a much lower price. These are what we call “jewelry appraisal scams.”
Importance of Knowing How to Spot Appraisal Scams
Like any other service you want to avail of, you want to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth, right? Getting scammed can be really painful, especially so in the jewelry industry.
When scammed, you could lose or miss the opportunity to sell more for your expensive diamond jewelry or get the correct insurance claim for a beautiful gold ring. Therefore, you must know how to spot these potential scams so that you won’t lose money and can protect yourself.
Common Jewelry Appraisal Scams in the Philippines
Giving incorrect appraisals
While some people might think that appraising jewelry is a simple and easy process, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Appraising is a process that involves a lot of research, testing, and the use of necessary tools and equipment. In addition, the appraiser must also have the necessary educational background.
This, however, may not be common knowledge to everyone. Some who claim to be “professional appraisers” take advantage of this and pretend to give an accurate appraisal despite not actually going through the correct process.
For example, you might see someone who would look at a ring from a distance and claim that it’s not real gold just by taking one look at it or dropping some unknown liquid to test its legitimacy. But how would they know? Even if an appraiser has years of experience and is familiar with the physical features of gold, they still need to research and perform tests as part of the appraisal standards professionals must follow.
In line with that, some unethical jewelers or gold/diamond buyers team up or have these false appraisers with them when looking for jewelry pieces to purchase. Through these scammers, the buyers may appear to pay you enough (or more than enough) for your piece based on a false appraisal.
For example, the appraiser who does not follow the right process could claim that your valuable gold jewelry is worth ₱500,000, and it would seem like a fair deal, especially if you can get the cash right there and then. However, your piece could be worth so much more than that. Based on the weight of the gold content, a trustworthy jeweler might say they’d pay $10,000 per carat.
Presenting an appraisal with a much higher price than the selling price
In a similar way, if you’re the one buying a piece of jewelry and you’re given a supposed “appraisal” that indicates a much higher value than the selling price, deal with skepticism. This could be a scam to make it seem that you’re paying a reasonable price when you might be paying for something that’s worth much less. Note, however, that this doesn’t apply when you’re buying branded jewelry like Cartier, Tiffany’s, or Van Cleef (to name a few). Just make sure these branded jewelries are indeed the real thing and not an imitation item!
Charging based on the jewelry appraisal
Lastly, some scammers that claim to be professional appraisers may not indicate up-front how much their appraisal service would cost. Instead, once they conduct a supposed appraisal, they might say they’ll charge you based on a certain percentage of the appraised value. This is simply not done! The appraisal fee should be based on the EFFORT exerted and the EXPERTISE of the appraiser.
For example, they could say that since the value of your ring is PHP100,000, they’ll be taking 10% and will ask you to pay them PHP10,000 but in reality, the real value of your jewelry is just PHP50,000. When charging based on the percentage of the value of the item appraised, the tendency would be to appraise higher so that the basis of the percentage will be higher. This is the reason why you should not engage with an appraiser who will charge you in this fashion.
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How to Avoid Jewelry Appraisal Scams in the Philippines
Be wary of those offering free appraisals
Some buyers, particularly those who claim to be a part of a big jewelry-buying company or group, have an appraiser with them. They’ll say that this appraiser will give an accurate value to which you should sell your piece.
However, in some cases, this appraiser is not a third-party appraiser. Therefore, even if the group or individual may seem like a reputable buyer, the appraiser could be someone who works for them.
In the Philippines, a similar case happened at a big gold-buying event where many people were scammed despite thinking they’d already received a good amount of money. This kind of scam may occur in other areas and on smaller scales as well.
It’s best to think twice about getting your piece appraised by them and look for someone else who’s not associated with the buyer. Sure, you might be paying when getting your own appraisal, but this would be a more secure choice, mainly if you’re contacting an already-established appraiser.
Ask about or research an appraiser’s credentials
A legitimate appraiser MUST ask the PURPOSE OF THE APPRAISAL. What is the intention of the client? Is it to sell the item to an end user? Is it because the client is in the process of dividing his/her jewelry amongst his/her heirs? Is the client looking to pawn? Is the client looking to sell his/her jewelry to resellers? Knowing the purpose or the true intent of the client affects the valuation method the appraiser must undertake to come up with an accurate appraisal. There is no one-size, fit all valuation method.
Alternatively, you could look for the appraiser’s credentials first. An appraiser should be a gemology graduate. It also helps that they’re recognized by international appraisal organizations or associations like the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). You can even find a recognized appraiser per country on their website.
This doesn’t just go for those giving “free appraisals.” Even if you decide to get your appraisal from someone not tied with the buyer, it’s best to still look into some information about the appraiser. This ensures that you’re getting an appraisal based on standards and is conducted by a true industry professional.
Look for reviews about the appraiser
Part of your research can include looking into what former customers have said about the appraiser. If they’re a trusted appraiser, they’d most likely have an official website or social media page where people could leave comments or reviews. You can read these reviews and see what people say about their services.
Be suspicious of those claiming to have an appraisal “from a laboratory”
It might seem like the document is legitimate if you see that the appraisal came from some kind of lab, but grading labs issue lab reports and do not conduct appraisals. Seeing this from a supposed appraisal document is a huge warning sign that you’re being scammed. Reports do give details and confirm the specific characteristics of a gem, but they do not assign a value.
Talk about the appraisal fee before the process
Don’t settle for knowing how much you’d have to pay once the appraisal is done. This helps you avoid scammers who might charge you based on a certain percentage of the appraised value. A trustworthy appraiser would tell you up-front how much appraising your piece would be based on their initial observation.
Get an appraisal from Willyn Villarica Jewelry
Despite these potential scams, you shouldn’t back down from getting your pieces appraised, as this can serve many purposes. As long as you follow these tips and be more careful, you don’t have to worry.
If you’re looking for a reputable jewelry appraiser, you can surely trust Willyn Villarica Jewelry. Meeting the educational and professional requirements mentioned above and being the only NAJA-recognized appraiser from the Philippines, you’ll undoubtedly get quality appraisal services from Willyn Villarica.
Willyn Villarica is your trusted partner for jewelry appraisal services, catering to clients around the globe. Our expertise and commitment to excellence ensure accurate and reliable assessments of your precious gemstones. It’s important to note that while we offer our services worldwide, clients are responsible for covering all travel expenses. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have your diamonds expertly graded by Willyn Villarica.
For inquiries or appointments, reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or engage with us on our official Facebook (Willyn Villarica Jewelry) and Instagram (@willynvillarica_jewelry) accounts. Furthermore, we are readily available for direct communication at +63279497547.