Whatever the economy is like, people still fall in love, get engaged and buy rings to mark their commitment. And they'll want these treasures insured.
Here are a few reminders of issues likely to come up for insuring jewelry at this wedding time of year.
Fancy Colors. Diamonds are still by far the most popular stone for engagement rings. Intense marketing that “a diamond is forever” means diamond still symbolizes enduring love. But the color range is expanding. One designer came out with a “Chocolate Vows” bridal collection, featuring brown diamonds. Eddie Murphy proposed with a yellow diamond ring. Pink, blue, virtually any color diamond now appears in wedding jewelry.
Reminder: Natural colored diamonds are extremely rare and very expensive. Most, if not all, the colored diamonds you see are lab-grown (synthetic) or color-enhanced. Be sure the appraisal specifically states that a colored diamond is natural, synthetic or color-treated. (More about browns.)
Shape. Traditionally, most engagement rings had round brilliant-cut diamonds. But now a second shape is gaining in popularity: princess cut.
Reminder: A princess cut diamond is square, with sharp corners that are vulnerable to damage and need protecting. The corners are so vulnerable, in fact, that we consider them a potential inherent vice. Many times corners are chipped even during the setting of the stone. See here for a more detailed discussion.
Color & Clarity Grade. In this economy, keeping to a budget is a high priority. Rather than give up gem size, couples may go for a diamond of lower color and clarity grade. There may be no visual difference to a lay person casually admiring the stone, but color and clarity significantly affect a diamond's value.
Reminder: Be sure the appraisal is detailed and that it is prepared by a jeweler/appraiser who is a gemologist and can reliably determine color and clarity grades.
CZ. Another money-saver is to choose cubic zirconia instead of diamond. Marketed as “affordable elegance,” CZ engagement rings are readily available on the Internet for well under $100. At the same time, high-quality rings, with CZ set in platinum for example, can be priced well into the thousands of dollars.
Reminder: CZ isn't diamond, though good quality CZ can't be distinguished from diamond except by an experienced gemologist. Be sure the appraiser is qualified to make this important distinction. (Read more about CZ.)
Colored Gems. Gems other than diamond are adding zest to wedding jewelry. Ruby and sapphire are especially popular.
Reminder: An appraisal for colored gems should be written by a jeweler/appraiser who regularly deals in such stones.
Source. More than one suitor has purchased an engagement ring on eBay or Craigs List. It could be a real bargain, but . . . .
Reminder: Individuals selling (or reselling) their jewelry are not professional jewelers nor established retailers who stand behind their products. Be sure the appraisal submitted to you has been prepared by a qualified gemologist independent of the seller. Also, be sure the appraisal was prepared specifically for this client, and is not simply a paper passed on to your client as part of an online sale.
“Man-gagement” Rings. For men, there are not only wedding bands but now engagement rings as well. Men's wedding jewelry is often in rugged materials like tungsten, titanium, steel and cobalt. The rings may or may not include gemstones.
Reminder: Experts suggest that this may be just a fad, and values can drop precipitously when a fad passes. To guard against overpaying a future claim, be sure you have an appraisal that describes the item in detail, so its value can be established at time of loss.
FOR AGENTS & UNDERWRITERS
When pricing a replacement, give the replacing jeweler all descriptive information from the appraisal and other documents. Do not give the valuation. The replacement price should be based on the quality of the jewelry (as described on the appraisal and lab report), not on your limit of liability or on the original purchase price.
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