For what it’s worth…

September 16th 2020

Sonia Fazlali-Zadeh, jewellery specialist and valuer at Gurr Johns

I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate. As an independent valuer of jewellery and watches, it is my privilege to come across various beautiful and one-off pieces, sharing in the wonderful stories and history each piece has.

Jewellery is often more highly sentimentally charged and personally prized than other forms of art or luxury items. Should a piece be lost or damaged, the sentimental value is often irreplaceable. It is of some comfort then that a client will at least receive the right amount in compensation if they are insured with an up-to date valuation in a changing market.

That’s where I come in. It’s my job to know this market inside out and how it will impact the value of any piece that may come under my eye.

The diamond market
There’s no denying that diamonds have a timeless beauty that transcends all fashion and trends. But this ageless quality does not render them immune to market fluctuations. Indeed, if you’ve a piece valued between 2015 and 2018, it’s very likely to be undervalued as the market has picked up again since then. If your valuation is even older, your piece may now be worth much more than you are aware: one of the biggest hikes was seen between 2005 and 2010.

Red is the rarest colour
Then, of course, there’s the type of diamond being valued. Remarkably, coloured diamonds are still relatively underappreciated by many clients and the wider population, but their unique beauty is undeniable.

Colour in a diamond usually results from a chemical impurity such as nitrogen causing yellow or boron causing blue. Red diamonds, however, have no such impurity in their chemical composition. Instead, the colour is due to a very rare deformation in the pure carbon atomic structure – essentially atoms have slipped or been misplaced. This defect causes light to bend in a way that our eyes see the colour red.

The sapphire surge
Blue sapphires remain by far the best seller in the coloured gemstone market, with the finer grade sapphires such as Burmese and Ceylon continuing to increase in value.

In fact, last year the hammer price for natural unheated sapphires kept overtaking their auction estimates by 3-5 times. Kashmir sapphires are still the most valuable and have become incredibly rare – so knowing the origin of your sapphire can make a vast difference in its value.
Looking wider to the branded market, pieces by luxury jewellers such as Cartier, Bulgari and Chopard increase on a yearly basis. A client’s current insurance replacement figure can quite quickly become woefully insufficient, especially for vintage pieces and newer branded pieces that have become discontinued.

Regular appraisals recommended
In my experience, I often value items that have not been appraised for many years, with some even still insured under the original purchase receipt of more than a decade ago. The danger being that you could be seriously under-insured and face the double disappointment of financial loss as well as the sentimental cost.

Not only does an up-to-date valuation help avoid having to make up any cost difference or accept a lesser quality item as a replacement, it also gives a chance for the jewellery to be checked over for potential loose settings or necessary repair work. This can avoid that sinking feeling when you look at your beautiful diamond ring only to see an empty space where your precious stone once sat.

Authenticity assured
A valuer will also confirm the authenticity of a gemstone and its certificate. It’s a part of the industry I wish did not exist, but fakes are out there. The industry as a whole has seen a marked increase in the number of fake certificates or certificates from disreputable sources that claim a gemstone is something it is not – whether that is in relation to treatments, enhancements, quality grades or actual composition.

Show it off
Jewellery is a passion of mine, as it is for any collector or gifter. But as with any real treasure, we can have a tendency to lock it away for safekeeping, be it in a safe or a dusty shoe box. My advice for you is to get it out – let it be seen and appreciated. And if it is great-grandmother’s tiara that you think you will never wear, have it remodelled so it can be enjoyed by yourself and others. These beautiful items deserve the attention. But please, whatever the piece, don’t forget to have it valued first.

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