Consumer Smart

Smart Shopping When Traveling Abroad

As appraisers, we see many clients with items of jewelry bought while on destination vacations, including quite a few from cruise ship vacations. More often than not, the story does not have a happy ending. For our vacationing friends (as well as others traveling on business), our advice is simple: If you want to buy gems or jewelry away from home, especially on a cruise, do so because you’ve fallen in love with the piece or as a memento of your vacation, but never buy jewelry for the purpose of “investment.”

The cruise ship travel industry is vast. In 2010, industry estimates of cruise ship passengers was 14.8 million with 16.3 million in 2011. The industry revenue for the US economy was $37.85 billion.¹ That is ‘b’ as in Billion. These statistic present a titanic (if you will excuse the pun) opportunity for deception and puffery from jewelry stores affiliated with the travel business, and vacationers looking to be “entertained.” The numbers suggest that the cases we hear about may really only be the tip of the iceberg (again, excuse our reference!).

The “Independent Appraiser” Designation

It has come to our attention that from time to time various sales people, retail establishments and institutions require appraisals to be done by “Independent Appraisers”.   That would be Graduate Gemologists who just appraise jewelry and do not hold themselves out to partake in sales of fine jewelry, gems or watches.

As a professional Accredited Senior Appraiser, designated Master Gemologist Appraiser® it is against the code of ethics of the ASA (or any peer society Appraisal group) to appraise an item, and follow through with a sale – for a similar item.  Nor would it be appropriate to be judgemental and editorialize the item to be appraised. It would fall under the limits of our code of ethics, not to mention that it would not be considered “arms length”.

We can appraise an item for its qualitative and quantitative properties for a full report or consultation. However, we will not proffer items in lieu of the item being examined. (It is for that reason that we are approved by the folks at Diamonds International.)

The fact of the matter is that many qualified Jewelers are third and fourth generation, with some moving into the professional appraisal practice mode as a career professional in this area of expertise.

The two are clinically objective and separate positions determining value.  In many cases Professional Appraisers outline their purpose and function with the client, and, in the event the Appraiser represents the client, they would outline the details of commission and representation as well.

Most times folks in need of appraisal reports have purchased an item in International waters.  The  Jewelry entrepreneur may not see the merit or value in the same way the buyer did – and – project his disdainful opinion at the same time.

A professional Appraiser is reporting the truth, and detailing the qualitative and quantitative features of the item to be examined and valued. Unsupported judgements are not valid appraisals.