Appraisals are documents provided by jewelry stores and independent appraisers which detail the characteristics of jewelry items. Appraisals can cost hundreds of dollars, so you will want to be sure that having your jewelry appraised is worthwhile, before doing so.
In the case of diamonds, it is nearly impossible to conduct an accurate grading while they are mounted. That is why appraisals typically contain a color and/or clarity range as opposed to an outright grade.
Retail replacement value refers to the approximate cost you would incur should you attempt to purchase a matching piece at a jewelry store. People often confuse “appraised value” with “resale value”. Appraised value is in no way an indicator of a jewelry piece’s resale value. In fact, appraised value is usually an inflated retail price. Most people obtain their appraisals from the place of purchase. These stores are incented to inflate the appraised value of their items, creating the illusion that their selling price was a “bargain”. Independent appraisers also face pressure to inflate appraised values in order to meet/exceed their client’s expectations in regards to the worth of their jewelry items.
For the majority of people, the only time it makes sense to have a jewelry piece appraised is when an insurance company requests it for the purpose of determining an appropriate coverage value. Apart from that, having jewelry appraised is an unnecessary expense. The values they contain are not comparable to what you can expect to be offered in the resale market. Furthermore, qualified jewelry and diamond buyers offer free valuation services, which may not be as comprehensive, but are much more relevant to the real value and quality of your jewelry piece then an appraisal. Rather than paying an appraiser, you could simply take your item to reputable jewelry and/or diamond buyers and allow them to detail all of its characteristics for you, free of charge.