With the snow falling early this year, many of us have thoughts of warm vacation get-away on our minds. One of the most common souvenirs people bring back from vacation, besides a t-shirt, is jewellery. Depending on your budget, you may be spending a couple of hundred dollars or 10’s of thousands of dollars. I regularly have clients ask me to appraise their “unique” and “rare” piece of jewellery bought on a reputable cruise ship or jewellery stand in an open market while on vacation. This jewellery often comes with certificates of authenticity that are legitimate, but they do not provide accurate information on the value of the piece. For example, the Tanzanite ring that you paid $1000 for comes with a certificate that guarantees that it is a genuine Tanzanite stone. The ring is also stamped 18K so you feel pretty good about dishing out the funds and bringing home your treasure. Once home, you decide to have your ring appraised. Since you bought it on sale, you expect it to appraise much higher than the price you paid so when the report comes back with a $250 value, you just about want to strangle the gemmologist/appraiser that did the appraisal.
First of all, don’t strangle your gemmologist. Not only are there very few of them, but they most likely are able to explain why your Tanzanite ring appraised much lower than the purchase price.
Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence. Vendors know that they are not likely to see you, the tourist, again any time soon. They are good sales people and they will play on your emotions and sentiments to encourage you to buy that very rare, one-of-a-king gemstone. They know the odds of you knowing anything about gemstones are slim and because you want to own something special to commemorate your special vacation, you are an easy target. Because the certificate states that the gemstone is what it states to be, legally they are covered and have done nothing wrong. Coloured stones, just like diamonds, have quality grades which are usually omitted on certificates of authenticity.
That being said, if you feel comfortable buying a certain piece of jewellery while on vacation and you simply adore it, by all means, go for it. Just keep in mind that the value may differ once your gemmologist takes a look at it. Not all jewellery bought on vacation ends up being bad news. I have seen some stunning and unique pieces purchased at bargain prices. If you already plan on purchasing a certain item during your next visit to your favorite vacation spot, run it by your gemmologist and get some tips on what to look for before you purchase