Sunday, November 20, 2016
What's my bracelet really worth?
Several years ago, M.C.'s home insurance broker advised her that she should consider having any valuables she had at home appraised just in case there was a theft or damage to the property. M.C. took the advice and contacted a local jewelry store to do the appraising. She left her jewelry at the store and a week or so later she received the appraisals which M.C. filed with her insurance company.
Among the items M.C. had appraised were several pieces of jewelry she had purchased or received as gifts over the years -- an assortment of rings, bracelets and necklaces. One of these pieces was an art deco bracelet with amethyst and small diamond chips in it that her mother had found years before and had given M.C. after she commented that she liked it.
When the appraisals came back, the found art deco bracelet was determined to be a white gold with amethyst small diamond chips and valued at $450. M.C. was tickled that a bracelet she had no plans to sell and that was found on the street by her mother had such value.
Several years passed. M.C.'s still occasionally wore the bracelet, but not as frequently as she had before since the safety latch never held closed consistently and it proved a nuisance to keep on her wrist.
One morning as she was reading her daily newspaper over breakfast, M.C. saw an ad from a jewelry store announcing that it was doing free appraisals. The store was a different one from the one that had done the appraisal several years before. M.C. had the day off from work, so she decided to go downtown to run some errands and to pop into the jewelry store to see how much the bracelet might be worth now.
The clerk greeted her, admired the bracelet, and then told M.C. that he wasn't really sure what metal the bracelet was made of. "First, he told me he thought it was 14-karat gold," M.C. writes. If it is, it'd be worth about $130, he told her. But then, he asked M.C. to hold on and he went and retrieved a small vial. He used a dropper to drop some liquid on the bracelet. After a few seconds of looking over the bracelet, he asked her to wait while he consulted with his manager.
When he returned, the clerk told M.C. that they thought the bracelet was gold filled and had no value. M.C. never mentioned the other appraisal to the clerk. She thanked him and went about her day.
"Now, I'm wondering," she writes, "if the bracelet is stolen or if it gets destroyed in a house fire or something, am I obligated to tell my insurer that this other jeweler didn't agree with the first appraiser?"
The right thing is for M.C. to feel just fine about sticking with the original appraisal. The first appraiser took time to study the bracelet and then returned a detailed written appraisal to M.C. The second jeweler, which ran the come-in-and-get-your-stuff-appraised ad as a gimmick to lure customers into the store, seemed unsure and never wrote up an official appraisal.
While she still has no plans to sell the bracelet, M.C. can rest easy knowing that the official appraisal on record with her insurer is one that can be trusted.
Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of www.jeffreyseglin.com, a blog focused on ethical issues.
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