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What is a Certified Gemologist Appraiser?

Most of the people who visit us here at Sanchez-Hawlkins Fine Jewelers need a jewelry appraisal by a Certified Gemologist Appraiser for their insurance. This jewelry appraisals are usually requested by your insurance agent before they will bind your policy.
Photo of the Certified Gemologist Appraiser lapel pin that is only awarded to those who achieve their CGA
This is Erica's CGA pin she earned after receiving her Certified Gemologist Appraiser credentials

Why Does Your Insurance Company Ask for Apprisals from Someone with Cridentials?

Since fine jewelry is such a high value industry, it's hard to believe that the U.S. Government doesn't regulate who is allowed to asses the value of your jewelry. There are laws that stipulate what it means to be 14k and 18k gold, and other laws that require accuracy of the weights and measures used for appraisals, but there's nothing stopping anyone from writing a jewelry appraisal for you when you buy your jewelry.
This is why there's so much fraud when buying jewelry online, because the seller can give you their own appraisal claiming anything they want. When it comes to buying jewelry online that's not backed by a trusted retail store or other well known brand, it really is a "buyer beware" industry.
This is why your insurance company will require you to have your jewelry appraised by someone with the credentials that prove they know what they are doing. Any appraisal given to you by a non-certified appraiser is nothing more than a stated value of what you paid for the jewelry, not it's actual fair market value.

So, what is a Certified Gemologist Appraiser?

In comes the Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CGA). Right here in Lake Havasu City, AZ, we have a Certified Gemologist Appraiser on staff. Just like other industries that require many years of training before graduating or attaining a license as a plumber or electrician, a jeweler must also go through al lot of training and pass strenuous tests in valuing jewelry.
Jeweler examining a piece of jewelry with a jeweler's loupe
The first step in the journey to becoming a CGA is to attend classes with with the Gemological Institute of America and earn a Graduate Gemologist, or G.G. It's through these studies that the jeweler learns about the grading and identification of gemstones and diamonds. Because gemstones come in all different colors, the coursework in these classes includes a lot of hands on training to understand things like, how to identify a red gemstone as a garnet or a ruby, even though they look the same to the untrained eye.
After completing the Graduate Gemologist training, the next step to becoming a CGA is to learn the actual study of appraising, which is where the jeweler learns to value the jewelry itself based on a complicated set of factors that fluctuate based on current metal prices, availability, history, rarity, and anything else that may cause the value of jewelry to fluctuate.

This is a list of the classes and certification levels that someone must complete before they graduate as a Certified Gemologist Appraiser:
  • Graduate Diamonds (GIA)
  • Graduate Colored Gemstones (GIA)
  • Graduate Gemologist (GIA)
  • AGS Way (AGS)
  • Registered Jeweler (AGS)
  • Certified Gemologist Appraiser Bookwork (AGS)
  • Attend Appraisals I & II Classes (AGS)
  • Certified Gemologist Appraiser Exam - Theory (AGS)
  • Certified Gemologist Appraiser Exam - Practical (AGS)
  • Adhere to the AGS Code of Ethics and the AGS Way
  • Complete Continuing Education course
As you can see this is a lot of work, and we're proud to say that Erica Sanchez-Hawlkins, one of the owners here at Sanchez-Hawlkins Fine Jewelers, has achieved this level of training and professionalism.
It is our philosophy that jewelers should never misrepresent their level of knowledge and skill. We also feel that any retail jewelry store or jewelry website, without a properly trained staff, could incorrectly state the value of what they are selling. Whenever you find two jewelers selling similar items for vastly different prices, you should take a look at the credentials of the jewelers themselves and consider that expression "buyer beware."