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VALUATIONS

Your insurer might request a valuation report for jewellery and watches which exceed the 'single item limit' specified under your insurance policy. A valuation report gives a detailed summary of the item, along with photographs and a recommended 'replacement value'. This is the expected cost of replacing the item if it's stolen, lost or damaged beyond repair. 

 

Like many independent jewellers, we used to provide valuation reports as an in-house service, and did so over many decades. However, over the past couple of years, the requirements of UK insurers have changed due to a dramatic increase in insurance fraud involving jewellery and luxury watches. Improvements in technology mean that fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods, making it incredibly difficult to spot fakes without specialist equipment. As a result, most insurance providers have become unwilling to accept valuation reports provided by independent jewellers, as they cannot be certain of their accuracy. Instead, they insist reports are provided by a Registered Valuer.

 

Unfortunately, Registered Valuers are very scarce throughout the UK, due to the many years of training required. In addition, due to the increase in lab-grown diamonds on the market, it's becoming increasingly common for insurers to insist on laboratory-grade 'diamond screening' as part of the valuation process, which most independent Registered Valuers cannot offer. 

 

Diamond screening involves using specialist laboratory-grade equipment to determine whether a diamond is natural or lab-grown, before its value is calculated. The value of a natural diamond will be many times higher than a lab-grown equivalent. The difference will often be thousands of pounds, occasionally tens of thousands. Without specialised equipment, it's impossible to determine whether a diamond is natural or lab-grown. It certainly isn't something that can be determined by eye, even by the most competent Registered Valuer. While commercial diamond testers are available, they are expensive and have poor accuracy, so cannot be relied upon in the same way as laboratory testing. The valuer will usually add a disclaimer to their report, explaining that the value has been based on the assumption of a natural diamond, or has been tested to the best of their ability. However as diamond fraud is one of the main issues facing the insurance industry, many insurers will refuse to accept a valuation calculated on this basis, and laboratory-grade diamond screening is often mandatory. 

If your insurer asks you to obtain a valuation report, it's important to ask what their requirements are. For example, what qualifications the valuer needs to hold, and whether laboratory diamond screening is required. If the report doesn't meet the criteria required by your particular insurer, or there is any doubt about how the value was calculated, they can refuse to accept it. At best, it means you have wasted time and money obtaining a useless report. At worst, it can lead to any future insurance claims being rejected. 

 

While some independent jewellers continue to offer in-house valuations, we don’t believe this is worth the risk for our customers. Therefore, all jewellery and watch valuation reports are now arranged through Birmingham Assay Office, who has a team of expert Registered Valuers with more than 150 years of combined experience. As the leading valuation service in the UK, diamonds are laboratory-screened as standard and reports are guaranteed to be accepted by all UK insurers. 

 

The valuations team works diligently using the latest technology and best-practice methods to provide a professional, independent and impartial valuation every time. Every insurance valuation report will include digital photographs with a unique reference number. Birmingham Assay Office will store a copy of these photographs in HD quality, which can be recalled at any time with your reference number. This is invaluable in the event of loss or theft, whether for identifying the item or making a copy of your item. Your report will also include a full and accurate description of each item including the gradings of precious gemstones and diamonds, the metal content, hallmark information and distinguishing features. This information is vital for the success of any future claims, leaving nothing to chance in an insurance validation process. 

This is a third-party service and involves posting your items to Birmingham Assay Office, using Royal Mail Special Delivery. See the Postage section for more information. 

Timescale:

 

The standard timescale for Birmingham Assay Office's valuation service is three weeks, excluding postage times. 

 

An express service is available for a 50% surcharge, which reduces the timescale to approximately five working days excluding postage times. Express services are subject to availability. 

All timescales quoted are approximate. They are not guaranteed and may be extended during busy periods. We have no control over third-party timescales.

Postage:

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​​In addition to the 'per item' prices listed below, a postage charge of £30 applies to each booking. This is only charged once per booking, no matter how many items are sent. It covers the cost of insured postage to and from Birmingham Assay Office, insured for up to £25,000 as standard. If this level of insurance is insufficient, we can obtain additional insurance for an extra cost. Please ask for a quote.

All items will be sent by Royal Mail Special Delivery. While this service is generally reliable, we have no control over items being lost or damaged in transit. Please bear this in mind when choosing to send your item away, especially if it has sentimental value.

 

Prices:

 

The prices for Birmingham Assay Office's insurance valuation services are shown below. Prices are per item, and exclude the postage charge explained above. These prices are for standard jewellery and watches. Additional charges will apply for complex items (see below).  

We offer a 10% discount on each additional item added to your booking. The first item will be charged at full price.

Jewellery prices include cleaning prior to the valuation, but do not include polishing or rhodium plating. If required, these services can be added for an additional charge of £10 for polishing, and £30 for polishing plus rhodium plating. 

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Price per item (excludes postage):

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  • ​​​Non-diamond jewellery:  £130

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  • Diamond jewellery:  £160

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  • Watch:  £190 

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​Additional services:

  • Jewellery polish:  £10

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  • Polish & rhodium plate:  £30

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  • Express surcharge:  50%​​​​

 

Example Costs:

The total cost to value one diamond ring using the standard service would be £190. This includes the £30 postage charge. Upgrading to the express service would cost an extra £80, which is a 50% surcharge on the valuation cost. There is no surcharge applied to postage or polishing/plating costs. 

 

The total cost to value two diamond rings using the standard service would be £334. This includes the £30 postage charge and a 10% discount on the second ring. Upgrading to the express service would cost an extra £152, which is a 50% surcharge on the valuation cost. There is no surcharge applied to postage or polishing/plating costs. 

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Complex items:

​​​​If your item is considered complex, the standard charges will not apply due to the additional time required to undertake the valuation. In this case, we recommend requesting a quote before sending your items away. We will contact Birmingham Assay Office with photographs and a description of your item, to determine whether it would be classed as complex. Prices for complex valuations start at £250 for non-diamond items. Examples of complex items include:

  • 40 stones or more

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  • A mix of stone sizes and shapes

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  • Coloured diamonds

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  • Rare gemstones

  • Designer pieces

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  • Antique pieces

How to book:

Please bring your items in during our normal opening hours, and we will arrange to send them to Birmingham Assay Office. No appointment is needed. 

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