Category Archives: Estate Appraisals

Comments about appraising estates: Considerations, Issues, Fair Market Value

Fear Free Consultations for All Seasons

Happy Halloween

No matter what the trend, or the season, The Jewelry Judge can consult on your purchase before you buy.

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Fear Free

Many retailers will hold a credit card while an item is ‘out on approval’ for a few hours while an independent appraiser authenticates and validates the item.  Others will accept a return – be sure to check individual store policies to avoid any surprises and beware of ‘final sale’ items.

The Jewelry Judge offers same day turn-around and walk-in appointments (some wait-time may be necessary).  Call us at 713 961-1432 to verify authenticity and consult before committing to large dollar purchases. Book On-Line Today!

We look forward to a helping celebrate a happy holiday season with you!

Our experience is broad. Our depth of knowledge runs deep.

Tree

With 66 years in the jewelry industry that includes, design, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and retailing, Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is uniquely qualified to consult and appraise all types of fine jewelry.
BenAs a Master Graduate Gemologist and Independent Appraiser, he approaches each task from the prospective of a scientist whose first task is to identify and authenticate.  Only then, when the facts are in, can appropriate values be determined.

Mr. Gordon is a living encyclopedia. He has seen the sputnik designs of the 50s and 60s; the chunky funky 70s and 80s; the bangles, chokers and chains of the 90s; and the millennial modern that is now peppered with man-made diamonds and colored stones.

Houston Jewelry Appraiser - Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - AGS Certification

Whatever the era or style, The Jewelry Judge can help you care for, collect, appreciate and protect your fine jewelry.

“Social and technological influences effect the trends in jewelry throughout history,” Mr. Gordon comments, “but quality of craftsmanship and design are lasting.”

With deep roots in the community, The Jewelry Judge stands as an advocate for his clients.  ‘Independent’ means he does not represent any other interest but you.  Mr. Gordon consults with both buyers and sellers to assure fair pricing and fully disclosed representation.

15 Minute

Many clients do not know if their jewelry items need an official written appraisal report.  For example, if you are selling an item you won’t need to insure it, but you will need to know where to go to obtain a fair price. Often a short and simple consultation will meet your need.  We offer a FREE fifteen (15) minute consultation to determine the next step(s).  It is important to have a face to face meeting since proper authentication cannot be done from photographs alone.

See what a free 15 minute consultation can do for you.

Book Appointment  On-Line 

or   Call:  713-961-1432

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon
5433 Westheimer Rd. #606
Houston, TX. 77056
Information You Can Trust!

Where to Buy Environmentally Friendly Jewelry

Is there such thing as environmentally friendly jewelry?

Lab grown diamonds have become increasingly popular, but use huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to create the high pressure and heat conditions that produce these factory made diamonds.

So where else can a person go to find jewelry they would be proud to wear and feel good about doing something for the environment?  It may be easier than you think!

Think Retail Showrooms

Many retail jewelers have a separate case in their showrooms for consignment ‘Estate Jewelry.’

The term, Estate Jewelry may sound like ‘dowager’ jewels or like Queen Victoria’s mourning jewelry, but there are many gems (no pun here) to be found.  Estate Jewelry is simply ‘pre-owned’ jewelry. Like cars, there are pre-owned lemons and pre-owned fine collectors’ specimens.

“Good design is timeless,” says Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon, “especially if it           carries a luxury brand such as Cartier or Tiffany.  These tend to be the brands          that hold their value.”

Houston Jewelry Appraiser - Heritage Auctions - NAJA Auctions

Auction sales are a good source of high-end estate jewelry.  It’s a good idea to set your maximum price to prevent getting carried away in the emotion and excitement of the sale.  We recommend that you preview the items before bidding – it’s best if the auction gallery is local and you can see and touch the items.

Consider Pawn Shops

Pawn shops always have quantities of estate jewelry in inventory i.e. pre-owned.  The secret is to look for unique pieces, not those piled up in the glass cases, but ask for any items that may be in their vaults.  Use words like ‘quality,’ ‘ vintage,’ ‘classic,’ ‘designer,’ when talking with the proprietor and he/she will hopefully bring out interesting trays of available fine jewelry.

On Line Purchases

And of course, the Internet has numerous sites where estate jewelry can be found.  Be sure to read the return policy before purchasing.

Trust but Verify: Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double Check

But how do you know what you’re getting and is it priced fairly?

“That’s where I come in,” Ben Gordon smiles. “Reputable retailers will often allow a buyer to get a second opinion before completing the sale.”

Reputable retailers will hold a credit card while the jewelry is out for examination.  There may also be a return policy that will allow for a piece to be returned within a specified period.  Know these policies BEFORE you commit.

So don’t be afraid of Estate Jewelry – there’s an expert consultant available to help you.  And you’ll be helping the environment with your purchase.

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Verify

The Jewelry Judge responds to urgent requests for a consultation to confirm authenticity and value.  In less than one hour, he can weigh, measure, and test diamonds and colored stones; identify period and style;  provide historic information; and examine for condition issues.

No Such Thing as a ‘Certified Diamond’

BenThat may sound harsh, especially with jewelry stores everywhere offering certified diamonds.  So, what’s up with that?

“We are not the compliance police,” asserts Mr. Gordon, “ but the term ‘Certified, or Certificated’ is old school marketing.” The term, ‘Certificate’ carried too many different meanings and the jewelry industry itself issued guidelines to help standardize the terminology for describing diamonds and gemstones.  “Technically, any retailer can create a Certificate, but only gem labs create Grading Reports,” The Jewelry Judge explains.

GIA CertA big part of the Jewelry Judge mission is education, so clarity (no pun here) is important to Mr. Gordon.  Diamonds with Grading Reports have undergone scientific analysis by qualified professionals who analyse, report and grade the qualities of each gemstone.  There will be a description for each of the four C’s, i.e., Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat weight.  There will also be additional language to describe fluorescence, color enhancement, fracture filling or heat treatments.

Store receipts and typical Certificates have little to no meaning because they do not go far enough to completely describe a diamond.  “Don’t mix up the terms,” the Judge warns.

Diamonds with a laboratory Grading Report may be priced slightly higher than non-graded diamonds because of the extra step of having the gemological laboratory test them.  A jeweler may pass this cost along to the buyer.

How do I Get a Laboratory Grading Report?

“Each appraisal we create comes with a grading report,” Mr. Gordon explains. A laboratory grading report is for analysis and identification only.  “Our testing is similar to the testing that is done at the gem labs, but our purpose is to arrive at a valuation.  We take the report one step further by adding current market value.” A diamond Grading Report’s details should never change, (unless the stone is damaged or altered), but appraisal values will certainly change with market conditions.

“If your diamond did not come with a Grading Report, don’t worry,” assures Ben.  For a service fee, important stones can be sent to a reputable lab to obtain a Grading Report.  The GIA, Gemological Institute of America and AGS (American Gem Society) are two reputable gem labs based in the US.  There are other laboratories around the world, but they have not earned the level of trust of  the US based gem labs.

Diamond Plot
Diamond Plotting Diagram
(courtesy of GIA)

Double-Check for Peace of Mind

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double CheckMany of the consultations we do are to confirm laboratory Grading Reports,” Mr. Gordon explains.  “And sometimes we find that the grading report that comes with a diamond, does not match.”  It’s always best to ‘trust but verify’ especially with new purchases.  In some cases, an honest mistake has been made, in others, there may be a suspicion of fraud. 

The Jewelry Judge can identify discrepancies and offer suggestions for resolution.  “We have saved or recovered thousands of dollars for our clients, by helping them to document a claim,” Mr. Gordon added.

Click here to schedule a visit with The Jewelry Judge. Verify a laboratory grading report, retrieve a lost one, or learn current values of your precious jewelry or loose diamonds.   The peace of mind you’ll gain, as well as “Information You Can Trust” is worth an hour of your time.  Consult the most experienced Houston Jewelry Appraiser!

Houston Jewelry Appraiser - If you love

When are diamonds like food?

Diamond Salt+PepperWhen they are SALT + PEPPER Diamonds!

Just as there are many types of diets, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, Mediterranean, etc. – there are many types and quality of diamonds for every taste and budget.

We’ve become familiar with jewelry that features black diamonds, champagne diamonds, chocolate diamonds, Fat Free diamonds (a registered trademark).

Most of these names are marketing terms for darker colored diamonds emphasizing their color.

There is a new emerging trend in diamonds which are being marketed for their inclusions! Click the link to see the latest designs.

Something for Every Taste

4CsSalt and pepper diamonds are making an entrance this season.

Traditionally diamonds have been valued for their 4Cs, of which a key characteristic is clarity – or lack of inclusions, sometimes described as flaws.

Salt and pepper diamonds are for an unconventional bride or jewelry collector. Their inclusions are described as features and they bring a unique character to the diamond.

“What we see here, is the focus on the design, rather than the gemstone,” Mr. Gordon observes. “It’s not about quality, but more about price and style.” Beauty is where we find it. Taste is personal.

Of course, they’re still true diamonds. In fact, one way to authenticate an earth mined diamond is to look for internal characteristics. With this new trend, these characteristics are considered desirable.

Food for Thought…

What does this Houston Appraiser think about salt and pepper diamonds?

“Well, grins Ben Gordon, aka The Jewelry Judge, “I’ve made my bread and butter for over 65 years valuing diamonds. In some ways, they make my job easier. The good news is, so far at least, they are not fakes masquerading as real diamonds.”

who_you_gonna_call_jewelry_purchase

“It’s my job to stay up to date with the industry,” says The Jewelry Judge, “I don’t form a personal opinion; I apply objective testing and my knowledge to identify, evaluate, and value jewelry, gemstones and watches, to provide information that can be trusted as fact.”

“Some might say that the science of appraising takes away from the romance, but for me, I can never satisfy my curiosity to peer inside a diamond. For me, diamonds of any kind are a feast!”

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Marilyn LOVE

Estate Valuations: Relieving a Burden

Houston Jewelry Appraiser - If you lovePaying it Forward

Recently a gentleman in his seventies came into our gem lab.
He brought a few pieces of jewelry he had given his wife over the years.
He informed us, “This is part of our estate even though it sits in our safe deposit box at the bank, I need to start an inventory and get values for our kids.”

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Houston Jewelry Appraisal - While You Watch

When we asked why, he responded,
“Why put them through the trouble when we pass on? They’ll be busy enough with memorial details and visiting relatives.”

What a thoughtful act of love and kindness. While he and his wife are in good health and look forward to many years, they are planning ahead.

We finished the estate appraisals in an afternoon.

Within a week we heard from him again. He brought in the remaining contents of the safe deposit box. He now has a full inventory with details and thanked us for the peace of mind.

Safe-Deposit-BoxesThe cost of an estate appraisal can be based upon the number of items OR the amount of time depending upon the preference of the owner.

This head of the family is taking one burden off the shoulders of his heirs.

That’s what we call ‘paying it forward.’ We appreciate clients like this. His heirs will thank him too.

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Feb 3- 5 Star Review Google

 

What Should You Do With Mom’s Jewelry?

Estate3 A parents death is a traumatic and difficult experience for those left behind.

Don’t let the estate settlement of your jewelry cause additional complexity or disharmony among your heirs.

We know jewelry is important to some and less important to others.

To some it is memories and a story that connects them to the dearly departed.

To others it represents a financial gift.

Protect Your Inheritance by ensuring you have fair market value appraisal reports for your estate jewelry and include a copy with your will. Designate an heir to receive each piece or have the estate sell the jewelry, since cash is always easier to fairly distribute.

Prevent misunderstandings and ill feelings. If you are in the process of settling an estate that includes jewelry, bring it in for a consultation, so we can help identify what is real and what is costume jewelry. Too often people discard items, thinking them fake when they are actually real. Some costume jewelry has value as collector items.

Don’t let some appraiser come in and cherry-pick the best pieces.

We Do Not Buy or Sell Jewelry!

Come in for a Jewelry Judge Consultation, call (713) 961-1432 or Book an Appointment On-Line Today!

Why is a Jewelry Appraisal like a Home Inspection?

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon -3WhiteWhileYouWatch You need to know;

  • What you’re getting before you buy.
  • The features of the house and if any features reveal the need for repair or maintenance, before you make a commitment.
  • Comparable values of similar homes for sale, under contract or sold in the area.
  • if there are any ‘money traps’, was everything properly disclosed to you.
  • Assure you’re getting what you pay for in a house.
  • Know the price you paid is fair.

How much risk are you willing to take by undervaluing, or overvaluing your new home?

Think about what you are willing to pay for a home? $65,000?  $250,000? over a $million?

Now replace words ‘house’ and ‘home’ in the above text with ‘Diamond’, ‘Engagement Ring’ or ‘Estate Jewelry’.

And think about what an appraisal report could be worth to you…to your heirs….

As with a home inspection you expect a written report with accurate measurements, clear photographs, and detailed descriptions prepared by a qualified professional and delivered in a timely manner.

Batman

Arrive at your Jewelry Judge appointment with questions and concerns – You will leave with peace of mind.

The Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon specializes in the appraisal of estate jewelry!

Estate Jewelry

estatejewelryThe Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon specializes in the appraisal of estate jewelry for buyers and sellers alike.  Estate jewelry comes in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Pieces can be made from diamonds, gold, silver, turquoise, and other rare and precious metals and gemstones.  Name brand pieces are popular, as are rare and well-crafted pieces from bygone times and from around the world.

Selling Estate Jewelry?

Do you have old, rare, valuable, or unique pieces that you would like to sell?  Wedding engagement rings, loose diamonds, and diamond earrings are some popular items today.  We can provide you on the spot verbal consultation of value for these and similar pieces.  Best of all, we can often direct you to local merchants that pay higher prices than most people often obtain on their own.  With 64 years in the jewelry trade and a longstanding appraisal business in estate jewelry, Ben has the expertise required to appropriately identify, price and provide the history of estate jewelry.  Talk to the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon today about any unwanted estate jewelry you have lying around.

artnouveau Buying Estate Jewelry?

Are you an antique, estate and swap meet fanatic?  Looking for old, rare, valuable, or unique pieces of jewelry?  Once you find that perfect piece to express your feelings of love, talk to the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon.  Ben has the expertise required to appropriately identify, value and give the history of any piece of estate jewelry.

Safeguard Your Jewelry

jewelry-judge-ben-gordon-group0Most seniors, both men and women, have had a life time to either inherit or receive several pieces of fine jewelry.  After years of accumulating fine jewelry and watches, the majority of a senior’s estate jewelry goes undocumented until it becomes a job for their children.  The burden of cleaning out closets, furniture, nick-knacks and keepsakes to be distributed among children, grandchildren, and favorite charities may also fall to your children.  Don’t leave your fine jewelry to chance!

1houseTransitioning from one home to another is stressful and often little things fall through the gaps in planning.  With jewelry it is often only after a loss that we recognize the importance of the piece.  The history, memory or story, whether a gift or family heirloom, it is wise to document your jewelry with an appraisal.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon recommends having an appraisal when jewelry is purchased to confirm the value and ensure you have not unknowingly purchased an item that was improperly identified or misrepresented.

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When preparing to move, Ben recommends documenting fine jewelry, watches, diamonds and colored gemstones with an appraisal report.  An appraisal or consultation of fine jewelry, watches, diamonds, and colored gemstones is also important for insurance replacement, estate distribution, liquidation and both pre/post purchase confirmation.

Safety Tips When Moving:

  1. Before you move, make sure all your fine jewelry, watches and gemstones are insured.
  2. Keep it with you, Place it in a safety deposit box or Have a family member lock it away for you until you are settled.
  3. Seniors downsizing to a senior community, appraise and document your jewelry, to include who will inherit each piece for estate-planning purposes.
  4. If moving to a condo, apartment or senior community, check your renter’s insurance policy for what is covered and check other insurance companies, who specialize in insuring jewelry.
  5. Update appraisals every 3-5 years because of continually changing market values.

When it comes to fine jewelry, being under-insured, especially for emotionally meaningful
family pieces, can be devastating when it comes to theft, fire, flooding or other loss.

jj-64yearsJewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides gemstone and jewelry appraisals for insurance, probate and estate purposes, as well as consultation services for pre-purchases, for those wanting more information before buying jewelry on-line or from local stores.  Ben Gordon, Master Graduate Gemologist/Appraiser has been appraising jewelry in the Galleria area since 1975.  Ben brings over sixty-four years (64) experience to his business.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is an “independent” appraiser, not affiliated with any retail establishment or jewelry manufacturer, and we do not buy or sell jewelry.  We represent the client, exclusively.  Our “While You Watch” appraising offers customers the opportunity to learn and participate in the appraisal procedure from beginning to end, providing the comfort of knowing that your jewelry never leaves your sight.

Pick Up & Delivery Available!  We provide pickup and delivery of your jewelry for valuation consultation or appraisals with a guaranteed 24 Hour turn around.  Senior discount available, know what you have and what your jewelry is worth, call us today!

Ben advocates fair pricing and helps his clients understand and protect their valuable assets.  His informative public awareness programs for interested groups and professional organizations provide numerous practical consumer tips.  For more information about speaking engagements or appraisals, click jewelryjudgebengordon.com or find him on the Houston Better Business Bureau website.

We Do House Calls!

House Calls are not something from the past. You have seen Mobile libraries, mobile dentists, mobile x-rays, even mobile pet & people groomers. Trust the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon for a mobile independent jewelry appraisal.

Typically with diamonds, colored stones, and fine jewelry, appraising requires a consultation in the appraiser’s office or a gem lab. But today’s gem and jewelry technology is mobile.

Master Graduate Gemologist/Appraiser, Ben Gordon and his team of GIA (Gemological Institute of America) graduate gemologists make house calls, office visits, and consultations in the Greater Houston area wherever feasible.

“These days, especially for parents or family members with limited mobility, we are frequently asked if we can go to the client’s location. Some clients are unable to travel across town with a suitcase full of jewelry that has been accumulated over a lifetime, so we travel to them,” Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon remarks. “We go where we are needed.”
“It’s not as easy as it sounds,” he adds. “We need to bring specialized equipment along, but we are willing to help our clients who require this additional service.”

Before determining the value of a jewelry piece, a condition check is done to be sure there are no loose stones or bent or broken prongs. Precious stones and diamonds are examined for chips or cracks. Then the jewelry is steam cleaned. All of this before the weighing and measuring begins. Metals are also tested to determine the karat weight of the gold, i.e. 14k, 18k or 22k. An onsite visit may take from two to four hours or more depending upon the number of jewelry items to be appraised.

Ms. Mary Carlson, Graduate Gemologist and member of the professional team at The Jewelry Judge, travels with the mobile laboratory that includes a jeweler’s microscope equipped with special lighting and a refractometer used to test light bending in gemstones. “The mobile lab is heavy, but quite compact. I am comfortable lifting weights. In fact, weight lifting is part of my fitness routine!” she adds.

Who uses mobile appraisal services from Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon? Baby Boomer seeking estate planning evaluations, residents of assisted living facilities, time pressed executives unable to get away from the office, trust and loan officers who must periodically value collateral, and families and individuals who do not wish to transport valuables from a bank vault.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is not affiliated with any retail jewelry store. “Being an independent appraiser is important to me and our clients,” Mr. Gordon explains. “It means we do not buy or sell for our own account and therefore can be completely impartial in our valuations.”

Home visits for doctors may be pretty rare these days. But mobile jewelry appraising is seeing an increase in demand. Just one more specialized concierge service from the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon.