By Josh Garskof
I inherited a diamond necklace from my grandmother. Does my homeowner's policy cover its loss or theft?
That depends on what it's worth -- and how much other jewelry you have. Most homeowner's and renter's policies cover jewelry, but only up to $2,000 for your whole collection, says Steve Weisbart, chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute, a consumer-education organization. So start by checking your current coverage. If you've inherited a pricey piece -- or even if you have a lot of -moderately valuable jewelry -- it's likely that you'll need to add a "jewelry rider" to your policy. Coverage for a $3,000 diamond necklace will typically add less than $100 to your annual premium.
To determine if you need a rider, and for how much, have the piece appraised, even if your grandmother left an old appraisal, because the value has likely increased. Go to najaappraisers.com to find a certified appraiser; don't assume a jewelry shop "gemologist" is certified. For an average of $50 to $300, depending on the complexity of the piece, you'll get an -accurate replacement value that you can give to your insurance company, plus the detailed evidence you'll need should you ever have to make a claim.
As for the rest of your collection, the best indicator of value is the purchase receipt. Any appraisal that the jewelry store provided is likely to have been inflated to make the store's prices look good and won't pass muster with the insurance company. "Make sure you're covered for the price you paid," says Howard Rubin, of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. "That's all the insurance company will allow anyway, even if you insure it for more -- and even if it has loads of sentimental value." For pieces that were gifts, either ask the giver for the receipt, or, if that's impossible or simply too awkward, get them appraised by a certified appraiser as well.