Appraising jewelry – it’s about more than gemology. A certified, trusted appraiser is not only educated in precious gems, but they’ve studied the methodologies, or the ‘measuring, sawing, soldering and finishing’ of jewelry. Methodology helps the appraiser speculate the age, craftsmanship, as well as the geography of the piece. Using every clue a piece of jewelry can provide makes appraisers the investigative experts of the jewelry industry.
Steve Silver is one of the best investigators in the industry. With more than 35 years in the jewelry business nothing surprises him. He’s held Princess Diana’s famous Swan Lake Suite necklace and matching earrings during one appraisal appointment, only to move on to an assumed valuable estate piece worth nearly nothing. Either way his days are never the same.
Steve’s love affair with jewelry began the summer after his junior year in college when he reluctantly went to work in his uncle’s newly purchased jewelry store. Having to give up his summer job selling luggage, he wasn’t sure about working behind a jewelry counter. Immediately his fears were allayed as an insatiable desire to know more, learn more and study more about gemology took over.
“I had planned to go to law school,” recalls Steve, “until I fell in love with jewelry in 1978. I began to read about diamonds and colored stones and watches and manufacturing and couldn’t get enough information. There was so much to learn.”
Steve ran the family business for 17 years, taking the store from 1,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet before retiring in 1994. Needing a break from the long hours and tremendous demand of retail left him longing for something different. With a Gemological Institute of America gemology degree in one hand and a passion for jewelry in the other Steve began to consider the appraisal industry.
“I spoke with several other jewelers and threw out the idea of opening an appraisal business and they all loved the idea. I knew I had the knowledge, experience and education to do it, and they confirmed that I had a trusted reputation making referrals from other jewelers a certainty.” And thus his business, Jewelry Appraisal Services, was born.
Everything Steve endeavors to do begins with research, and his foray into the appraisal field was no exception. Contemplating what kept customers from seeking appraisal services led him to while-you-wait assessments so clients wouldn’t have to leave their jewelry. He also created a flat fee pricing structure for appraising diamonds taking the guess work out of the cost.
Soon retail referrals started coming in, then insurance companies started calling. After several years in business he secured a partnership with a chain of pawnshops producing training videos to help their employees determine authentic stones from fake ones. Steve has even been involved in court cases as an expert witness placing him on the stand under oath.
As business progressed he purchased portable equipment allowing him to take his appraisal lab to homes, offices or other client locations in order to meet demand. His flexibility coupled with more than three decades of hands-on experience keeps business flowing, but it’s his love of all things jewelry that brings a smile to his face.
“I don’t want any retailer to tell their customers they don’t appraise jewelry. All they have to do is send it to me! I will appraise it in a single day, turn and ship it back. I don’t want any jeweler telling their customers they can’t do it!”
At the end of day, regardless of what’s walked in or out of his door, Steve Silver loves what he does. He sees clients by appointment and knows each one comes with a different piece of jewelry and their own unique story. But his insatiable passion for this industry and the gems he fell in love with nearly 40 years ago is what really drives him forward.