Appraisals on the internet

Are you intending to buy a piece of jewellery from the Internet?  Is it advertised with a valuation schedule?  You might find it advantageous to check the authenticity of the valuation with the valuer before going ahead with the purchase – and then have the item validated after purchase.

The Web is a tempting market place where we can buy almost anything including jewellery.  To encourage people to buy jewellery using the Web, jewellery appraisals often accompany the items thus building confidence in the mind of the purchaser.  Unfortunately these appraisals are not always what they seem.  Any original valuation/appraisal can be modified, falsified, copied and any accompanying laboratory reports/certificates can be made to say just about anything.  These reports can be so misleading that, to all intents and purposes, they bear no resemblance to the item being viewed.  Indeed it is obvious sometimes that the gems described on the valuation/appraisal are not the same as those being offered for sale.

Often the appraisal that is issued along with an item of jewellery is fictitious.  Some are totally spurious and others have been altered so that the contents now match the items being offered for sale.  Offering these accompanying appraisals give authenticity to the jewellery, boost the buyers’ confidence and enhance the prospects of a sale.  They are not so much an inducement to buy as an enticement.

There are known instances of diamonds being switched for imitations, the imitations matching the details on the report/certificate.  These are then passed off as the original items to an unsuspecting client.

Easily obtainable and inexpensive software is available in any computer software outlet, where an original document can be scanned and then modified in the original format of text type and size, etc.  This appears to be original and cannot be easily detected without some form of technical knowledge of the type of jewellery being purchased.

One of the difficulties is that once purchased the “scam” is only detected when the purchaser wishes to sell the items.  The reports have been taken at “face value” and have boosted the buyer’s confidence into believing  “what a clever purchase” it has been.  Unfortunately the reverse is the case, for it is only long after the purchase has been made that the ‘falsified report’ becomes evident.  Of course the jeweller who has “uncovered” the fraud is often not believed, the original purchaser then thinking that the jeweller is trying to “rubbish the original sale”.  The potential seller now feels foolish and it is an unpleasant experience for all concerned.

Protection from these fake/fraudulent documents requires vigilance and a questioning mind at all times.  The following advice should be considered:

1.   Any document should only be taken as genuine when it bears an original signature.

2.   A good indication of authenticity is when the signature is in blue ink: black ink is easily reproduced.

3.   Do not accept the report if it is copied or computer generated in anyway.  Simple tests to confirm the item is the original can be quickly carried out.  For instance, dimensions and weights can be quickly checked.

4.   The professional valuer/appraiser uses a combination of holograms or watermarks or embosses the document thus making copies/forgeries much more difficult.

5.   A telephone call to the appraiser shown on the document will enable verification to be made.  For easier verification each document should have its own unique number.  Digital images of the jewellery also make forgery more difficult.  All these checks should be made BEFORE the purchase is made.

The age-old maxim “if it looks too good to be true it usually is” should always put you on your guard against false promises.  Of course jewellery is available for purchase on the Internet but the buyer should not be persuaded by an accompanying report/appraisal of the item’s value.  Everyone wants to buy at a better price – usually this means cheaper – but many of the best known brand names are being faked.  So it is always worth bearing in mind the even older maxim – CAVEAT EMPTOR – let the buyer beware, meaning in reality that - the buyer is responsible for the quality of the purchase!

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