May 18, 2024

Bucks: Gold’s Price and Your Jewelry Stash

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Gold prices have skyrocketed over the last decade, which means your jewelry may be under-insured if you haven’t had it appraised recently.

Jewelers Mutual, a specialty insurer based in Wisconsin, recently surveyed 428 married women and found that more than half of them either had never had their engagement rings appraised or hadn’t done so in the prior 10 years. That could be a costly oversight if they lose or damage a piece, given that gold now sells for close to $1,500 an ounce, or more than six times the roughly $240 an ounce it brought 10 years ago, says the metals site,

Michael Maley, vice president of personal insurance lines for Jewelers Mutual, says jewelry owners should take their pieces to a reputable jeweler for an updated appraisal, and should check their policies to see what their coverage limit is. He has seen some instances where the existing coverage wasn’t enough to pay for the full replacement cost of a piece of jewelry. “If you got married 20 years ago,” he says, “is that limit still adequate?”

The Insurance Information Institute, an industry group, says a homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers the theft of jewelry up to a set limit — $1,500 is standard — but usually doesn’t cover damage to the item, or loss. You can purchase additional protection at extra cost, by having the item “scheduled,” or itemized, on the policy. The extra coverage, often called a “floater,” also adds protection for damage or loss–including, say, accidentally washing your ring down the kitchen drain.

Another option is to buy a specific jewelry policy, which is what Jewelers Mutual sells. Such policies are priced depending on the value of the piece and its location (higher crime areas carry higher rates) and can cover repair or replacement of the jewelry if it is lost, stolen or (my personal favorite insurance term) the subject of a “mysterious disappearance,” which is when an item is gone, but it’s unclear if it was lost or stolen. (Such situations might include, ‘my gold watch is gone but I’m not sure what happened; did it fall off when I was mowing the lawn, or was my house burglarized?’)

Scheduling the item on your homeowner’s policy or buying a specialty policy both require that you have the piece evaluated, or appraised. Mr. Maley says it’s a good idea to have jewelry inspected periodically anyway, to make sure clasps or prongs aren’t damaged, perhaps putting a gem at risk.

Have you recently had your jewelry appraised? Did you need to increase insurance coverage as a result?

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