How can an item have different values?

There are a number of different values you can give an item. Here are a selection of different ways to loosely define an item's value. These can vary tremendously, so when a client of ours asks 'what's my item worth' we have to be very specific as to what they mean. These values can vary enormously for the same item. If you want to know a ball park idea of how these different definitions of value can vary, read to the bottom!

Insurance replacement

 The most common type and is based on replacing an item of jewellery either with the same or an equivalent piece. It includes VAT and is typically the retail price of an item, at the current time of the valuation and would typically take into account location and the type of business an item was purchased from. Occasionally, the valuation may be based on creating a piece to an original design, a facsimile value, but this is rare and carried out in consultation with the client.

  • The condition of the piece is also noted and will be taken into account. Within an insurance value, there are a number of clear identifying markers –
  • NRV or new replacement value: new replacement price of similar item of similar quality
  • SHRV or second hand replacement value: the value of a second hand replacement price of a similar in quality and condition piece
  • ARV or antique replacement value: a value to obtain a similar antique replacement item of similar quality and condition
  • FV or facsimile value: (rare) to make a copy of the item using the same quality materials and processes

Bear in mind that a formal valuation may be more or less than you paid for something. Why? It reflects the amount of money the insurance company would have to give you to replace an item to put you back in the position you were in before you lost the item. A formal valuation takes into account:

1 -replacing anywhere in the UK (from central London to the countryside), not just where you bought the item from. Shops' prices can vary according to their circumstances, type or geography.

2 - the point of time you perform the valuation. So if a market goes up, so would values and vice versa in reverse. Similarly, if you bought a 2nd hand bargain, the money needed to find another equivalent one may be more than paid (and vice versa in reverse).

Some insurance policies won't accept second hand values on their records, and only offer new replacement value, so this may also make a second hand item higher value for this particular policy (is this the right policy for your collection?), as the insurers have to buy new equivalent, or hand make a replica. 

 Private Sale

 An assessment of value between trade price and retail price – usually a value that benefits the buyer and the seller, i.e. that seller benefits from realising a price above trade and the buyer pays a price below ‘retail’.

 Probate (or confirmation of will in Scotland)

 A price based on if the pieces were to be sold at auction after the death of the owner. This is a lower price than insurance and reflects the condition of the piece and the fact that the piece would be in an ‘open market’ situation.

 Loan Security

Usually a value used by a bank or another lending agency as security on a loan. It is typically close to, and no higher than, probate. Changing gemstone and metal prices may make this a tricky value to arrive at.


With relationships resulting in the intervention of the legal system, a value is often needed in divorce situations. This value assesses the worth of the couple’s assets for consideration by the Court. Read this article for more information. 

Selling to shop

Every shop's buying policy will be different and depend on their circumstances. Some won't offer on items if they don't think they can sell them - others will. Many factors affect a professional's view - for example size, condition, remedial work, market conditions, likelihood of selling, how their current stock compares. A shop buying second hand items outright will want to buy an item, normally, at less than they can buy a new one as a new one comes with all the maker's warranties, and often favourable credit terms. So shops may offer to buy within a wide range. 

An Insurance valuation is the highest value you can give an item - it will include VAT  and is a value designed to give you an amount of money to go and buy that same item again. At the other end of the spectrum Probate is normally the lowest

If you're selling to a shop you might sensibly expect them to offer between 10% to 30% of the insurance value of an item, any more than that and you're doing very well - either from them, auction or within your private network. You can read more here.

If you'd like to know more, or would like us to help you with an enquiry, do make contact.

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Article by Adam J

Adam J

Adam's been working at Jacobs since 2003, has a professional jewellers diploma and looks after the business as whole.

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